Innovators against Gender Based Violence Award

LightCastle Analytics Wing
September 12, 2019
Innovators against Gender Based Violence Award

“Violence against women and girls has still perpetuated to this day because of underlying imbalances in power dynamics between men and women,” described a young women innovator while pitching her business model addressing these very issues. “This requires further equalization and empowerment.” Thus, on September 5, 2019, UN Women in Bangladesh, in association with LightCastle Partners, had organized the final round of the competition “Innovators against Gender Based Violence” to provide a platform to young women innovators.

11 participating teams — handpicked from all over the country— were invited to pitch their solutions to combat gender inequality and to boost women’s empowerment. Through their pitches, they aimed to address the various underlying causes of violence against women and girls, improve their access to educational and economic opportunities and promote their equal status in society.

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UN Women had launched a new project Combating Gender-based Violence Against Women (CGBV), with the aim to prevent and eliminate violence against women, with new approaches. As women best understand women’s problems and may not have had tantamount economic and social opportunities as their male counterparts to exercise their innovations, this competition had been initiated to bring out their voices through innovations. The competition was launched in March 2019 and was open to only women between 18 and 35 years old.  The process from shortlisting to the final Pitch Day included a boot camp and pre-incubation workshop to polish their ideas and enhance their technical knowledge. The teams were further groomed and readied before they could go on stage to present their ideas and compete for the chance to win further incubation support.

With 11 teams of 24 astute young women, the Pitch Day of the ‘UN Women against Gender Based Violence’ was held at Lakeshore Hotel Gulshan, Dhaka on September 5, 2019. Each team was assigned 5 minutes to present their innovations to a three-member jury after which the floor was open for a question and answer session.  The Jury panel consisted of Ms. Shoko Ishikawa, Country Representative of UN Women Bangladesh, Ms. Zareen Mahmud Hosein, Founder of HerStory Foundation and Mr. M Asif Rahman, Founder and CEO of A.R. Communications.

The evening began with each of the 11 teams pitching their ideas to the judges. The presentations addressed various perspectives, objectives and propositions to decrease, prevent and fully diminish gender-based violence. “75% of working women in Bangladesh face some kind of harassment everyday”, described Team Sanctum in their proposition with this statistic addressing the need to act on the dire situation of working women in Bangladesh immediately.

The young women innovators brought various kinds of innovation to successfully demonstrate their ideas. While many ideas were heavily based on technology—such as apps— some addressed the need to create awareness using innovative methods as stage drama or cartoon sketches. Team Flame Up The Souls proposed to use popular theatre shows to design stage drama based on GBV and create awareness about the issue and its prevention.

As the evening unwrapped, Guest Speaker, Zaiba Tahyya, Founder of Female Empowerment Movement (FEM) went on stage and encouraged the participants with anecdotes of her own journey. Ms. Zaiba is a key women innovator who has made an impact in Bangladesh with her own endeavors and contributed to fight against Gender Based Violence. Sharing her own struggles as she set out to initiate “Project Attorokkha”— a self-defense class dedicated for the slum dwelling women of Dhaka— she stated, “People said I could not change the mentality of people and I took that as my core challenge”. As she shared some of her success stories from the projects with participants growing confident over time, she pointed out that women do not share incidents as much as they should. Zaiba stressed, “Although we can support the women internally, they still do not have the courage to come out, because they do not have the external support, they do not know their legal rights.”

Ms. Shoko Ishikawa, Country Representative of UN Women Bangladesh also stressed the significance of preventing Gender Based Violence, “If we cannot stop the violence before it starts, we cannot really break the cycle.” Ms. Shoko further stated, “Tonight’s presentations brought up many preventable ideas which are going to be valuable for the women surviving GBV.” As one of the teams presented the idea of raising awareness through traditional theatres, she pointed that in this era of technologically innovative ideas, these traditional approaches were praiseworthy.

The evening came to an end with the announcement of 3 winners from 11 teams. One of the winning teams, “Revive” proposed to empower deprived women through introducing a low-priced biodegradable cotton sanitary napkin named Charu for the underprivileged. Addressing their plan to disseminate awareness about GBV through product marketing, they stated “While we are preventing GBV why not point out the core reason for discrimination and raise awareness through it?” Three young women who represented the group “Freya”, another winning team vouched to create awareness through online and offline workshops targeting tertiary education enrolled students. Team “BIR” of two young women sought to create awareness among women and men about gender rights through animations specifically tailored for the purpose.

Mr. Bijon Islam, CEO of LightCastle Partners, gave the closing remarks for the evening thanking all the participants and judges of the innovative journey. He stated, ‘While I congratulate the winning teams, I would like to encourage other teams to remain steadfast and continue fighting against gender inequality with their unique endeavors.’

LightCastle Partners (LCP) has partnered with UN Women to provide technical support including implementation of the competition, incubation support to the winning team and launching of the winning ideas- scheduled to be held at the end of November.

The winning teams will receive incubation support from LightCastle Partner in the upcoming month and a seed fund of 5000 USD. At the end of the incubation period, the refined ideas will be launched to work in the areas of Bangladesh where discrimination is higher and unprotested for.

WRITTEN BY: LightCastle Analytics Wing

At LightCastle, we take a systemic and data-driven approach to create opportunities for growth and impact. We are an international management consulting firm which creates systemic and data-driven opportunities for growth and impact in emerging markets. By collaborating with development partners and leveraging the power of the private sector, we strive to boost economies, inspire businesses, and change lives at scale.

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