JOHANNESBURG - Four female students from the University of Cape Town have won a National Technology Competition. The competition, titled: GirlCode Hackathon is a 48-hour non-stop programme which took place in Johannesburg over the weekend.
The Hackathon is the 4th annual competition of its kind. It is held annually on the first weekend of August and coincides with Women's month.
The all-female winning team is currently enrolled in an Honours programme at the University of Cape Town's Information Systems (IS) department.
Their victory in the competition is awarded by achieving first prize of an all-expenses paid trip to Silicon Valley in the United States of America.
Girlcode Hackathon competitors were tasked to compete in a 48-hour non-stop programming challenge.
During the 48-hour contest, the winning team created a website, Ámava' which means 'experience' in isiXhosa. The website allows volunteers to connect with Non-Profit Organisations (NGOs).
“Winning is surreal. We can’t quite believe that we’re going to the US. We are very, very excited about going to Silicon Valley to learn more and network. It’s a tremendous opportunity,” said team member, Fadzai Mupfunya.
The challenge was run by NGO, Girl Code, which aims to empower women through technology.
The organisation also encourages and motivates women to pursue careers and leadership positions in the male-dominated tech industry.
“This experience has given us the confidence to show clearly that we have a lot to bring to the table. As women, we can rise to the top in the tech space,” said UCT IS Honours student, Valerie Tshiani.
The UCT IS Honours students chose social welfare as their category and targeted a solution for unemployment.
According to team member, Lorna Nqodi, the website connected non-governmental organisations and volunteers for mutual benefit.
“Amava is targeted at unemployed millennials and people who want to up-skill themselves. It directly links volunteers with roles that are advertised in the workforce. These include posts for accounting, engineering and software development that are needed by NGOs that can’t afford to hire these skills”, said Ngodi.
The website enables volunteers to find NGOs in communities within their proximity and transport and food costs are covered.
The team member further adds that as an unemployed millennial herself, transport and food costs are often a hindrance when it comes to volunteering your time with no pay.
Among the competitors were teams from the University of Cape Town, Wits University and the University of Johannesburg (UJ) who claimed the top three places respectively.
Vice-Chairwoman of GirlCode, Jeanette Theu, said the GirlCode Hackathon was open to all women who wanted to collaboratively create a website, game or mobile app that addressed a selected real world challenge.
The four-woman team called ‘Ruby’ credited UCT’s IS department and their lecturers for encouraging them to enter the GirlCode Hackathon and for arranging for them to participate in Johannesburg and ultimately achieve one of their dreams.