Totally hacked

Hackathon participants had fun testing their skills at the event hosted by the US Embassy at the weekend.

The US Embassy in South Africa hosted a hackathon last week to explore what can be done to make communities safer and produce technology that could save lives.

The “Tackling Gender-Based Violence Through Tech Hackathon” was held from Friday November 22 to Sunday November 24 at the Ernst & Young building at the V&A Waterfront ahead of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign.

It was attended by experts on gender-based violence, students, entrepreneurs and IT professionals.

US consulate Mignon Cardentey said, “A hackathon is like a sprint as opposed to a marathon – it draws together individuals and experts to come up with solutions in less than 24 hours that can help make our communities safer.”

Will Stevens, Deputy Consul General at the US Consulate in Cape Town, said the scourge of gender-based violence is something that affects communities in South Africa and the United States.

“We must stand together to stop it. By bringing together South African and American civic activists, coders, and creatives, we believe that this hackathon will offer real solutions to help tackle the problem in both our societies.”

Founderof HackOn, Lianne du Toit said, “We are solving wicked problems that not one person or organisation can solve alone.

“I am yet to meet a woman who either has or knows of someone that has not been affected by a gender-based violence issue.”

Apart from identifying priority threats in South Africa as a whole, participants formed teams where they had to come up with solutions that could help women who are battling gender-based violence or who could face this threat.

There were also prizes up for grabs and the winning team walked away with
R25 000.

The Warrior Project’s Yvonne Wakefield said, “Gender-based violence is a complex issue that will need a number of interventions aimed at different groups simultaneously to effect positive change in the long term.

“The use of technology is key in designing these interventions to allow accessibility of resources, population reach and impact measurement.”

She added that, “through these honest and collaborative conversations” communities and industries that might not have had the opportunity to cross paths could share visions for solving these complex problems.