These are the Innovation Challenge 2017 Finalists

Civil Rights Defenders’ Innovation Challenge 2017 has closed its second round and is about to ender its third and final phase. Out of the original 28 applicants, eight successful innovative finalists remain in the running to win this year’s challenge.

“The more ideas the better”

The Innovation Challenge, which was launched within the framework of our Human Rights Innovation Initiative, is designed to each year focus on different themes within the field of civil and political rights. In the 2017 edition, we asked the applicants to share innovative ideas that will either enable creative reporting or improve security of human rights defenders and organisations.

“Our goal is simple, yet challenging: to present ideas that could become important tools for protecting human rights defenders at risk and making their work more effective. The more ideas that are developed, the better,” said Civil Rights Defenders’ Executive Director Robert Hårdh ahead of the launch.

Read about the first round facts in our here.

Meet the finalists

The ideas that have been submitted to this year’s challenge have covered a wide spectra of issues, themes and regions. Civil Rights Defenders recently had the opportunity to speak to some of the successful applicants. Three of the finalists have requested to remain anonymous due to security concerns and will therefore not be highlighted in this article.

Marijana Maric is the Executive Director of the Serbian organisation Initiative for Inclusion VelikiMali. Applying within the theme of creative reporting, she has submitted an idea to use animated videos for advocacy.

When reaching out with our message in a more creative way, more people will listen. We know that for-profit companies already use similar methods, so why should not non-profits who work for the protection of human rights do the same? We have such strong messages and they need to be heard, said Marijana.

Read the longer interview with Marijana Maric here.

Charlie Harding, the Director of Product at the Kenyan non-profit tech company Ushahidi, has submitted his application within the theme of human rights defenders security. The idea started to take shape a couple of years ago after Nairobi, where several Ushahidi staff are located, became the target of a terrorist attack.

It was a real coordination nightmare to make sure that everyone was safe and we realised that this problem needed to be solved so that it does not happen again, to us or other organisations. We then came up with the idea to build a team emergency check-in app location that would reach you on whatever channel you prefer to speak on and then coordinate all responses onto one central location, Charlie explained.

Read the longer interview with Charlie Harding here.

Describing herself as an entrepreneur and a “tech-nerd”, Jenny Pettersson strives to engage in projects that can make a difference in society. Under the theme of creative reporting Jenny’s idea is to create a network application for LGBT-girls, activists, and organisations.

Over the years, I have spent a lot of time working in projects that have not engaged me to the full extent. I felt like I wanted to move forward in a different direction and do something else, something real. I guess that one could say that I want to make a difference. The app, which is called LesBeSocial, will be almost like a Facebook for LGBT-girls, said Jenny.

Read the longer interview with Jenny Pettersson here.

Mathias Friman is, according to himself, a proper “IT-nerd” and a strong believer in the freedom of expression. Intent on improving human rights defenders security and freedom of expression, Mathias is looking to come up with a user-friendly way for journalists, human rights defenders and others to communicate anonymously online.

I believe that the foundation of a democracy is to create an honest conversation about the challenges that our society is facing. Thus, there needs to be a possibility for people to write completely anonymously and report on issues without having to worry about the risks. If everyone has the chance to be anonymous, everyone has a chance to contribute to the debate, said Mathias.

Read the longer interview with Mathias Friman here.

Mohammad Issa works at the Palestinian NGO Yes Theatre for Communication among Youth. Within the theme of creative reporting, Mohammad has submitted an idea aimed at training human rights defenders to produce animation videos to inform about their situation.

We are intent on creating a communication process that facilitates a good understanding. We need to make things easier and we believe that animation is a tool that could help human rights defenders communicate their situation both locally and globally, said Mohammad.

Read the longer interview with Mohammad Issa here.

These are the ideas

IDEA 1: I2Pi Project

Their idea entails creating a user-friendly network of encrypted communication, so ordinary citizens and human rights defenders can safely communicate and publish information without risking their own lives. The project seeks to encourage civic debate and empower people so they can disseminate ideas and information without fear of reprisal. If you want to know more about this applicant read here.

Submitted by: I2Pi Project

IDEA 2: human rights defenders mental health care

This project has the goal of tackling one of the most problematic issues human rights defenders experience as a result of their work: mental health. Their idea is to create instructional modules, on key mental health needs, that can be applied autonomously by any human rights defenders in any part of the world. The tool will be developed, adapted, owned, and implemented by and for grassroots human rights defenders.

Submitted by: Confidential due to security concerns

IDEA 3: LesBeEqual

Their idea is to create a safe digital space where LGBTI organisations, activists, influencers, and sponsors can come together, interact, collaborate, and advocate for LGBT rights. Basically, they intend to build a portal with different kind of functionalities to streamline and scale the efforts of LGBTI advocates. If you want to know more about this applicant read here.

Submitted by: Lesbesocial

IDEA 4: Police Monitoring

They want to create a crowdsourcing platform for monitoring human rights violations in police stations. In other words, a sort of police “TripAdvisor”. Users, i.e. citizens, review their experience at a station, enabling citizen oversight, holding the police accountable, incentivising police to improve the service to the community.

Submitted by: Confidential due to security concerns

IDEA 5: Let’s Animate Human Rights

They aim at creating animated videos for advocacy campaigns and project reporting, whereby information on the violation of children’s rights from vulnerable groups can be packaged into compelling animation videos, informing and influencing a new and wider target audience. If you want to know more about this applicant read here.

Submitted by: Initiative for Inclusion VelikiMali

As you can see, the Innovation Challenge 2017 has been able to gather a wide range of ideas, generated in different places, and by a heterogenous group of actors — human rights defenders themselves, a hacking collective, children’s rights advocates, and even psychologists.

This year’s Challenge is coming to an end. In the following weeks we will introduce the jury and the final announcement will be done on 10th of December.