Innovation Challenge 2018: Meet the second round applicants, Part 2

Last week we introduced three of the competitors of Innovation Challenge (IC) 2018, and promised to present two more this week. So without further ado, here are Sawsan Nashashibi with Isha L’lsha (Haifa Feminist Center) and Cooperativa Tierra Común, represented by Jorge Eduardo Benet Sánchez Noriega.

Isha L’lsha was one of the participants who applied under the theme “Equality”. Established in 1983, their mission is to advance the rights and status of women and girls, promoting peace, security and socio-economic justice from a feminist perspective.

“We are engaged in human rights because we have a vision and we believe that we can make an impact on our society, which abuses human rights and diminishes space for social activism and change. We work towards building a society where all women enjoy equal rights in all fields, including economic, social and political.”

Isha L’Isha has a feminist archive and library in Israel, which depicts feminist activism in israel from 1970 to the present, with the hope of inspiring future generations by making historical progress visible. Their application concerns Isha L’Isha, which seeks to expand its activities and collections, particularly its LGBT and Arabic collections, and to digitise content and create an online exhibition in Hebrew, Arabic and English. They endeavour to increase diversity in a time when civil society in Israel is increasingly challenged.

“We strive to make sure that the history of feminist activism, of collaboration between Palestinian and Jewish women, our struggles and challenges, will be available for all generations so they can have the needed and necessary knowledge to fight against the erasure of civil society and its struggle for human rights. We believe that preserving and documenting feminist and social activism in the past will help us create a brighter future. We believe in tomorrow, and that we have the power to transform it.”

Our final participant that we are going to present is the Mexico-based Cooperativa Tierra Común, a worker-owned organisation specialising in trainings on digital security and technical support.

“We question and provide alternatives to proprietary products and services and help human rights defenders build their own capacities and take control of their own electronic tools and media.”

The idea that Tierra Comúns representative Jorge sent to the IC is of an online game used for trainings and in workshops to increase digital security. He describes the tool as dynamic, non-traditional and fun. It would be based on real stories and events, and show creative ways in which HRDs can manage security. Tierra Común wants to overcome the notion that digital security is difficult, and a topic only for specialists. They want to take the serious issues of anonymity, online harassment, doxing, surveillance etc. and make it more approachable, also aiming to inspire and motivate HRDs along the way. This is something they feel is necessary since HRDs is a group which is not only vulnerable to repressive regimes, but also vulnerable to big companies.

“We witness how companies that manage big media and big data are not the free and egalitarian organisations they allegedly promote themselves to be, mining and exposing private information of people that are vulnerable or at risk.”

The Innovation Challenge team was very excited when we received this years applications for IC 2018. Even though we only highlighted five participants here on our blog, there are many more who deserve a place in the spotlight. We have gotten applications from all corners of the world, from organisations working on everything from journalism to LGBT+ issues, and we can only hope that the turnout will be just as great next year.

While sharing their expertise and advancing the field in which they work, the contestants of the IC show how well human rights and innovation go together. Even though they work in hostile environments, like Sawsan and her team at Isha L’lsha, they still push forward and are thinking of new ways to develop and become even better, as expressed by Jorge and Cooperative Tierra Común.

Next the applicants who made it through to the third round will be invited to video chats with the IC team, which will ask some clarifying questions. A brief will then be prepared and sent to the IC jury who will go through all the material and come to a final decision. The winners will be presented on Friday 14 September. So stay tuned, and good luck to all remaining participants!

Author: Beatrice Liliegren
Editor: Mathias Antonsson