Innovative Iraqi idea receives top prize

hurilab participants
Iraqi HuriLab participants in Yerevan, Armenia. Photo by UNDP Iraq 2013.

Unemployment among Iraq’s youth poses a major challenge to the country’s development. In 2011, 18 per cent of youths aged 15-24 were reported to be unemployed. Despite this, a number of remarkable young Iraqi entrepreneurs are managing to break through and establish successful businesses.

Highlights

  • Nine teams from eight countries converged on Armenia to build ventures that advance human rights and increase access to justice.
  • All nine teams had to present their ventures to a panel of judges after prototyping their projects in 48-hours.
  • Sarhang’s team caught the judges’ attention with a tool to monitor symbolic violence against women in Iraq through crowdsourcing and data mining.

One such individual was Sarhang Hars, a master’s degree student from Iraq’s Kurdistan Region whose idea recently won the Hurilab competition in Armenia, being selected over entries from Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Montenegro and Ukraine. HuriLab is an international social innovation initiative that is devoted to promoting human rights and access to justice. Hurilab brings together ideas, people and digital tools to build web-based solutions to social problems. This year, UNDP agreed to support the initiative by providing the top three ventures with a grant.

UNDP selected Hars’s idea from a total of 42 submissions from Iraq. His idea is to create a platform that monitors and flags comments that misrepresent women in the local media. His project, named Amedia Watch will report any news articles or stories published in the Kurdish and Arabic press that may be deemed offensive to the female population.

UNDP will now organise a workshop to provide feedback to all 42 participants who entered the competition from Iraq.