Hera Hussain, Chayn, UK
Leveraging tech to give women life-saving resources
“It gives us life to hear that survivors of abuse find our free, open-source resources to be vital in getting help.”
At the intersection of gender-based violence and tech, Hera Hussain’s open-source project, Chayn, is closing the critical information gap to help women find safety. Domestic abuse survivors often have tiny windows of opportunity when their partners are not around, during which to access support online.
A survivor once told us, “It took me 15 clicks to find the information on a local refuge. If you only have 5 minutes alone, that’s at least 10 clicks too many.”
That’s where Chayn’s latest innovation, Little Window, comes in. The smart search-bot directs women to the information they need as fast as possible, “like a google search on turbo” drastically reducing the time it takes to get help, which can save lives.
More than 200,000 people have consulted Chayn, a shining example of how collaborative design can power such an impact, since its launch in 2013. The multi-country, survivor-led site pools resources on domestic abuse and gender-based violence.
Crowd-sourced from survivors and expert-informed, guides include Do It Yourself Online Safety to help survivors circumvent online tracking from abusers, and How to Build Your Own Domestic Violence Case Without A Lawyer. Since Chayn is run by 400 volunteers, its costs are low with its hybrid economic model relying mainly on grants and donations. Now Chayn is looking to revamp its business model with revenue-generating services such as Soul Medicine, a multi-lingual learning platform delivering micro-courses for women experiencing abuse, including migrants and refugees.
“With a large proportion of Chayn’s volunteers being survivors of abuse themselves, we’ve always said that we design with, not for. This means that all of our resources are survivor-led, and reflect their feedback on what would help women facing abuse most. We combine this lived-experience with the know-how of experts to ensure our guides are both accurate and useful for the women we’re trying to reach.” Hera Hussain, founder of Chayn