With intensified efforts from multinational organizations to support the financial independence of women, the blockchain industry has proven to be ripe with opportunities. The philosophy behind the distributed ledger technology is to create scalable social impact providing secure and immutable records of sequenced information or transactions. This positive socio-economic potential attracts women, often motivated by personal traumatic experiences who see the possibility of protecting the vulnerable and exposing the criminal through recorded data. The technology’s intentional function to decentralize wealth has garnered positive responses from women supporting women dealing with the inherant issues of refugee camps, sex trafficking, and human trafficking.
In October 2018, the benefits of blockchain technology to the global refugee crisis became a reality at Jordan’s Za’atari and Azraq refugee camps where adopting Ethereum based blockchain applications made UN aid more efficient while empowering female refugees. Hila Cohen, a developer and female leader \promoting the benefits of the Ethereum framework, played a key role in helping women living at refugee camps become financially independent. An iris scan to make purchases eliminated the need to carry cash, removing the potential of threat on campgrounds and breaking the cultural stigma, where families often only have the male of the family guarding finances and communication devices.
As a lead developer, Cohen has been pushing World Food Programme efforts through the Innovation Accelerator based in Munich, Germany. Ana Lukatela is another woman leading the charge through the UN Women’s Resilience to ensure the empowerment of female refugee’s suffering under undignified circumstances. By collecting unique biometric data this ensures the immutability of records and ensures its privacy.
Another significant case for the benefits of blockchain to vulnerable women is in dealing with the human trafficking industry. There are numerous cases of young women who survived horrific cases of abuse and went on to work with law enforcers to catch traffickers. Mariana’s story is one such case, drawing from her childhood of abuse to launch the World Identity Network partnering with the United Nations. WIN uses blockchain technology to provide self-sovereign identity to the invisible.
The Biometric Identity Management System mentioned earlier used within the Jordanian refugee camps also brings the potential vulnerability of data sharing entering the wrong hands. Mariana understood this risk. When applied to the persecuted Rohingya refugees, distributed ledger technology may be used to trace traffickers attempting to create false documents of stolen people. By collecting data on vulnerable people from Bangladesh, to Moldova to Mongolia, it will become easier to halt trafficking efforts. When this was proposed to the Moldovan government, leadership embraced the project without hesitation. By documenting vulnerable citizens, law enforcement on all levels will save financial resources and time. It is important to note 4.8 million people are sex trafficked on average globally in an industry that collects approximately $99 billion annually.
In Canada, Timea Nagy has been leading the way with Project Protect, with the help of law enforcement and Toronto’s banking sector, motivated by her personal traumatic experience of escaping the world of sex trafficking. An effort that began with tracing fiat transactions to locate human traffickers led to investigations into suspicious cryptocurrency purchases which proved to be conducted by human traffickers.
By partnering with major technology companies, adult sites could be scanned with the appropriate software to find patterns of trafficking. Since bitcoin is frequently exchanged for local currencies, it is necessary for all parties including banks and government to work together. One lead has been frequent small purchases directly by the client or through exchanges.
Nagy’s efforts have had global reach attaining interest from the Royal United Services Institute out of London to help in analyzing the challenges of AML regulation around cryptocurrencies. The European Union Parliament has expressed great efforts to implement Nagy’s regulation recommendations in the new framework.
The intentional effort behind blockchain technology to decentralize wealth has shown positive results with women supporting each other in issues involving refugee camps, sex trafficking, and human trafficking. With a public ledger framework, the industry encourages the creative entrepreneurial spirit. Those that succeed most, are those who focus on the social impact of distributed ledger technology.
Written by Shermineh Salieh Esmati
As the CEO and founder of Cyrus BC Inc. Shermineh provides advisory services to promote the interests of her clients through the application of innovative products. One focus of Cyrus BC is to bring deliverable blockchain initiatives to the attention of investors focused on the security and socio-economic benefits of the technology.
With a background in foreign policy and intelligence analysis, Shermineh has been using her grasp of geopolitics to aid blockchain companies to best pursue growth while respecting international cryptocurrency regulations and blockchain policy. To ensure the expedited adoption of fintech products she is working with Blockchain Intelligence Group, New Economies DLT and building collaborative efforts for AI blockchain projects soon to be announced.
Shermineh has experience advising intelligence agencies, political leaders, management consultancies and human rights organizations. In the pursuit of developing an expertise in international security, Shermineh obtained her bachelor’s degree with a Specialist in Political Science at the University of Toronto and is completing her master’s degree in Government at Harvard University. To further Canada’s efforts in emerging technology she is also a member of the Blockchain Association of Canada and an Advisor to the Open Source Data Committee at the Treasury Board Secretariat in Ottawa, Canada.