15 Mar 2017

Tech for Good – International Women’s Day

By Evelyn

Last week we celebrated International Women’s Day with a huge Tech for Good London meetup, hosted by Code Node with our partners CAST and in collaboration with GeekGirl Meetup UK. Over 200 people gathered for a bonanza of presentations and discussion from some amazing women who are using tech to empower others – oh, and we also celebrated our meetup hitting 5000+ members!

If you missed out on the event you can watch footage from the night here, and catch up on the community announcements here.

Scarlett Montanaro, one half of Crack + Cider, a platform where you can buy items for homeless people in London and San Francisco, told us about how her start up was inspired by a conversation with a homeless man in Berlin, who told her that people don’t give him money because they think he’ll spend it on ‘crack and cider’. Impressively, Crack + Cider raised £35,000 in the first six weeks of launching their website. However their approach and provocative branding also drew some negative press, but Scarlett and co-founder Charlotte Cramer took this as a lesson that if you’re doing something bold sometimes “the haters are going to hate”.

Crowd2Map’s, Janet Chapman, spoke of how rural mapping is helping to combat female genital mutilation (FGM) in Tanzania.  A volunteer project that rose out of the Tanzania Development Trust, it has seen over 600 online volunteers use open government data and plug it into OpenStreetMap, helping social workers access remote villages and rescue girls who are being forced to undergo female genital cutting.  This incredible work has created an impact and in rural Tanzania reduced the deaths of girls by FGM by two thirds.

Ade Adewunmi, who works for the Government’s Digital Service, made some very insightful comments – “Technology isn’t neutral, and there is no such thing as raw data,” she said. Ade talked about how the collection of data is important – there are assumptions that underpin data collection and these must be clearly articulated and challenged if needs be.  Diverse teams help develop more nuanced and better contextualised data. In turn, this will help create better infrastructure for the government to be an authoritative source on open source data.

Our last speaker, Immy Kaur from 00 spoke about her experience with open digital leadership and the lack of infrastructure to prevent racist and sexist online abuse. She said that due to the lack of protections on the internet, she’s seen some great people move away from working on open digital platforms to work in private –  which will inevitably damage their work.  “Worker’s rights simply don’t translate to where we are now in the digital age.  We don’t have to reinvent all this – but we have to understand this is not just plug and play,” she said.

After our keynote talks Caylee Farndon-Taylor from  GeekGirlMeetup hosted a panel discussion with a lineup of fab female technologists (pictured), including Anjali Ramachandran, Leonie van der Linde, Dina Ariss and Ronda Zelezny-GreenYou can watch the panel in Code Node’s footage from the event here.

Finally, it wouldn’t be a Tech for Good event without our usual round-up of community announcements from the floor. You can read about all the Tech for Good opportunities in this shared doc – and add your own. It’s a place to promote jobs, events, projects and opportunities relevant to our growing Tech for Good community.  

We can’t wait to see you all at the next Tech for Good meetup, so stay on the lookout for more details.