[EN] SEMA #skillbasedvolunteering #women #war


SEMA was created in June 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland, at the first global retreat of survivors of conflict-related sexual violence. […] In 2022, the Mukwege Foundation organised the 4th global retreat in which SEMA members celebrated the 5th year anniversary of SEMA.

Personal notes

I believe women should have the same chances to succeed in this world as men. And what success means, should be defined by women – not by anyone else on behalf of them.

I am a woman in Tech. For me, succeeding means to be able to get credit for my achievements in the domain of software engineering, and to get opportunities: I want my peers, my managers and my clients to believe that I can deliver – the same way a man standing in my place would deliver.

But for some women out there, the chances of succeeding in this world are held back in the most horrible ways… Some women have to fight for their life and for the control over their own body every day.

The foundation of Dr. Dennis Mukwege


“The Mukwege Foundation supports victims and survivors of conflict-related sexual violence to unite and stand up for their rights.

Not only do survivors of sexual violence face a cascade of long-term physical, psychological, social and economic consequences, they live with the burden of being shunned or silenced by their communities. Stigma can have lasting, potentially lethal, repercussions, including ‘honour killings’, suicide and high-risk survival behaviour. It prevents survivors from seeking justice, excludes them from their communities, and often leaves them to care for themselves and their children without any support.

Silence is sometimes the best protection that survivors have against stigma, and so the pain and the devastating consequences of these crimes remain hidden. Coming forward, breaking the silence and claiming their rights is often an insurmountable task that cannot be achieved alone.”

My involvement: Building the SEMA prototype in 2019

This is a project I did as part of my Tech Pro Bono work.

In Jul 2019 I met Tammy Sheldon, women’s rights activist… with whom we became friends, and whom I admire ever since. I told her I want to support her efforts in making the world a better place, and I asked her if she needs skill based volunteering work in the field of IT.

By August, we were drawing up a project plan, to build a communication platform for women in war zones, where they can connect with like-minded people and the language barriers would be eliminated by technology. Tammy dreamt of a comm platform where automated real time machine translation would bridge the gap between people from Kosovo to Syria to Congo. And she asked me if such a thing is technically possible And I said, there is no one I know that has created such a platform, but my professional opinion is that it IS technically possible.

By September I built a prototype, to prove that I am right. By December 2020 they launched the platform \o/

Being part of this has been an uplifting experience for me, and it had a big influence on how I see the world today, and what my goals are. 

Find more details (tech stuff) here:
Source code: https://github.com/harbour77/babel-post
Demo deployment: http://semaproto.herokuapp.com/English/