How can social media help women report domestic violence? How can we help girls get online to tell their stories in places where it's difficult for them to connect? These were just a couple of the questions discussed at Ramallah's first Tech Camp, a two-day event that saw Palestinian women in the IT sector come together with representatives from Facebook, Yahoo!, Meetup, and local organizations like Souktel to find unique solutions to problems facing women in the region.
Funded by the U.S. State Department under Secretary Clinton's “Civil Society 2.0” initiative, last month’s Tech Camp in Palestine was the latest in a series of gatherings taking place around the globe--in places as diverse as Senegal, Ukraine and Guatemala.
About 100 participants showed up for presentations by Souktel's Dalia Othman and Kristen Roggemann, who spoke about using mobile technology to promote women's rights and help female youth find jobs.
"There was a lot of great energy at the camp," says Othman. "The participants were very excited to hear about this new technology -- they all knew what Facebook was, but learning about what Souktel and other smaller tech organizations are doing to solve today's problems led to a lot of excitement."
Facebook, as it turns out, was excited too: Elizabeth Linder, Government and Politics Specialist at the social network said “TechCamp Ramallah has been one of the most enthusiastic, inspiring, and meaningful experiences I've had since joining Facebook four years ago. The ideas we've generated together in just two days shows that we are moving fast and creating things.”