GirlCode hosts virtual hackathon to find COVID-19 solutions

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Zandile Mkwanazi, GirlCode chairwoman.
Zandile Mkwanazi, GirlCode chairwoman.

The unique set of challenges created by COVID-19 presents the opportunity to provide innovative solutions to bridging the digital divide. For GirlCode, a nationwide network of coding clubs, the pandemic also presents an opportunity to develop local solutions to a global crisis.

The GirlCode hackathon is hosted annually during the first weekend of August, Women’s Month, to expose young women to the software industry while giving them practical development experience and access to industry leaders.

This year’s hackathon will be the organisation’s first virtual one and will take place from 31 July to 2 August.

Teams of between two and four members will be challenged to “hack from home”. The competition is open to females who are currently studying an IT-related degree or diploma, or have recently graduated.

GirlCode chairwoman Zandile Mkwanazi says: “I encourage participants to think about local solutions that relate to one or more of the UN Sustainable Development Goals within the context of [the COVID-19 pandemic].

“We’d like to see solutions that connect people and drive better productivity. This can be about local deliveries, small businesses serving their communities, women in rural areas selling their beaded work online… the sky is the limit!”

Participants will be judged on their solutions’ novelty, user experience and design, as well as functionality. Some of the event’s sponsors – Amazon Web Services (AWS), Mint and Synthesis − will serve as judges.

Prizes for the hackathon winners include tablets, vouchers for Udemy online courses, and an opportunity to be recruited into AWS’s three-month graduate programme.

Archana Arakkal, machine learning engineer at Synthesis, says GirlCode has created a platform to support the young women who are passionate about becoming part of the next technological revolution.

“The weekend of coding and exciting attempts at using new-edge technology will really have their creative juices flowing. I’m excited to see the outcome.”

Registrations for the hackathon close on 24 July. Final submissions will take place on 2 August.

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