What does your ideal digital world for women look like? | The Daily Star
08:37 PM, November 21, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:22 PM, November 21, 2020

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What does your ideal digital world for women look like?

Digital Utopia, by WeMen View and Plan International Bangladesh

Perhaps it looks like the cyberspace where women are not harassed based on what they are wearing, where they are not asked about the whereabouts of their scarf when they are photographed serving food to the needy or running a protest march. Maybe for some, the ideal online world is where women are not given rape threats in the comment section during a heated debate, or where their spam folder is not flooded with random men sending unsolicited pictures of their genitals. Perhaps, it is a cyber world where women are not stalked, harassed, or threatened by predators; where issues like cyberstalking, revenge porn, cyberbullying, and trolling do not exist. 

That is, to its simplest notion, an ideal digital world -- a Digital Utopia for Girls.

For Bangladesh, ensuring digital security for everyone is a conundrum she still needs to solve. According to a study done by Comparitech, the country ranks 7th among 60 countries for the worst cybersecurity. While digital security is a concern that challenges genders and work sectors of all kinds, the violation of digital security that concerns women is far less addressed and mitigated. Of course, concerns like cyber radicalisation, threat, and malice against the administration on social media, and the spread of disinformation should be dealt with, but concerns that threaten societies on a root level and destabilise half the population should be given equal priority, if not more.

With that thought, WeMen View, a women-led registered non-profit voluntary social welfare organisation, launched its latest event, "Digital Utopia: An Ideal Online World for Girls" co-hosted by Plan International Bangladesh. Digital Utopia is a mobile short-film competition (free and open for all) with a theme of bringing different visions of a female-centric ideal, safe, and secured online world. WeMen View is taking their win in the "Equality Award 2020" by Plan International Bangladesh for this year's International Day of the Girls, and creating an interactive platform to focus on, discuss and showcase short-films on women's freedom, safety, and security in the digital realm.

Before talking more about the competition, let's find out more about WeMen View. Launched in 2018, WeMen View became an initiative that planned on fighting against gender violence and discrimination by promoting the ideals of gender equality, personal space, consent, and good touch-bad touch through workshops targeted for children under 16 while also creating online and offline contents and campaigns with the same messages for adults. WeMen View plans on eradicating gender violence and inequality from the root of the society, ensuring that children from an early age are taught to be more tolerant towards women and minorities so that they can develop the much-needed basic understanding of consent and personal space. Children are encouraged to practice and preach gender equality and demote toxic masculinity, predatory behavior, and socially constructed gender roles. To achieve this, the organisation is also reaching out to the teachers and the parents of the children to ensure the children from their workshops have a safe space at their own home and in the classroom where they feel mentally and physically safe enough to share their encounter with gender violence.

WeMen View has reached more than 1000 students as well as their teachers from more than eight government schools all over the greater Dhaka Division and collaborated with more than ten organisations, including Teach for Bangladesh fellows, Swayong, Alokito Shishu, Footsteps Foundation, Volunteer Opportunities Bangladesh, and Gift for Good, working particularly with VSO Bangladesh and Manusher Jonno Foundation. WeMen View has also worked with relief work throughout the pandemic, with Cyclone Amphan Response, rehabilitation, and relief work, etc. In 2019, WeMen View was awarded the "Best Volunteer Group Award" by United Nations Volunteers Bangladesh, Action Aid Bangladesh, and VSO Bangladesh, for their contribution countering Gender-based violence and recently, has been recognised as a Youth Organisation working for Gender Equality on Women's Day 2020 by Ain o Salish Kendra.

So this year, taking a cue from Plan International Bangladesh's theme of "Online Freedom - Digital Safety and Security for Girls" for this year's Equality Awards, WeMen View is arranging to co-host Digital Utopia. WeMen View is offering substantial prize money as well as recognition to the winners of this film-making competition, which will be judged by a panelist of all-female judges related to the film-making world. 

The event was launched on October 29, 2020 with digital campaigns against cyberbullying and harassment, and highlighting women's contributions to the filmmaking world. It's being launched with the objectives  of bringing a female-centric vision of an ideal online world, raising awareness about digital security for girls and young women, inspiring and encouraging amateur film-makers to make more creative contributions, and hopefully, empowering inspiring women and female filmmakers through showcasing the expertise and opinions of the judges. 

The details for participating in the contest is available in WeMen View's Facebook page and Instagram profile. You can also send your queries to digitalutopia2020@gmail.com

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