A technology initiative by Microsoft South Africa, together with leading gender-based violence NPO partners, 1000 Women Trust and TEARS Foundation, will encourage local developers to develop solutions to address gender-based violence in South Africa.
The South African developer community has been invited to a virtual event, the Safe@Home Hackathon, running from 22 September to 19 October, 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,” says Lillian Barnard, managing director of Microsoft South Africa. “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.”
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. 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,” says Tina Thiart, founder of 1000 Women.
Microsoft South Africa is pledging its support to helping address gender-based violence through the Safe@Home Hackathon. Hackathons are aimed at finding solutions to specific challenges through collaborative brainstorming and programming in a short space of time. The Safe@Home Hackathon will look to facilitate collaboration to create and develop technology-based solutions that will work in the context of South Africa’s unique circumstances and challenges.
“Our goal is to find real, sustainable solutions to help South Africa’s most vulnerable and at-risk,” says Barnard. “Ensuring that we are able to build these kinds of fit-for-purpose technology-based solutions will require partnerships with developers, NGOs in the gender-based violence space like TEARS Foundation and 1000 Women, government, corporate South Africa and other technology players.
“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.”
Safe@Home in South Africa is replicating the successful initiative piloted by Microsoft Israel in partnership with the Michal Sela Forum – headed by the sister of a victim of gender-based violence – and the country’s developer community to create and develop technology-based solutions to help victims of gender-based violence. The hackathon resulted in the development of a number of applications that will be deployed in Israel to help other women and children who need it.
Likewise, South Africa’s hackathon aims help the country’s most vulnerable. The intention is that 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 ‘safe@home’, and working together to tackle the scourge of gender-based violence in South Africa” says Mara Glennie, founder and director at TEARS Foundation. “The time for collective action is now.”
South African developers can enter to join the hackathon at: https://safeathome.bemyapp.com/