WeThinkCode female developers triumph at GBV hackathon

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Matshidiso Bodibe, head of Empire Partner Foundation.
Matshidiso Bodibe, head of Empire Partner Foundation.

Training academy WeThinkCode female developers excelled at a gender-based-violence (GBV) hackathon held in Sandton, creating a tech solution targeting perpetrators of violence against women.

The software developers were part of a four-member group going by the moniker “Winning Team”, which picked up the top prize of the R30 000 that was up for grabs.

The Winning Team, comprising Mmathabo Pule (25), Daisy Mangue (21), Keitumetse Bokaba (29) and Lulamile Mkhungela (30), emerged winners from a pool of 60 participants.

Pule and Mangue are developers from WeThinkCode, which is on a mission to recruit more females to take up software development training.

The 10th hackathon hosted by Empire Partner Foundation (EPF) focused on how SA can use innovation and tech to address and combat GBV by targeting the root cause: the perpetrators.

The Winning Team’s solution, HashScape, is a multi-platform mobile application that helps prevent gender-based violence by using artificial intelligence to identify and analyse signs of abuse. The tech solution also informs perpetrators of their behaviour.

Mangue, team leader of the Winning Team, comments: “For us, winning validates the significance of our solution and we feel proud to have been victorious in solving such a critical problem in our country.

“The inspiration really came from the idea that prevention is better than cure; if we can prevent gender-based violence from happening, we would combat the elephant in the room, which are the perpetrators.

“To young developers, your skills are important and are relevant, so keep building solutions, and hackathons are one way to test and apply your skills.

“We are committed to ensuring the app comes to life; as diverse as we are with our skills set, we will bring this to life. We are grateful for the incubation that comes with winning. We hope it'll be lucrative and very supportive in ensuring this solution is realised,” says Mangue.

The hackathon was held to commemorate Women’s Month, seeking technology solutions to curb the scourge of GBV, which has been engulfing the country.

Daisy Mangue, WeThinkCode software developer.
Daisy Mangue, WeThinkCode software developer.

GBV cases spiked during Women’s Month, with government’s official citizen engagement platform GovChat saying it witnessed a surge in reports of cyber bullying and GBV in August.

In a joint statement, GovChat and the South African Women in ICT Forum say a total of 532 cases were reported via their online interactive GBV engagement platform.

The top five incident types included 98 cases of domestic violence, 80 cases of emotional abuse, 78 cases of abandoned children, 40 of physical abuse, and 34 cases of verbal abuse and intimidation.

Technology non-profit organisation EPF, which hosted the GBV hackathon, says it hopes the Winning Team’s solution will be widely adopted and help fight violence against women across the country.

EPF head Matshidiso Bodibe tells ITWeb the organisation is attending to SA’s urgent needs through technology in multiple ways.

She explains: “The NGO hosts hackathons every month that provide a free platform for young software developers to apply their ICT skills in creating innovative tech solutions to combat South Africa’s most pressing public sector issues.

“EPF is managing collaborations to scale its projects by partnering with state-owned enterprises and private organisations crucial to ICT development in South Africa.

“We have partnered with South African Local Government Organisation, MICT SETA, The Good People Data Company, Department of Higher Education and Training, iSchool Africa and Tshepo 1Million, to name a few.

“It is incredibly vital for EPF to maintain collaborations and harness projects that will be effective for socio- economic development in South Africa.”

Bodibe says her team plans to scale projects to reach the majority of the African continent by promoting online hackathons to increase the number of participants.

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