Making the digital space safer
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in association with the ICT Division, organised The Digital Khichuri Challenge for the seventh time since 2016, with the hope to make the digital space safer, and work towards a more tolerant Bangladesh. The Grand Finale was held this March. Team 'Cyber Saver' was the winner, and 'N te Nari, N te Nirapotta' was the runner up in the students/campaigns category. In the start-up category, 'TransEnd' was the winner and 'Cyber Teens' the runner up.
Team Cyber Saver attends to the harsh realities of cyber harassment, and their major focus lies upon proactively eradicating the crime before it can even have an effect through behaviour change and catching the perpetrators. Ahmed Adib Mujtaba, Meherun Nahar, Shahriar Hossain Babla and Zawad Alam were the team members. "We make sure that the awareness contents that we make are accessible to the general public and create a ripple effect, for example, through our Cyber Saver campaign, we gather a group of "Cyber Savers" who work to create awareness among netizens all over the country. Then, they train the next group of enthusiasts who want to become cyber savers and prevent cybercrimes.", shares Shahriar.
Nur-A-Shafee Ahnaf, Shahriar Pranto, Sheherin Jahan and Rakib Hossain led Team 'N te Nari, N te Nirapotta'. With the motto 'online-e offline-e nari thhakbe nirapode', meaning 'women would be safe, both online and offline', this team came up with a creative way of using comics to engage the youth and advocate for women's safety, whether she is using the internet or not. "Many do not consider cyber harassment to be a crime and that is the biggest challenge for us", shares Nur-A-Shafee. Pranto adds, "Majority of the women are not aware of their rights and the laws protecting them from such crime and through this initiative, we aimed to educate them but creatively." "We need to promise, we must take the oath to be responsible, empathetic, and respectful in digital platforms and social media irrespective of nationality, race, religion, and gender to build a tolerant and safe society," urged Rakib.
Lamea Tanjin Tanha, Amreeeta Chowdhury, Samia Tanjin Minha and Zohan Araz Khan were the minds behind Team TransEnd. Their idea was to support millions of transgender individuals in Bangladesh, inform them about their rights, create a safer digital space to protect them from cyber harassment, and at the same time increase their visibility in the cyber-space, by empowering them through e-commerce and social business platforms. "We are already connected with more than 8,000 transwomen and we believe that using this network, we will be able to establish a safer digital space for the gender diverse people.", shares Lamea. From providing them with mental health counselling, legal support, digital literacy workshops, contents and merchandises communicating gender diversity messages to even creating and an app named "Nirapotta", they created a holistic plan to stand by the transwomen of our nation.
Team Cyber Teens aims to stand up for teenagers, aiding them with overcoming fear and navigating difficult life situations, such as cyber bullying, through counselling services provided by professionals. Sadat Rahman, Md Alamgir Kabir, Dola Akter Reba and Kafi Al Faid Kanon made up the team. Alamgir shares when talking about their experience, "DKC, from beginning to the end was informative, interesting and instructive. We learned how to successfully implement our ideas and after two days of bootcamp, our deep-drive mentoring sessions began. It allowed us to improve our skills, make new friends and also, it gave us the opportunity to book mentoring meetings with our favorite mentors."
The Digital Khichuri Challenge is an initiative of the "Partnerships for a Tolerant, Inclusive Bangladesh" (PTIB) that seeks to bring together the youth in forming and creating narratives as well as platform ideas that promote peace, tolerance, and diversity to actively counter hateful and divisive narratives.
The author is a freelance journalist and a marketing student at North South University. Email: [email protected].