There are thunderstorms. There is a strike. And there is the hackathon to end gender-based violence in Kathmandu, Nepal—all happening on the same day.
On a rainy Sunday, some participants woke up at 5 a.m. to walk more than 8 miles to get to Trade Tower Business Center, Thapathali—the site of the hackathon.
It’s inspiring and energizing.
Through technology, these resilient, determined youth and volunteers in Kathmandu are tackling deeply rooted problems of a patriarchal society. As someone who grew up in Nepal, I have unfortunately, seen many cases of gender-based violence. One-third of married women have experienced emotional, physical, or sexual violence from their spouse in their marital relationship.
That’s about to change.
Today is the start of something that has never happened before in Nepal. By 9 a.m., there were more than 80 techies and representatives of Civil Society organizations in one hall for the first time to address gender-based violence.
From alert systems to reporting abuse and seeking care, hackers wearing black t-shirts were aggressively working on 17 projects  that will help women. The idea of this hackathon emerged from a similar event that was organized at the end of Jan. 2013 to tackle domestic violence in Central America  and as a result of the exploration of solutions when more than 1,200 youth submitted responses to: “What will it take to end gender-based violence in Nepal” –a question asked by World Bank South Asia . Entries were submitted through text messages, tweets or emails. “This showed us that there is a thirst among youth in South Asia region to engage on the issue of violence and the potential to use technology,” said Luiza Nora, Social Development Specialist of the South Asia region at the World Bank.
Young Innovations , a company that provides solutions in the areas of open development, integrated mobile solutions and web development, helped to organize the hackathon on behalf of the World Bank. Other partners such as the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Computer Association of Nepal (CAN), mobilized professional developers to provide support to the hackathon teams as well a sponsored SMS outreach campaign for the Kathmandu Valley.
As I write this blog post in a corner of a large hall, I see techies glued in front of their computers working to build products that can potentially transform their society in a remarkable way. I can’t help but think about a brighter future for my country because of these youth. Despite lack of proper infrastructure such as uninterrupted electricity and slow internet, these youth seem to make the best out of available resources to help improve their society.
Participants of the hackathon now have three more hours before they have to present their applications combating gender based violence to the jury. Three winning apps will be selected and will be supported to launch a prototype.
I’m excited to see the results. Stay tuned for another blog post. In the meantime, follow the conversation about this hackathon via #genderhacknp, #endgbv on Twitter and watch the event live: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/vawhack .