Chayn and their efforts for world peace

Hera Hussain is the founder of Chayn: an advocacy group that leverages technology to empower women against violence and oppression so they can live much better lives. One of the main themes of this group is to use the power of technology to help people most overlooked by society. Hussain says it is usually women, especially women of color that are affected. One of their projects included a hackathon to create solutions to end sexual violence in high conflict zones. Another was an online toolkit for domestic abuse survivors to build their own legal case.

A particular hackathon held more than a month ago called #PeaceHackBEY helped to resolve the issue of integrating women into the picture of solving societal challenges. In partnership with the global NGO International Alert, Chayn brought together a variety of technologists, activists, thinkers, and engaged citizens aiming to create solutions to some of the major social problems facing Lebanon today.  Before, there were two extremes in civil society: events that focus solely on women and the latter dominated by men. In events leading up to the Hackathon, anti-government protests swept the city over issues like public services and the lack of resources and support for the Syrian refugees that entered Lebanon to escape turmoil.

“Civic tech is a term that emerged because there was demand for citizens to create solutions when the response from government was slow and people wanted to make change on their own,” Hussain says. “This hackathon felt like it was the right thing because it was tackling issues that Lebanese society faces as a whole—access to services, resources, and information—but which tend to affect women most because they’re disenfranchised.”

Chayn is headquartered in London, but Hussain is originally from Pakistan and heads a team of volunteers from all over the world. Hussain hopes the organization acts as facilitators, active in working with stakeholders and finding sustainable solutions to build peace. “We believe in a ‘build with, not for’ approach—that’s all about working with people you’re building solutions for, rather than building it for them without including them as part of the design process,” she says.

Article via Good Magazine, September 22, 2015

Photo: Globe in Purple via Norm Hoekstra [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Teenage hackathon addresses cyberbullying

Fifteen teenagers from across the country convened in New York City to participate in DoSomething.org and Coca-Cola’s co-sponsored Happiness Hackathon, designed to invent creative solutions to cyberbullying. The one-day event took place on October 3rd.

According to DoSomething.org, just under 50 percent of young people have been cyberbullied. Equally alarming is the estimate that 90 percent of teens who witness online bullying do nothing to address it.

Out of several hundred teenagers who submitted proposals to reduce cyberbullying, the fifteen chosen were from diverse backgrounds and generally had personal experiences with bullying.

“We wanted 15 different perspectives, different ideas, different ways of tackling the problem,” said Aria Finger, DoSomething.org’s Chief Operations Officer.

The teens were broken up into groups of three, and each team was provided a mentor to help develop their ideas. Among the proposed solutions, one team thought of an app that let users compliment others; another group designed a program that required teenagers suspended from social media for cyberbullying to take an online anti-bullying seminar before reactivating their accounts.

Finger awarded the teams for different accomplishments, such as “Best Use of Tech” and “Most Unique Idea.”

“We’re absolutely committed to being in touch with the teens and advocating for them and their ideas,” Finger said. “We are committed to this long term.”

Article via Mashable, October 28, 2015

Photo: GameLab Exhibit via Ars Electronica [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


United Nations creates “Sustainable Development Goals”

The United Nations has created 17 Sustainable Development Goals, an action plan to solve the globe’s most important issues by 2030. Nonprofit founders, entrepreneurs, and social innovators are advocating around the world to execute the UN’s #globalgoals. One of these activists is Hera Hussain, a facilitator of workshops for MakeSense, a worldwide consortium of social entrepreneurs, and founder of the advocacy group Chayn. Hera Hussain is one of many activist and technologists considered to be “Local Globalists” as they seek solutions for the UN’s specified global problems.

Chayn’s mission is to use technology to empower women against violence and oppression. In the past, Chayn has organized hackathons to create solutions to end sexual violence in conflict zones and offered online toolkits to domestic abuse survivors so that they may be able to prepare their own legal cases. On September 25, the organization hosted a hackathon in Beirut called #PeaceHackBEY, in which technologists and activists invented solutions to social problems in Lebanon today. The hackathon occurred at a pivotal time, as anti-government protests have consumed Beirut in the past few weeks due to deficiencies in public services and resources to support the million-plus Syrian refugees currently in Lebanon.

“Tech and society are always further ahead than governments and governments are playing catch up, but we’re slowly starting to see this change,” Hussain says. “By using tech to fill gaps in access to information and justice, we can either complement efforts that governments and NGOs are already doing, or point out where they are failing.”

Article via GOOD, 22 September 2015

Photo: Brighton Digital Festival Hackathon Sponsored by iCrossing UK via iCrossing [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]

 


Moving toward world peace through hackathons

Hackathons have proven to be a great way to use tech for good. Often described as a great equalizer, technology can be leveraged to bring voice to people that society often ignores. Social activists are turning to hackathons to help spread their message and develop solutions, instead of waiting on the government to initiate change.

One such activist is Hera Hussain, founder of the advocacy group Chayn. Chayn is a volunteer-led, open source project that leverages technology to empower women against violence and oppression so they can live happier and healthier lives. They offer tools to help abused women build a domestic violence case without a lawyer, and advise about how a person can be tracked on and offline, among other things. This organization is all about individuals empowered to make change. One of their main ways to get the community involved is hackathons.

Hussain says that hackathons are events that bring together important parts of society that isolate themselves when it comes to women’s issues. “You either have events that just focus on women…” Hussain says, “or you have events that are completely dominated by men and are either forgetting that women exist or have separate issues. There’s very little middle ground that uses an integrated women lens as part of a broader focus of solving societal challenges.”

Bringing together these problem solvers is crucial to making real progress in the future. Hussain states that Chayn is about solving problems with, and not for, women in different communities. This organization is dedicated to allowing women to choose what they want to do with their lives while being treated equally during the process. Hussain says, “We always come back to independence and happiness as our two biggest goals..”

Article via Good Magazine, 22 September 2015

Photo: Hacking for Women’s Empowerment via Bread For The World [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Top 8 Hackathon Resources

Want to attend a hackathon that not only needs your talents, but fits your mindset?  Maybe you are actually thinking of hosting your own event, but don’t know when to begin?

If this describes you, check out our Hackathon Resources page.

There you’ll find resources to help manage everything from organizing and planning your hackathon (like Hacker League), to finding Silicon Valley investors(such as Angel Hack) that want to connect with hackers. Resources like Hackathon.io   and HackWeekends help you find  hackathons to attend as well as connecting you to a user community.

Photo: Olathe Human Resources via City of Olathe [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]