Apathy is one of the biggest challenges women’s rights campaigners face today. How do activists inspire the wider public to listen, engage and care about equality? Enter the world of Virtual Reality (VR) and we may have found the answer.
As an immersive storytelling tool, VR gives individuals the chance to experience lives of “the other”. In honor of 2017’s Ada Lovelace Day, we take a look at three VR projects aiming to bring awareness to women’s rights through the power of empathy, awareness and education.
1. VR for behavior change: At Ada’s List Conference 2017 this past weekend, Yasmine Boudiaf, Director of Serious Datum, a company which uses VR, AR and 360-degree video to tell stories and solve problems, spoke about her latest passion project - her attempt to change sexist behavior in the workplace through immersive experiences. Boudiaf focused on the need for a better and more effective approach to diversity training addressing subtle sexism women encounter in the office everyday. During her talk, attendees watched an office role play between a woman and her male colleagues and were asked to pinpoint the exact moment when microaggressions happened.
2. VR for awareness: Just last month, a London art show in support of the UK charity End Violence Against Women, provided attendees with a VR experience: stepping into the shoes of women experiencing catcalling and street harassment. The VR experience aimed to “give men and women a visceral understanding of what it is really like to be attacked in the street or on public transport just because you are a woman”.
3. VR for education: Earlier this year, to mark International Women’s Day, interactive media platform ThingLink launched Women’s Rights 360 Degree Virtual Field Trip. The project’s aim is to help teachers and students discuss the complex topic of global gender equality and women’s rights in the classroom. Combined with 360 video and audio storytelling, students have the chance to virtually “travel across the world and learn about education, healthcare, social justice, as well as women’s economic and political participation in each country.”