Innovation Challenge 2017: Announcing the Winners

The Innovation Challenge 2017 has come to a close. After a tough jury deliberation, we are excited to announce the winners.

The past three months have been a journey for Civil Rights DefendersHuman Rights Innovation Initiative. The initiative was created to innovatively solve challenges that human rights defenders face in their daily work. That is why in September, we launched Innovation Challenge 2017, with the aim to find new creative ways to increase the security and impact of human rights defenders (HRDs). The competition, enabled anyone to submit an idea either related to HRD Security or Creative Reporting.

The overall turnout of applications for this year’s challenge was great, both in terms of quantity and quality. Five applicants made it through to the final round. These stood out from the rest, with innovative, impactful and defender-centric ideas, that they wanted to prototype. Although only two of them won the Challenge, we would like to extend gratitude to all finalists, and everyone else that applied. We thank you all for participating and encourage you to bring your ideas into fruition.

Two Winners

It is with great pleasure that we today, on Human Rights Day, announce the winners of the Innovation Challenge 2017. The jury, consisting of Jac sm Kee, Jamila Raqib and Robert Hårdh assessed the five finalists’ applications and subsequently decided to endorse two, joint, winners.

Overall, the Jury found each and all of the excellent applications very interesting. They all agreed that the five finalists presented very important and needed ideas aimed at tackling real needs on the ground.

Peer Care: mental health care by HRDs for HRDs

Peer Care, a collective of women HRDs propose a simple, flexible, low-cost and sustainable model for mental health care and prevention, which will be developed, adapted, owned and implemented by grass-roots HRDs for HRDs in their own communities. While “self-care” is often presented as key to HRDs mental health, their idea is based on “peer-care”, in which grassroots HRDs take responsibility for each other’s well-being while working to protect human rights in some of the most repressive regions in the world.

We are so proud of our team for winning the Innovation Challenge! It is a wonderful result of our joint work over many years. We work in very difficult conditions, where defenders face risks every day, and we all needed to find ways to help each other. Your competition was a great chance for us to share our field experience and expertise on how to prevent mental illness and strengthen our mental health, all while networking, improving the effectiveness of our work, sharing personal stories. We will design Peer Care, our new methodology with practical tools on well-being, safety and security of defenders, to be applicable in any context around the world, and we hope that it will make all of our colleagues around the world more resilient,” said the Peer Care team.

Impactful and with HRDs at the core, the Jury did not hesitate in choosing Peer Care as one of the winners:

Peer Care is an incredibly important initiative that addresses an often invisible cost to activists and HRDs in their work. It will contribute to the growing field of movement building, security of HRDs and mental health in a meaningful way by addressing a difficult and specific gap in this area. The project is directed, developed and seems to have already been explored to an extent by a network of activists, who themselves, demonstrate clear understanding of the need and issue, and a real commitment to see its value and usefulness to others in the field. I am personally looking forward to see how this can build and grow our understanding and responses to this area as well!,” said Jac sm Kee.
“Peer Care incorporates innovative thinking with in-depth experience and insight to more effectively tackle a fundamental challenge — how to increase resiliency among HRDs by addressing their mental health and wellness needs. It is clear that the project’s organisers understand that innovation is closely tied to effectiveness, which means that it should be grounded in the real world, and meet the real needs of real people,” said Jamila Raqib.
With a true defender-centric approach, Peer Care has created a solution by human rights defenders, and for human rights defenders. The issue of human rights defenders’ emotional, psychological and social well-being is an area of vital importance, but unfortunately often forgotten or neglected,” said Robert Hårdh.

The non-disclosed winner put forward an innovative way of increasing police accountability through the use of crowdsourcing and data visualisation. This will not only create citizen oversight, but also improve the law enforcement officers incentives for good behaviour.

It may seem strange that the identity of the second winner is not disclosed. However, in many parts of the world, HRDs are forced to remain secretive about their own identity in order to avoid state repression. The courage of these people who put their life at risk to protect human rights is admiring and it should not go unnoticed.

It was a challenge for us to present our idea for an international competition. The participation in Innovation Challenge 2017 helped our team to develop the vision on how we are going to build our project in the nearest future, it inspired internal discussions. It’s a great honour that the jury chose to support our idea. Thank you!,” said the non-disclosed winner.

The Jury had much to say about why they endorsed the non-disclosed winner:

I am excited by the winning applicant’s initiative and find it to be a clever and grounded application of crowdsourcing as an approach and technology innovation to improve accountability through direct engagement. With care and attention to how it rolls out, this project can potentially support greater critical awareness on civic rights and state duties, and hopefully also foster better relationships between the police and the people it is serving,” said Jac sm Kee.
“Hopefully this project will provoke people’s thinking about the intersection of human rights and technology, and the way in which people can be empowered through access to data. I see this project as holding significant learning potential for other communities,” said Jamila Raqib.
The non-disclosed winners project is both defender-centric and innovative. By monitoring law enforcement through crowdsourced citizen reports, this idea not only stands a chance to improve accountability, but also creates incentives for the police to reflect on their own behaviour and actions,” said Robert Hårdh.

The winners of Innovation Challenge 2017 will share the prize of 300.000 SEK. The funding will fuel the entire innovation cycle, from idea stage, through iterations, to solution, and adoption. The Human Rights Innovation Initiative is looking forward to working with the winners to make their innovative ideas a reality.

Author: Antonela Tedesco

Editor: Mathias Antonsson