I am Generation Equality: Net Supatravanij, Thai social entrepreneur and activist against gender-based violence
Billions of people across the world stand on the right side of history every day. They speak up, take a stand, mobilize, and take big and small actions to advance women’s rights. This is Generation Equality.
Three actions you can take to stop violence against women:
- Be ready to intervene to stop attacks
- Enlist men’s help to achieve equality for women
- Encourage companies to put more money into women’s equality and protection programmes.
I am Generation Equality because…
I want to show people that you don’t need to be suffering to empathize with others. My work with ila, at its core, is about empowering gender-based violence survivors and making gender equality a standard — not a privilege.
I am the co-founder of ila, a social enterprise start-up that uses human-centred design to help businesses foster inclusion.
During COVID, women have been disproportionately disadvantaged, and in times of lockdown, 15 million women are affected by gender-based violence every three months. I wanted to create a support system where bystanders are trained to help domestic abuse victims and redirect them towards help by becoming allies; that’s how my team at ila came up with our application ALLY.
ila, reflecting our global team, is based in London and has worked on projects in Bangkok, Mumbai and Nairobi. Pre-COVID, we worked on a skills-training initiative for gender-based violence survivors (of sex trafficking, domestic abuse, rape) in Mumbai by connecting them to an employee engagement program with companies like Unilever and WeWork. Now, pivoting and honing in on domestic abuse specifically, we want to provide more safe spaces for victims.
“Corporations (should) invest in gender equality projects; gender equality — SDG 5 ”
Being ready to intervene
Our human-centred research approach at ila discovered that access to emergency helplines wasn’t the real barrier preventing women and men in abusive relationships from seeking help. It was the lack of support and escape routes. When a victim is trapped at home, the few places they can go to are essential stores. As such, ALLY was created to upskill retail staff to recognize signs of abuse victims. Currently there are 327 gender-based violence applications, but 47 per cent just have a short-term emergency button and zero are focused on bystander training.
Giving support is key
People should recognize that gender equality is not just a women’s issue. Male allyship is crucial to ending gender inequalities. Upskill yourself in allyship – 87 per cent of trained bystanders are more likely to help and intervene in a domestic abuse incident.
People also should recognize that gender equality is not just a public sector issue. The private sector have just as big of a role to play. Young gender equality change-makers from inside companies have the potential to be the biggest asset for corporations and create impact from the bottom-up.
Corporations (should) invest in gender equality projects; gender equality — United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5 — is one of the least-invested sustainable development goals when it comes to businesses. This includes putting money behind pledges and equity, diversity and inclusion programmes. You never know how many employees, how many of your co-workers or bosses are suffering in what UN Women now dubs “the shadow pandemic” [domestic violence during COVID lockdowns].
Net Supatravani is the Thai founder of ila, a social enterprise start-up and creator of anti-domestic abuse app ALLY. Net is a participant of the Generation Equality Asia Pacific Design Challenge, convened by UN Women and World Design Organization.