How technology can be used to combat sexual harassment

Date: Saturday, November 17, 2018

In the framework of the annual developers’ festival DevFest, the Google Developers Group Georgia and UN Women organized a Design Sprint.

The Design Sprint participants worked in groups of four to design their technology solutions to sexual harassment
The Design Sprint participants worked in groups four to design their technology solutions to sexual harassment; Photo: Dimitri Goderdzishvili

The interactive workshop brought together some 20 gender equality experts, web developers, IT specialists and product designers to brainstorm and develop innovative solutions for preventing and combating sexual harassment in the workplace and other public spaces.

Ketevan Shubashvili from the Public Defender’s Office and gender expert Baia Pataraia introduced the concept, forms and consequences of sexual harassment. Four mixed teams explored technological solutions to address sexual harassment, under the guidance of certified Google Sprint Master Emilia Maj.

“I learned a lot of new things about sexual harassment today,” noted Sopiko Sharabidze, a designer. “It is important to share this information with as many people as possible. Our team is going to develop a mobile app to help victims of sexual harassment get necessary support fast, and with less discomfort.”

At the end of the Sprint, the groups presented how the proposed technology would help to prevent and combat sexual harassment
At the end of the Sprint, the groups presented how to proposed technology would help to prevent and combat sexual harassment; Photo: Dimitri Goderdzishvili

A Design Sprint is a “greatest hit” of business strategy, innovation and behaviour aimed at accelerating product development through its design, prototyping and testing with potential clients. In the one-day workshop, the participants of the Design Sprint developed concepts of mobile applications, a website, a chatbot and other tools to tackle sexual harassment in public transport, cyberspace, educational institutions and the workplace.

Technology specialist Giorgi Kakhiani remarked, “New technologies provide interesting and simple solutions to many problems. It is exciting to use technology for a problem that has to do with people’s everyday lives. This is what we are trying to do today: each of us feels that we are creating something useful and valuable.”

According to the 2017 National Survey on Violence against Women, every fifth woman in Georgia has encountered sexual harassment in her lifetime. Around 70 per cent of sexual harassment cases took place in public spaces, including public transport, parks, schools and restaurants.

The Design Sprint took place within the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign in Georgia, highlighting the problem of sexual harassment worldwide. The event was supported through the project “A Joint Action for Women’s Economic Empowerment in Georgia”, implemented by UN Women with the financial support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway.