Live broadcast today at 14.30 CET!

by Paula Holst on March 19, 2015

Tune in on our LIVE page today March 19th at 14.30 CET for a live broadcast where the creators of this blog present their work and answer questions from the audience.


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Recurring violence against girls and women is an unfortunate reality in many regions. Cases like the horrendous bus gang rape attack in India in late 2012 are only a tip of the iceberg, while most cases never get any publicity, not to mention justice. Modern information phenomena like big data and improved telecommunications help harness the power of data and social in putting an end to abuse and educating the victims of their rights.

Here are a few examples of some clever implementations.

1. Harassmap

Founded by a collective of women grown tired of men harassing them on the streets of Egyptian cities. They decided to do something about it and so the idea of Harassmap was born. The application enables instant reporting of events ranging from seemingly harmless behaviour like ogling and catcalls to serious sexual abuse and mob attacks. The incidents are then shown across a map, making it easy to evaluate a particular district’s safety level. Adjacent social media pages let users discuss about the cases as well as the problem at large. This service comes at a topical period considering the country’s recent turmoil and numerous cases of harassment coinciding with the political unrest.

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 11.24.46 PMHarassMap was born as a response to the persistent problem of sexual harassment on the streets of Egypt, to which society has become increasingly tolerant. It is the first independent initiative to work on the issue. (



2. U-report

The Unicef developed U-report community information service piloted in Uganda in 2012. The SMS based service enables the people involved to communicate and report their views and observations from the field relating to various development issues in hopes to increase transparency and accountability. Topics specifically addressing women include early marriage, reproductive health and female genital mutilation, to name a few.

Volunteering U-reporters can sign-up and access the service with their mobiles. Unicef selects the questions and sends them out to the volunteers to answer. Now this is interesting. The idea of a multinational NGO selecting questions that they feel are relevant to the local conditions just oozes top-down mentality. They need to be really careful in asking the right kind of questions. As noble and seemingly simple the idea is, I cannot help but wonder how the receiving end is prepared to handle the data. Are they really responsive to the wide-ranging feedback and comments that they might be receiving? Can they address all concerns in a constructive and sustainable manner?

Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 9.41.20 AMU-Report is a free SMS-based system that allows young Ugandans to speak out  about what’s happening in communities across the country. It also enables them  work with other community leaders for positive change. (


3. Data2X

Data2X is an initiative sparked by Hillary R. Clinton to advocate data collection for informing and guiding policy making directly and indirectly affecting women. According to the initiative “Good data are essential for smart policy, and the lack of reliable data has hindered progress on gender equality and women’s empowerment.” Indeed, inequality is also reflected in data collection. Our understanding of the lives of women and girls and the constraints they face are limited because gender data are limited, especially in developing countries.

To begin Data2X has identified what are the key gaps in gender data across five key domains: health, education, economic opportunities, political participations and human security. By filling these gaps, there is a possibility for significant improvements in social and economic problems and opportunities as well as the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of alternative policies. Examples being finding answers to explain gender wage gaps or what is the return on investment by a female (micro)entrepreneur.

Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 9.48.50 AM Data2X, named for the power women have to multiply progress in their societies, advances gender equality and women’s empowerment. How? By building partnerships to improve data collection and demonstrating how better data on the status of women and girls can guide policy, leverage investments, and inform global development agendas.(

The last one is deserving of a blog post in its own right. In the meanwhile you may read more about the role of big data in gender equality here.

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Working the virtual field

March 17, 2015

Since I have written my last blog post in which I referred to Ruth Behar and Elijah Anderson I kept on thinking about following questions: What does it mean and what would it take to conduct fieldwork in online spaces? Is it possible at all – can we consider the virtual world to be a […]

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A suggestion why international women’s day does not seem to work (…as it is supposed to)

March 17, 2015

It really is a funny thing about the word ‘feminism’. There are lots of stories where at first people judge the strong female voice and label it with not particularly flattering adjectives and then they learn that the first meaning of feminism is not something extreme, but simply the belief that men and women are equal […]

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Social media helps Middle Eastern girls learn about love and sex

March 14, 2015

Social media such as blogging has brought together various women’s communities, that are bound together via common lifestyles and interests, as pointed out by Morrow et al (2014) in their observations of social research in online spaces. The Internet removes the dependency of space, which means a greater exposure to information. As Morrow et al. […]

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Research in online spaces -Do we have to go back to methodology classes?

March 11, 2015

There are many reasons to cast a glance through “the feminist lens” at social media platforms. For feminist researchers for instance – of course not only for feminist ones – the content generated by users through social media is highly interesting as it means that masses of data, on any subject one might imagine, are […]

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Patricia Arquette’s feminist credo and its aftermath

March 8, 2015

One of the main conclusions one can draw from Patricia Arquette’s Oscar speech is that if someone tries to make a stand about a sensitive topic on stage (especially at the Oscar stage!), he/she should brace themselves for a media hurricane which inevitably follows the act. After accepting her prize Patricia Arquette made a rather […]

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