Safe YOU is a mobile app available in Armenia, Georgia, and Northern Iraq (Kurdistan) designed to empower and protect women and girls from violence and raise awareness on key gender-based issues. Safe YOU connects victims of gender-based violence with resources that include emergency assistance, free forum discussions with service professionals (lawyers, psychologists, and healthcare workers providing support on a pro-bono basis), safe spaces for peer-to-peer dialogue, and up-to-date information about where to seek help. The app also helps with evidence collection in cases of abuse, and above all, prioritizes user privacy and safety by utilizing multiple advanced security layers. Safe YOU was developed by activist and social entrepreneur Mariam Torosyan in partnership with IT professionals and gender-based violence experts. To disseminate the app to new geographies, Safe YOU partners with NGOs, local governments, colleges/universities, and international institutions. Safe YOU is free to use and available for download from GooglePlay and Apple’s App Store.
Theory of Change
Providing victims of gender-based violence with a safe, remote space to build community and access emergency support helps destigmatize the act of seeking help and brings to light otherwise unreported instances of abuse.
Safe YOU focuses heavily on providing safety and support to users in high-risk situations. Upon downloading the app, users can pre-select up to 7 contacts – up to 3 family or friends and up to 3 NGOs or professional service providers as well as the police – to whom they can send an emergency message if ever in immediate danger. This pre-selection of emergency contacts enables the user to use the in-app SOS button, which alerts contacts of the victim’s location and initiates an audio-recording of the victim’s surroundings, facilitating evidence collection. When not in immediate danger, users can use the forum section to speak anonymously with peers and ask verified professionals for advice. Safe YOU’s network of psychologists, lawyers, and healthcare workers is especially valuable to women living in remote areas who are unable to travel to access services and consultations. Moderators monitor all forums to ensure the security of users. With very little data on violence against women collected globally, Safe YOU also acts as a data collection and analysis platform. Anonymous and confidential data collected through the platform provides a live-monitoring tool to track and prevent cases of gender-based violence. In the future, Safe YOU plans to expand to Arab states and Africa. It also plans to develop a follow-up and feedback system to understand whether or not users received help.
Safe YOU has more than 28,000 users across Armenia, Georgia, and Iraq, with a total of 60,000 women who have utilized the platform. More than 14,000 women have reported cases of violence and abuse using Safe YOU, and over 8,000 women have used its network of psychologists, lawyers, and healthcare workers. In several instances, Safe YOU has led to the prosecution of abusers thanks to the incident data collected through its platform. One eminent case involved a 26-year-old mother in Georgia who downloaded Safe YOU after receiving death threats from her former husband. When she and her three-year-old child were attacked by him several days later, she was able to activate the in-app SOS button and alert the police, who quickly arrived to the scene. The audio recording captured by Safe YOU was then used as a crucial piece of evidence in the court proceeding. Safe YOU was among 55 changemaking organizations selected for the UNDP-led BOOST: Women Innovators Accelerator Program. Safe YOU is also enrolled in the Google for Startups SDG program and has won several prestigious awards from the EU, the World Bank Group, UNFPA, and the Government of Armenia.