By 27 October 2020 | Categories: news


Yesterday Microsoft South Africa revealed the winners of the Safe@Home Hackathon to address gender-based violence in South Africa. The winners, Combat against GBV, developed a fit-for-purpose, technology-based solution designed to protect vulnerable women and children and give them a safer way to reach out for help.

Gender-based violence is one of South Africa’s most serious and pervasive challenges, with over 40% of South African women experiencing sexual and/or physical interpersonal violence in their lifetime. 

Initiatives to curb this shadow pandemic and escalating levels of violence against women and children are critical, and require collective collaboration and partnerships between government, corporate South Africa, civil society including NGOs in the gender-based violence space, developers and other technology players.  

Microsoft explained that technology’s ability to enable a better way to reach out for help is increasingly under the spotlight – and the Safe@Home Hackathon aims to open up access to this kind of life-saving technology. It is replicating the successful initiative piloted by Microsoft Israel in partnership with the "Michal Sela Forum” – headed by the sister of a victim of gender-based violence – and the country’s developer community to create and develop technology-based solutions to help victims of gender-based violence.  

Naomi Bisimwa, one of the members of the winning team – Combat against GBV.

“The South African hackathon, which has run since August, has been incredibly successful and we have seen a wealth of creative and sustainable ideas from our developer teams who have grappled with the unique issues and challenges surrounding gender-based violence in South Africa,” commented Lillian Barnard, Managing Director of Microsoft South Africa. “The winning solution takes these into account and is a solution that the judges agreed would effectively be able to help South Africa’s most vulnerable and at-risk,” she explained.  

This was based on the solution meeting the four main criteria of feasibility, creativity, quality of prototype, and desirability. These covered the business model behind the product, its user-friendliness, innovation, and the way it helps the end user, among others. 

The winning solution will now be developed into a full application to be owned and used by the campaign’s NGO partners: 1000 Women and TEARS Foundation.  “Technology plays a big role in assisting women and children instantly, and it is vital that these technology-based solutions are accessible to the people who need it and when they need it most to make a difference. Using technology to prevent more violence, abuse and deaths is definitely a step in the right direction,” commented Mara Glennie, founder and director at TEARS Foundation. 

“Technology provides numerous opportunities to help keep women and children ‘safe@home’, and I’m looking forward to exploring these possibilities with the winning solution as well as working together with Microsoft and our other partners to continue tackling gender-based violence in South Africa,” concluded Tina Thiart, founder of 1000 Women.  

The Safe@Home Hackathon winners were:

Combat against GBV in first place - an educational and interactive solution made to educate women and children on GBV, how to take action, find and ask for help.

iWitness in second place – the solution empowers victims to capture details of GBV crimes and removes a lack of evidence as a barrier to accessing justice.

Report Matters in third place – the solution is a web app designed to make it easy and safe for sexual crime victims to report incidents.

For more information, you can visit


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