Hackathon Aims to Address “Violence Against Women”

Hackathon Aims to Address “Violence Against Women”

Working with Google Developer Group, The Asia Foundation co-organized the Google Developer Festival (DevFest) in Phnom Penh on October 28th and 29th. The festival, which takes place annually, featured various breakout sessions on the latest technology to students and professionals who are interested in technology and a hackathon competition under the theme “Ending Violence Against Women”.

Mr. Silas Everett, Country Representative of The Asia Foundation in Cambodia, gave an opening remark at DevFest 2016. Photo Credit: Google Developer Group
Mr. Seila Sar, Research Officer at the Asia Foundatin in Cambodia, gave a presentation on the Portray of Violence Against Women in Cambodian TVs during one of the breakout sessions

Tucked away in one room that was separate from all the breakout sessions were IT students and young professionals working on an innovative solution to address a pressing concern in Cambodia’s society today- violence against women.Instead of attending breakout sessions, these young techies worked on a mobile app idea in hopes  “Ending Violence Against Women”. They did not have all the answers, but there were gender and tech experts ready to assist them when they needed help. In less than 48 hours, they were expected to produce a working app to present to a panel of judges consisting of leaders in tech and gender issues.

Participants of the hackathon arrived in the early morning to receive a training on design sprint by Yohan Totting, Developer Outreach Lead for The Asia Foundation and Google Developer Expert for Web.
Some of the faces of the DevFest “hackers”.

Prior to the hackathon day, the teams were also trained in design thinking, a process of developing mobile apps that is also documented in the VXW App Toolkit. The teams were made aware of the existing apps that tackle the issue of violence against women as listed in the App Inventory. Some of their original ideas had changed/been refined after consulting with their mentors. By the second day of the hackathon, the teams had formed concrete ideas and plan, and they were facilitated by professionals with relevant experience in gender issues and app development. They had one more task at hand- preparing for their presentation which would determine the winners of the hackathon.

Judges of DevFest 2016 Hackathon. Photo Credit: Google Developer Group

There were a lot of ideas focusing on various aspects of the issue such as security, consultation, knowledge distribution, and behavioral change. At the end, three winning teams were announced. Each has a distinctive idea and they were evaluated based on impact, technical feasibility, originality, design, and the presentation. The three apps that brought home the prize were:

1. Saffy: an app that helps prevent violence in the family by creating a reporting tool to nearby authorities by the Internet or through an sms if the Internet is not available at that time.
2. Women Assistant: an app that acts as a personal assistant to women who wants to get advice, legal documents, and a social platform in which women can share advice and experiences anonymously.
3. Change: a gaming app that creates aims at behavioral change.For example, a wife can challenge her husband to certain tasks such as not drinking or helping with dishes. The more tasks he completes, the more points the husband will get. He can also compete among other husband/boyfriends to get the “Best Man” title.