Three teenagers in Albania develop an App that fights gender-based violence

Through the innovative GjejZâ App users are empowered to help to identify the problem and take action

Arla Hoxha, Dea Rrozhani and Jonada Shukarasi
Decoders
UNICEF
06 February 2020

About the authors: 

Arla Hoxha, Dea Rrozhani and Jonada Shukarasi are all 16 years old and are known as the D3c0ders. The three teenagers from Albania won first prize at the global technology and entrepreneurship competition Technovation for their application GjejZâ. The App provides support to users who have experienced gender-based violence.

 

Albania faces many challenges, as does every country in the world. But one headline on the news caught our attention: “Woman abused and brutally murdered by her partner”. Seeing things like this on the news has become a regular occurrence.  It is a result of an outdated mentality that justifies abuse against women and is being passed down from generation after generation - including to our generation. Even among our peers, we see early signs of abuse and control passing on as normal parts of relationships. That is when we decided we had to do something about it.

This is how GjejZâ was born.

GjejZâ translates to “Find your voice”, which is exactly what we want to achieve. We want to give girls and women who have suffered abuse the courage to speak up against it and turn their lives around. We designed our app to be user-friendly and have conducted research as well as communicated with experts to ensure that all the content was reliable, appropriate and effective.

Decoders with Prime Minster of Albania
UNICEF
Decoders with Prime Minster of Albania

Each menu serves a specific purpose and it is dedicated to a certain aspect of the user’s life. Three are the main pillars GjejZâ is focused on - Identifying the Problem, Empowering the User and Taking Action.

From becoming aware of their current situation to working on their self-esteem and taking the courage to report the abuse, GjejZâ offers both short-term and long-term solutions to help users ensure they are safe, financially independence as well as mentally and physically healthy.

In a short time, we managed to gain a lot of support from organizations as well as government institutions. The innovation program we are part of is under the American Embassy patronage. We have collaborated with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and have received support from UNICEF.

Although we had worked hard, we were astounded to find out we had qualified for the Technovation finals, held in San Francisco. It seemed almost unbelievable and sometimes it still does.

Decoders provide training for girls in a school in North Albania
UNICEF
Decoders provide training for girls in a school in North Albania

In San Francisco, we visited technology giants and talked about our app in front of innovators and entrepreneurs. Nonetheless, nothing compared to the stressful excitement that was the World Pitch Summit. We were sure our presentation went great, but so did everyone else’s. We felt we had a huge responsibility on our shoulders because we no longer represented only our team, but a whole country.

When they called out our name - D3c0ders - as the winners of the first prize, we could not believe it. It was such a surprise that for a moment we could not react to the news and then we burst into tears.

It was clear then that we had to continue working on GjejZâ, not only because of the recognition it had received, but because an app like GjejZâ is needed. Winning the first place in a global competition with our app inspired us to work harder.

GjejZâ was officially launched in October and is available for download to all Android users.