As part of ongoing celebrations of Women’s History Month, USAID’s Promote Women in the Economy (WIE) program recognized three women who developed the best concepts for a mobile device application to help women confront street harassment in Afghanistan.
The applications, developed as part of USAID WIE’s first Code Challenge competition, will allow women to report harassment in real time as it occurs and identify problem areas, or to send a message to friends, family members, or other nearby users to ask for assistance.
USAID’s WIE teamed with Code Weekend, the first and biggest software and application developer community in Afghanistan, to organize the Code Challenge, and nine teams of software developers from across Afghanistan submitted their designs and concepts for anti-street harassment smartphone applications.
Code Weekend founder Jamshid Hashimi said an application women can download on a smart phone will help them confront this common form of social injustice in Afghan society.
“This gives Afghan women the chance to be innovative and creative in solving problems that affect not just them, but everyone in the society,” he said.
The winners of the Code Challenge are Fatima Shefaie and Alina Niko for their “Harassment Reporting for Mobile,” and Freshta Habibzay for her application “Safe Society.” These three coders will join to form a single team and will receive funding (the equivalent of about $4,400) to develop a single fully functional application.
USAID Mission Director Herbert Smith congratulated the three women and said the U.S. government has a deep commitment to eliminate violence against women, and street harassment is a very common form of abuse.
“We hope this technology will provide Afghan women with a valuable tool to overcome the harassment they face in their daily lives, and contribute to a decrease in violence toward women in this society,” Smith said.
USAID’s Promote WIE program funded the competition as part of its larger goal to improve women and girls’ access and participation in economy, civil society, and education. USAID’s Musharikat and Assistance in Building Afghanistan by Developing Enterprises (ABADE) projects also supported the young developers to learn high value skills like coding, which can help them find employment.