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Hackathon zones in on digital solutions to curb GBV

23 September 2020


Tech incubator Silicon Cape and the US Embassy in South Africa are coming together once more, to run a weekend-long hackathon aimed at finding digital solutions to fight the scourge of gender-based violence (GBV) in the country.

While the hackathon, which forms part of the Embassy’s year-long initiative called “Hackathons for South Africa: Digital Solutions for Real World Challenges”, has taken place offline in the past, the upcoming event will be held virtually. The hackathon is happening when South Africa is witnessing a spike in GBV-related offences and femicide, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic and nation-wide lockdown.

Yesterday, police minister Bheki Cele described gender-based violence as the second pandemic that is at crisis levels in the country, saying government has pinned down 30 GBV hotspots in line with response efforts. Cele previously indicated that in the first five days of the COVID-19-induced lockdown, the police force’s GBV hotline received 2 300 calls – nearly three times the rate prior to lockdown.

In a statement, Silicon Cape says the virtual hackathon will take place over the weekend of 3 and 4 October, with a bootcamp to be hosted between Monday, 5 and Friday, 9 October.Emerging software developers, IT professionals, trainers, civil society organisations, students, academics and professionals with expertise relevant to the theme are all invited to attend the hackathon. They will be asked to explore what can be done to make communities safer, investigate how best to respond to threats, and produce tech ideas that could save lives. All teams takiNg part in the hackathon will pitch their ideas to the audience and judges. Sunday, 11 October will see them deliver their final presentations, after which the winning solution will be selected and a prize-giving ceremony will be held.

The winning team will walk away with R25 000, the runner-up will receive R15 000 and there will be R5 000 in spot prizes up for grabs. Silicon Cape chairperson Dr Sumarie Roodt says: “Tech has the power to change lives, so why shouldn’t it be applied to solving one of the biggest challenges plaguing South Africa.”

For the bootcamp, anyone is allowed to join, to learn more about topics such as design thinking, rapid prototyping and taking one’s app to market. It will be held daily on the Embassy’s Facebook page, comprising lunchtime talks and featuring speakers such as Alex Nana-Sinkam, portfolio lead for global equity at IDEO; Nonhlanhla Mokwena, executive director of People Opposing Women Abuse; and Lathika Pai, country head at Microsoft for start-ups.

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U.S. Consulate Cape Town
31 October, 2019

Tackling Gender-Based Violence Through Tech
Every three hours a woman is murdered in South Africa. What’s more, the country has the fourth highest female interpersonal violence death rate in the world. Additionally, South Africa’s rape statistics are amongst the highest globally, with an average of 114 rapes being reported to the police every day.
The theme of gender-based violence will be the focus of the first of four hackathons taking place in Cape Town and Johannesburg over a one-year period as part of an initiative by the US Embassy in South Africa called Hackathons for South Africa: Digital Solutions for Real World Challenges.
The inaugural hackathon will be held in the EY premises at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town from Friday the 22nd to Sunday, the 24th of November 2019. Emerging software developers, IT professionals, trainers, civil society organisations, academics and professionals with expertise relevant to the theme are all invited to attend the event and create innovative digital solutions to the problem of gender-based violence.
During the hackathon, attendees will explore what can be done to make communities safer, investigate how best to respond to threats, and produce tech that could save lives.
The winning team will walk away with R15,000. What’s more, with implementation partner Silicon Cape being an ecosystem enabler for tech-enabled startups, they will be connected with accelerators, mentors and other relevant community members such as developers, angel investors and venture capitalists to help bring their solution to life. Amazon Web Services will also give the winning team access to the low cost, easy-to-use infrastructure needed to scale and grow via the AWS Activate programme which includes benefits like $10,000 worth of AWS Promotional Credits, valid for two years; AWS Business Support valued at $5,000 which is valid for up to one year and a solution architect technical whiteboarding session.
Will Stevens, Deputy Consul General at the U.S. Consulate in Cape Town says: “The scourge of gender-based violence is something that affects our communities here in South Africa as well as the United States, and 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.”
Silicon Cape Chairperson, Dr Sumarie Roodt, adds: “Through these hackathons we hope to bring real solutions to the fore that could help real people to either change their reality or perception for the better. We want to instil hope and would like to upskill all participants with new mental models and frameworks that they could apply to other areas of their working or personal lives. Most importantly, we want to build stronger communities and build a bridge between South Africa and the USA.”
To participate in the hackathon, or for more information, please email


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