In this digital age, everyday life for anyone without the internet is something beyond imagination. Dependency on the internet in Bangladesh has increased today in a significant way during this difficult time of coronavirus when social distancing matters.
There is no denying that the internet opened up a new realm of opportunities to people who could not even dream about it before.
However, the virtual world we dwell in is not always safe for the women and children as they face cyberbullying and harassment almost on a daily basis.
Dedicated to ensuring safer cyberspace for the female population of the country, Democracy Watch’s “Safe Web Save Women” initiative is working in full capacity as a youthful social volunteering project since December 2019.
Supported by Democracy Watch (DW), the social renovating platform had come out as a result of the British Council powered Active Citizens Youth Leadership Youth Training (ACYLT) program hosted by DW.
Reconciling with the goal of SDG-5, "Safe Web Save Women" is a social awareness developing and voice raising volunteering project to stop women-harassment and bullying in social media and online platforms in Bangladesh.
“At the initial stage, team Safe Web Save Women participated in a project showcasing competition arranged by DW in collaboration with the British Council and secured a praiseworthy position,” said Faria Afrin, one of the Active Citizen enlisted under the project.
Later, Safe Web Save Women was awarded a grant from that very competition for its unique, well-timed, momentous idea, and work plan.
Having started less than a year ago, the project helps netizens to know the cyber laws and legislations and become aware of their cyber rights.
The project successfully performed a field survey at Dhaka University. Keeping the continuity of our work we arranged a session at Jahangirnagar University on "Cyber Harassment and Safety".
“The basic approach to the sessions was to aware of our youths about their lawful rights and about cyberbullying especially against harassment of women in social media,” Faria told UNB.
Their touchy video promotion “Be Kind Behind The Screen” to develop self-actualisation regarding cyberbullying and cyber harassment among the youth has made waves too.
“During this pandemic period, we are arranging online sessions on women’s cybersecurity, women’s safety, and mental health,” another Active Citizen Rakib Hasan told UNB.
Safe Web Save Women’s core governing team member Sanjida Ahmed said part of their goal is to ensure confidentiality, integrity, and availability of women into the online world.
“Our vision is to mitigate cyber violence against women, boosting women’s involvement in the safe technological field by enlightening them with the knowledge of cyber law, and safe browsing,” she told UNB.
One Active Citizen Tareque Rahman Nipun told UNB the project is working within the Dhaka City at the moment but soon it will expand to other parts of the country.
Democracywatch Project coordinator Rafayet Ara told UNB that the project stemmed from a unique idea. “Our volunteers are putting extraordinary efforts. We hope their initiative will be a success in bringing gender equality.”
“We are constantly working for inspiring women to raise their voices against cyberbullying, to aware people of ICT rights, and to support women mentally and lawfully by providing the right information at the right time,” she added.
Safe Web Save Women Project advisor Juela Zebunnesa Khan who is also Bangladesh Mahila Parishad Dhaka City Branch Movements Secretary stated that youthful volunteers from Safe Web Save Women are giving their effort relentlessly for the safety of women and children.
“I am expecting triumph in all ventures taken by them,” she added.
The Safe Web Save Women project also aims to create active citizen cells in different educational institutions for helping and counseling victimized female students.