StartEgypt, the National Council for Women (NCW), and UN Women have announced the launch of the “Fighting Violence Against Women Using Technology” hackathon on social media platforms.
The hackathon, which will be virtually held in March, is organised by StartEgypt and powered by Flat6Labs in collaboration with the NCW and UN Women Egypt, recognising the significant role that entrepreneurship plays in providing innovative solutions to address societal issues.
It is a digital competition that targets young male and female entrepreneurs that offer digital solutions that could help society in facing various forms of violence against women and girls, whether virtual (cyber harassment, extortion, etc.) or in public and private places (sexual harassment, domestic violence, female genital mutilation, etc.).
The hackathon challenge includes three key tracks, which are fighting cybercrimes against women using technology, combating forms of violence against women in the public sphere, and digitisation of complaints regarding violence against women and tracking them with relevant government authorities.
Three teams will be selected to win cash prizes from a total of EGP 20,000. Additionally, the winning teams will be hosted in the business incubator of the StartEgypt program to receive the appropriate training and guidance to develop their projects.
Maya Morsy, President of the NCW, said that addressing violence against women in all its forms is a crucial necessity and is considered a serious societal issue which harms women and girls, as well as their families and communities.
“All means and tools must be utilised to confront violence against women and pursue practical solutions to face it, while addressing the root causes. Technological advancement is a double-edged tool. Despite its role in creating new forms of violence against women, it has also become one of the most important tools that we can use positively and effectively to address this issue that has become a major concern for society,” Morsy added.
Morsy also expounded that launching this hackathon is an endeavor to pursue creative and innovative ideas that are in line with the times and challenges imposed on the community and contribute to working towards a society free from violence against women.
Christine Arab, UN Women’s representative in Egypt, said that such an action represents the consolidated efforts of the government, the business sector, and the UN in providing opportunities for entrepreneurs to solve societal problems using technology.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has imposed a new reality on us which requires finding innovative solutions using technological means to address violence against women in the public and virtual spheres. We also seek to use economic empowerment programs, especially the component on entrepreneurship, to build distinct partnerships aimed at empowering women on all levels. Greater economic autonomy for women results in their greater voice and leadership in the home and in public life”, Arab illustrated.
She added that the joint programme between UN Women and UNIDO — implemented in partnership with the NCW and the Ministry of Trade and Industry with the support of the Government of Canada — will continue to provide an opportunity for innovative ideas that solve societal problems through entrepreneurship.
On his side, Hassan Mansi, the program director of StartEgypt, noted that Egyptian women are not only one half of society, but also Egyptian women entrepreneurs have proven an unprecedented ability to succeed and compete at various levels.
“At Flat6Labs, we are proud not only of the nearly 40 percent participation of female entrepreneurs in our various programs, but also proud of the graduates who have been able to make a qualitative impact in their field, whether graduates of the StartEgypt business incubator, such as Salma Medhat, the founder of ‘Matkhafeesh’, an online application to fight harassment,” Mansi clarified.
“We are also proud of Flat6Labs business accelerator graduates, such as Doaa Aref, who through her online application ‘Shifa’ was able to provide a unique service to deliver medicine to patients with chronic diseases in Egypt, and attract investors to grow her business and help in her journey towards excellence.”
The StartEgypt program is supported by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development and the International Finance Corporation — a World Bank member — and managed by Flat6Labs.