Our immediate goal at Spher is for a world where womxn and non-binary people feel safe walking down the street, in the cab or at the club. This is why we built an app where you (as a user) can connect and share your location with friends and family when needed. One may say that our company focuses on delivering “safety” or “security”. Yet, we did not think for a second that our ambition should stop there.
More than a product, we are a movement
We know that, when it comes to womxn and non-binary, the issue of safety in public and private spaces is extremely complex. Fear of assault and harassment is entrenched in our very social structures, which continue to normalise gender-based violence. We know an app cannot fix this right away, but together we can.
No safety app alone will defeat the patriarchy. However, we see tech as an amplifier for education, conversation and community building. All these elements together can work as a solution. We believe that we must raise awareness on gender inequality and inclusivity, and educate others, especially men. Our long-term vision is to build a womxn first movement which invites all you users to join the fight for a structural change. We are ready to join forces with activists, companies and organisations with the sole purpose of creating a better tomorrow for you.
Yet, the first version of our app prioritises keeping you safe. This is because we have a precise roadmap in mind: it might take time, but we believe in our vision. Let us take you on a journey from safety to empowerment.
Why do we target safety first?
We know that womxn and non-binary people are tired of being told to look after their safety, so we will never tell you that. We know that there is no need of reminding you: for those who are not cis men, it is second nature to keep keys between one’s fingers while walking home, buy pepper spray or take longer routes to avoid sexual assault and harassment. And these acts are never enough: according to UN Women, globally, almost one in three womxn has been victim of sexual violence at least once. The figure is even more dramatic for transgender and non-binary people.
The statistics prove that coming up with better safety measures as a short-term solution remains necessary. The fear of assault does not only negatively impact health and well-being; it also directly limits freedom. It often stops womxn and non-binary from going out when and where they wish, or from participating in public life. If by using Spher you can feel more secure, this means that you have more freedom and control over your life. We also like to think that our app is to some extent lifting that (unjust) responsibility of keeping yourself safe. This is already a piece of empowerment.
Community brings you safety, trust, and power
Keeping yourself safe is a heavy burden, and we absolutely do not want you to do it alone. Womxn and non-binary people are not the problem, and in an ideal world they should not be taking additional actions to protect themselves. As already mentioned, getting to that ideal goal will require a lot more than good safety measures. However, we think that placing you in a supportive community within our app is already a step in the right direction.
We do not want to remind you that you are in danger. We want to remind you that you are powerful and that together we have some resources to help you live your life to the fullest. In our first version, we encourage you to invite your already existing support system of family and friends to the app. However, in the future, we would like the app to become a support system of its own, building a community where users can interact with each other outside their spheres. You will thus be able to join a large and supportive community, in which you can find a sense of belonging, be inspired, and learn from others. And here we come to the last fundamental step in our journey: education.
Education is key
First, we aim to educate ourselves and our community of users. Our team strives to become as educated and informed as possible on the topics of sexual assault and harassment, gender equality and gender inclusivity. We believe that we should learn first and foremost from our users. In no way we think that we have all the answers: we will learn and improve along the way. Please reach out to us, whenever you feel that our content is not on point, or if we make any mistakes in how we phrase things. We learn from you.
When it comes to educating our users, do not worry. We do not intend to lecture you or give you tips on how to keep yourself safe. We will not produce or promote any content that encourages or even remotely hints to victim-blaming. We do however believe in the power of offering a safe space to discuss topics such as equality, inclusion, mental health, and everyday experiences. Helping our users understand how things work, why they happen, and the best way to process them can make a huge difference. We think that this is true empowerment.
Secondly, we aim to bring external awareness on sexual assault and harassment to as many people as possible. We need to target the real problem: we need to stop male violence. Patriarchy needs to end. We want to invite as many people into the conversation as possible, with diverse gender identities, sexual orientations, ethnicities, abilities. Most importantly, we want to amplify the voices of those who are normally ignored. And we do not only intend to do this through our content. In our long-term vision, we will use your input to lobby authorities, cab companies and club owners. The more we grow as a community, the bigger of a voice we will have and the chance that we will be heard.
Thirdly, we want to take a step further, by building and launching an app towards boys. We target them since we believe that if we ever wish to see an end to this, we should start educating them when they are young.
This is not how we change the world, but this is how we begin
We hope that you enjoyed this sneak peek into our journey. We are targeting a very complex problem, and this is only the beginning. To continue to do so, we need YOUR help.