Microsoft SA and NPOs launch hackathon to help tackle gender-based violence

By Yasmine Jacobs Time of article published Aug 12, 2020

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Johannesburg – Microsoft South Africa has joined forces with leading gender-based violence NPO partners, 1000 Women Trust and TEARS Foundation to launch the [email protected] Hackathon to address gender-based violence in South Africa.

The virtual hackathon is set to run from September 22 to October 19 and invites the South African developer community to create and develop technology-based solutions to help victims of gender-based violence and vulnerable women and children.

“Gender-based violence is one of the most pressing and critical challenges South Africa faces. President Cyril Ramaphosa identified it as the second pandemic our country is currently battling and a war that is being waged against our women and children, with over 40% of South African women experiencing sexual and/or physical interpersonal violence in their lifetime,” said Lillian Barnard, Managing Director of Microsoft South Africa.

“Together, we will provide the support needed as we call on developers across the country to come together, understand the issues surrounding gender-based violence, and create and develop technology-based solutions that can help save lives.”

Approximately 62% of women say they have experienced abuse during lockdown - and most have have gone unreported.

A study by the World Health Organisation found that 42 percent of females between 13 and 23 in the country reported experiencing physical dating violence.

This number is alarming but what is more sad is that the incidence of unreported violence is much higher – and getting worse.

“Violence against women and children is escalating under the current circumstances, with many South Africans confined to their homes. This indicates a clear need to take action to address gender-based violence in South Africa,” said Tina Thiart, founder of 1000 Women.

Microsoft South Africa is pledging its support to helping address gender-based violence through the [email protected] Hackathon.

The [email protected] Hackathon aims to facilitate collaboration to create and develop technology-based solutions that will work in the context of South Africa’s unique circumstances and challenges.

[email protected] in South Africa is replicating the successful initiative piloted by Microsoft Israel in partnership with the "Michal Sela Forum” and the country’s developer community to create and develop technology-based solutions to help victims of gender-based violence.

The Michal Sela Forum is headed by the sister of a victim of gender-based violence. The hackathon was a success and resulted in the development of a number of applications that will be deployed in Israel to help other women and children who need it.

The winning idea will be developed into a full application that will be deployed to support women across South Africa who need help, and make a difference in curbing gender-based violence in South Africa.

The top three teams also stand to win cash prizes. The winners will be announced on 26 October.

“I look forward to exploring the possibilities that technology can provide to help keep women and children ‘[email protected]’, and working together to tackle the scourge of gender-based violence in South Africa. The time for collective action is now,” said Mara Glennie, founder and director at TEARS Foundation.

Glennie added that gender-based violence is a “societal ill” that needs to addressed urgently.

South African developers wanting to facilitate positive change can enter to join the hackathon here: https://safeathome.bemyapp.com/

IOL TECH

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