Refugee Women Move It Forward

As part of Code Week Europe 2016, on 15-16 October in Brussels, sixty teen and adult women–ranging in age from 15 to 55 and representing upwards of twenty-five nationalities–gathered at the Digital Leadership Institute’s inQube space for a Move It Forward “female digital starters” weekend. Through expert support and hands-on workshops on web development, app coding, the cloud and CRM, participants built and launched their own enterprises in support of women refugees and asylum seekers in Europe.

Ms. Anna Zobnina, Chair of the European Network of Migrant Women, who gave a keynote and took part in the event, shared the following: “When extremism and poverty attack women forcing them to flee their home, we should attack extremism and poverty by empowering refugee women to rebuild their dignified lives. And if we want to win, we have to be strategic and use the digital technology to fight violence and discrimination that women on the move face at every step of their journeys.”

Attendees of the Move It Forward event, twenty-five percent of whom were refugee women from across Europe, enjoyed an entire weekend dedicated to learning digital and entrepreneurial skills taught by DLI and its world-class technology partners, including Amazon Web Services, Onboard CRM and MIT AppInventor for Android.

On the final day of the event, the most innovative projects were selected for further incubation at inQube, and recognized later in the week at a European Parliament event hosted by KAGIDER, the Turkish women’s entrepreneurship association.  Recognized projects included:

Ms. Sanem Oktar, KAGIDER President said: “As the largest women’s entrepreneurship network in Turkey, KAGIDER is thrilled to ‘Move It Forward’ for female digital starters. We share the vision of economically empowering women to drive positive change in the world, and of enabling them to use technology to do that. We are therefore excited to showcase the successes of Move It Forward Brussels 2016 and to build on this with Move It Forward Istanbul in 2017.

The first Move It Forward weekend took place in January 2016 with support of the Brussels Capital Region. Four of the final projects received expert support from DLI for a period of five months, and several projects are continuing today. To build on its success in Brussels, DLI and its partners are now launching Move It Forward in other cities around the globe.

The two-day Move It Forward event is a flagship of the inQube female digital accelerator, a DLI initiative whose mission is to redress under-representation of women in tech startup.

Event Sponsors and Partners

Brussels Women Move It Forward

On 23-24 January, forty teen and adult women gathered at DLI’s inQube space in Brussels to develop websites and smartphone applications, and to launch their own enterprises to tackle cyberviolence and promote online safety for girls and women. Participants of the first-ever Move It Forward Brussels female digital starter weekend — organised by DLI and subsidised by the Brussels Capital Region — came from across Brussels and around the world, to improve their tech skills and try their hand at entrepreneurship.

Says Bianca Debaets, Brussels Minister for Equal Opportunity and Digitalisation, and supporter of the Move It Forward initiative: “When women take up an active role in the ICT and business worlds, they are stronger. And that should reduce cyberviolence against women too. In that way, Move It Forward serves a dual purpose: It makes more women entrepreneurs and it empowers them digitally.” (Read a full press release about the Move It Forward event in Dutch here: Move It Forward Persbericht 2016.)

Attendees of Move It Forward Brussels, from 14 to 54 in age and representing upwards of twenty-two nationalities, dedicated an entire weekend to learning digital and entrepreneurial skills taught by DLI and its worldclass technology partners, including Tableau Software, Amazon Web Services, WordPress and AppInventor. With the help of a dedicated and talented team of coaches, participants developed innovative projects that they presented to a jury on Sunday evening for top honors. Jury-members included Ms. Maité Morren, Councilmember for Ixelles responsible for ICT, and representatives from European Schoolnet, Child Focus Belgium, DLI and AWS.

The two-day Move It Forward Brussels initiative kicked off on Saturday morning with a keynote presentation by Ms. Ellen Van den Berghe, 2015 Young ICT Lady of the Year in Belgium, and closed with an inspiring talk by Ms. Terry Reintke, Member of European Parliament who recently authored a report on Women and the Digital Society.

Top awards for the weekend were presented to ENAC, Detrolled and iCompassion-Ubuntu, each promoting a unique approach for addressing cyberviolence against girls and women. All winning teams receive several months’ inQubation and startup coaching at DLI and free membership for one year on the Amazon Web Service platform. Each member of the Overall Best project team also received Amazon Fire tablets. In addition, several follow-up workshops are already planned to allow inQube community members to further develop the digital and entrepreneurship skills they started learning at Move It Forward Brussels.

Organisations across Europe have expressed interest in organising Move It Forward events in their own cities, and future plans for the Brussels inQube community include taking on additional challenges faced by Europe’s girls and women, including immigration and asylum-seeking, health and nutrition, media portrayal, etc. Please contact us if you would like to learn more about the Move It Forward initiative, to partner with DLI/inQube, and/or to organise a Move It Forward event in your city!