Supported by the ICT Division, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) virtually organised the final round of the seventh edition of the Digital Khichuri Challenge (DKC) 2021 on 28 March, where five groups of youth presented the ideas in the hackathon.
Titled "The Unsafety Net: How Online Abuse is Driving Women Out of Digital Spaces," the hackathon aimed to find ways to counter and protect women from online harassment.
Team 'Cyber Saver' was the winner, and 'N te Nari, N te Nirapotta' was the runner up in the students/campaigns category. In the start-up category, 'TransEnd' was the winner and 'Cyber Teens' the runner up.
Bangladesh has made remarkable progress in ensuring a more gender-equitable society, but cyberspace is still not women and girls friendly, as with nearly 60 per cent of female experiencing harassment online, speakers said at the event.
"While Bangladesh has been successful in the countering of violent extremism over the past years, radicalisation among the Bangladeshi youth remains a concern," pointed out Mia Seppo, the UN Resident Coordinator, in her address as the guest of honour.
The UN RC continued, "There is evidence that social media plays a vital role in the radicalisation of the youth. Online consumption of violent extremist content soared in 2020, with the number of Violence Extremist channels subscriptions in Bangladesh rising to 4.4 million from only 1.6 million."
"Within these posts, attacking women's rights are prominent… The extremist groups are waging a political battle against policies intended to empower women, including long-standing prohibitions in secular Bangladesh against polygamy, child marriage, and slavery," she added.
"It is great to see the youth of this country coming up with such innovations to make the cyber world safe for women. It is a constant battle to counter propaganda against women in the social media, a battle impossible to win without the power of youth," Mia further added.
Two start-ups, "Cyber Teens" and "TransEnd", and three campaigns, "Cyber Justice for Eve", "Cyber Saver" and "N te Nari, N te Nirapotta"; made it to the final round of the hackathon.
The solutions ranged from initiatives to prevent cyberbullying of women, teenagers and transwomen, to providing support after harassment has taken place, to creating an army of online activists to counter bullying, and to ensuring the safety of women both in the virtual and real world.
The winners will participate in a six-month-long expanded mentorship programme which will help shape their initiatives further.