UCA Students Develop App to Combat Domestic Violence
“Victims of abuse often lack awareness of their legal rights, have poor access to services, as well as minimal support from their family and community,” said Zarastin. “Our ‘We Also Have a Voice’ Project is aimed at connecting women, particularly in rural areas, to share experiences, and gain support.”
Zarastin Kholbash, Aida Yessimova, and Manuchekhr Makhsutshoev, are studying Communications and Media and Computer Science at the University of Central Asia (UCA), and came up with an idea to develop a digital platform connecting women, and providing resources for people who are subjected to abuse or domestic violence. As part of the Digital Transformation in Central Asia (DTCA) conference hackathon event in October 2019, these undergraduate students had developed an innovative tech project with a social impact.
Zarastin, Aida and Manuchekhr plan to launch an app for women to share stories about issues they are facing, receive counselling services, as well as gain access to a 24-hour crisis hotline for individual consultation. The project team is also considering creating a button within the app to alert the authorities in case of an emergency.
Aida Yessimova, UCA undergraduate student, presented the ‘We Also Have a Voice’ Project at the Digital Transformation in Central Asia conference at the Naryn campus in October 2019.
Following the DTCA conference, John DiMarco, IT Director at the University of Toronto (Canada), and conference keynote speaker, expressed interest in future collaboration on this project. Alongside other UofT representatives, DiMarco plans to provide advice and support to UCA students towards their project’s implementation.
The ‘We Also Have a Voice’ project team is currently in the process of conducting research on what type of users will be using the app. “In order to successfully launch the project, we need to have a strong knowledge base, the innovation must make sense, and fit the context to which it is applied,” added Zarastin. In the future, Zarastin, Aida and Manuchekhr plan to engage local NGOs and Kyrgyz activists in their project to share stories about women suffering abuse, and create a wider network of support.
Zarastin shared how the team hopes to pilot this project in Naryn (Kyrgyzstan) in 2021, and later implement it in other Central Asian countries. “The issue of domestic violence in Central Asia has been looked at from the same angle for many years. Our app will help tackle domestic violence, and we hope to make a big difference for those in need. Technology is everywhere, and is helping to solve a lot of issues around the world, so why not in Central Asia?”
The Digital Transformation in Central Asia conference in 2019 was organised by the University of Central Asia (UCA), in partnership with the State Committee for Information Technology and Communications, and the High Technology Park of the Kyrgyz Republic. Among other topics, it explored how emerging economies of Central Asia can benefit from technology.