Four female Belgium Campus iTversity students developed an app to combat gender-based violence during this year’s 7th annual GirlCode hackathon. The hackathon, which took place online from 31 July to 2 August, challenged participants to use technology as an enabler to solve the UN Sustainable Development Goals within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Second-year BComp student, Nosimphiwe Mbenge, explains why her team chose to enter the hackathon and why they focussed on gender-based violence. “GirlCode hackathon spoke to us because of the company’s aim to empower women through technology, which is also something we want to achieve. Gender-based violence is a serious issue, especially in South Africa, so we chose to focus on developing an app that would help in the fight against it.”
The team was able to incorporate what they had learned during their modules at Belgium Campus to develop a web based app in C#. The hackathon also provided them with an opportunity to gain hands-on experience and identify any gaps in their knowledge. “We walked into the hackathon feeling very confident in our programming knowledge but as the hackathon progressed, we realised that our knowledge was only the tip of the iceberg. Funnily enough, we have just started 2nd year programming and are now learning everything we tried to learn from scratch,” Ms Mbenge said with a laugh.
The hackathon also provided a space where aspiring female IT professionals could come together for a common cause. “The IT field can sometimes feel like a lonely place for women and events like this provide a much needed opportunity for solidarity,” Ms Mbenge shared. With 7 out of a total of 23 solutions specially targeted at gender-based violence, it is clear that the female youth are taking their futures into their own hands.
The team of second-year students have just begun MTN’s 6-week online coding programme, The MTN Business App Academy. They are hoping to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to further develop their solution into an Android app using Java. Their app will then be entered into MTN’s annual App of the Year Awards under the Best Youth App category. “Because we created our app in C# on Visual Studio, it is limited to laptop use. Our goal is to give women the convenience of safety in their pocket and an Android app is the best way to achieve this,” Ms Mbenge concluded.
Hackathons push the boundaries of innovation by encouraging participants to use the latest devices and technology to develop new and exciting solutions to the world’s challenges. They provide an environment of knowledge sharing where participants can learn new technical skills and improve their soft skills. At Belgium Campus we strive to expose our students to various opportunities and competitions that help them grown in their field and as individuals. We are proud of our students for taking the initiative to participate in events that make a positive change in the world.