Held on the scenic banks of the Haw River in North Carolina in an mid-19th century cotton mill converted to a beautiful eco-ballroom, the SwitchPoint 2016 conference brought together experts in humanitarian innovation, global health, and technology. ICAAD co-founders Hansdeep and Jaspreet presented on Equity, Engagement, and Entrepreneurship, showcasing examples of how they are using multidisciplinary approaches to identify and implement solutions to address systemic discrimination, such as gender stereotypes and cultural norms and their impact on violence against women and girls.
Reflecting on access to justice for women and girls in Pacific Island countries and elsewhere in the world, they discussed systemic barriers faced at each step of the way, from communal pressures from religious leaders and family members, to the lack of documentation and evidence preservation by healthcare providers, to victim-blaming by police and judges. These barriers often have the downstream effect of a lack of trust in the police and the justice system as a whole.
Analysis of these barriers with local stakeholders inspired the conclusion that legal advocacy alone would not be the driver of change. These considerations led to the development of a model that has brought together numerous public and private partnerships, from women’s rights NGOs, data scientists, design strategists, universities, and information technologists to UN agencies, government health ministries, and law firms.
Throughout their discussion, the co-founders conveyed the idea that challenging deeply embedded inequality requires the collection of good empirical data; approaching stakeholders with humility; critical analysis; and finally, supporting the excellent work of activists already being done. In concluding their discussion, they emphasized the idea that ICAAD isn’t an international NGO that is acting as a champion of change, but rather as a facilitator that shares global resources and technical expertise to build the capacity of local efforts.
Additionally, we conducted a microlab with African activist and entrepreneur, Teddy Ruge, who forced those in the international development space to question their respective roles in both a humorous and serious way.
Stay tuned for the video of our presentation.