Team Port Vila International School (PVIS), the youngest team which participated in the event was declared the Hackathon Champions and awarded VT100, 000 at the Pitching event held on Wednesday.
The competition featured five teams vying for the top prize and the jury for the event consisted of women recognised for their contributions towards promoting gender equality in Vanuatu: Member of Parliament and Co-owner of The Kava House Vanuatu, Julia King; Programming Director for World Vision Vanuatu’s Ending Violence Portfolio, Shanna Ligo; Country Director for the United Nations Capital Development Fund, Mary Hays; and Editor of the Vanuatu Daily Post, Jane Joshua.
The PVIS Team’s focus is on providing healthcare and reproductive health services to address the issues surrounding these areas in Vanuatu.
These health issues mainly affect women in Vanuatu, including poverty, domestic violence, crime, unsafe abortions, teenage pregnancies, lack of education resulting in healthcare complications, and even death. The root causes of these issues include stigmas surrounding culture and opinions that are passed down through generations, inadequate government funding and resources, lack of sex and reproductive health education in schools, lack of mental health services, and lack of gender diversity in parliament.
To address the underlying issue of lack of awareness around women’s health and reproductive health, they planned to create the Vanuatu Health Hub concept. This information website aims to provide resources for all Ni Vanuatu, particularly women, on sexual and reproductive health.
The website will provide citizens with access to reliable and medically accurate information that is vital to making informed decisions for themselves and their bodies. The Vanuatu Health Hub will provide information in complete and non-anonymity, making it easily accessible for those who do not have access to a doctor or may feel too embarrassed to seek help.
The website will offer trusted Vanuatu-based information in different languages, including contact information for officials. The Hub will also contain a feature for users to ask questions and receive automated responses using AI software.
During the announcement of the winner, the judges congratulated Team PVIS and acknowledged the practical accessibility and innovation of their solution. Making healthcare services accessible is a top priority for everyone, and it is crucial to note that women are stigmatized but still require access to health services.
Team Care aims to combat domestic violence against women through the development of a technology-based solution. They have identified audio and visual technology as powerful tools to disseminate information on domestic violence prevention and response. To enhance their messaging, they plan to create 3-5 minute videos and audios addressing domestic violence issues and produce picture stories on prevention measures.
To centralise their production and visual methods, the team plans to create a new Facebook page called “Tugeta Yumi Mekem Jenis.” They plan to use various radio outlets, including Radio Vanuatu, which has 80% coverage, as well as tap into existing networks and content creators such as Mifala Nomo or Tai Kalz, VBTC, and Wan Smol Bag. This is a charitable project.
Unlike other organizations that promote their own causes, “Tugeta Yumi Mekem Jenis” is dedicated to advocating for domestic violence prevention. The page will feature male champions who share their experiences addressing domestic violence and organise social media competitions. The team also plans to involve musicians as public figures to advocate for this issue. The Facebook page will serve as an educational platform for the community.
The Carpe Diem Team aims to tackle women’s insecurities while using public transport and being in public spaces. They have observed various incidents, including a recent assault on a mother who subsequently passed away. The causes of these incidents include a lack of government ownership of public transport, inadequate screening of bus drivers, and a shortage of female drivers. Moreover, there are no fixed routes or safe areas in public spaces, which leads to a lack of accountability and an increase in teenage pregnancies.
To achieve their goal, the team plans to implement a three-phase initiative over a period of 3 to 4 years. In the first phase, they will introduce Koroi buses, which are purple buses exclusively for women, girls, and children. These buses will have video cameras installed, operate on a cash basis, and raise awareness among communities where they operate.
Phase two involves the implementation of safety and security programs for women, and in phase three, the team plans to establish a community center for women, providing a safe space for mothers and girls. Overall, the Carpe Diem team is committed to addressing behavioral change and creating a safer environment for women and children.
The University of the South Pacific (USP) Team is addressing empowering Women for Leadership Roles.
The main objective is to ensure equal opportunities for women’s full and effective participation in leadership roles at all levels of decision-making. It was noted that women in Vanuatu are still underrepresented in leadership positions, but progress has been made in the past decade. This includes having women in Chief Executive Officer, Director General, Director, and other senior positions in both the government and private sectors. They also celebrated the achievement of Mrs. Gloria Julia King, the current and only woman in Parliament, and the youngest female councilor elected in the Port Vila City Council, Ms. Melanie Shem.
The team highlighted the importance of a feminist approach where not only women but also men support and ensure equal voices are heard. They emphasised the need for transformative leadership and cooperation between men and women to achieve development in the country. Leadership training in schools is also crucial to achieving this goal.
Although culture, lack of mentoring and support, and religion pose challenges to increasing the number of women leaders in higher positions, the team is determined to make a change. They plan to establish the Nabanga Hub, a safe space where women can share their views and have their voices heard. The hub will provide programs, including leadership training in schools, and introduce a talk show called “Passing the Mic.”
The Vanuatu Broadcasting and Television Corporation (VBTC) Team believes that gender equality is a fundamental human right and essential for the development of fair and thriving communities. Technology can play a crucial role in promoting gender equality and providing opportunities, particularly for women. Unfortunately, many individuals lack access to education and technology, hindering their success in business.
In Vanuatu, one of the main challenges facing women and girls is the lack of access to technology devices such as smartphones, computers, and the internet, resulting in a lack of basic skills to access digital devices. To address this issue, VBTC aims to increase digital technology in communities and provide training and support, beginning at the grassroots level.
VBTC believes that promoting gender equality through technology requires increasing Internet access in communities and promoting the use of mobile devices, which can provide training and important services for job opportunities and education. Access to education and job opportunities is critical for women to become successful entrepreneurs through technology.
VBTC has identified three main challenges limiting women’s access: the location of institutions offering training, course fees, and a lack of appropriate platforms for promoting awareness within communities. To achieve economic development, VBTC targets young girls to old women, including people with disabilities, and aims to improve access to education, job opportunities, and assist with the growth of their businesses.
To achieve this, VBTC believes that creating a digital platform to support women in becoming successful entrepreneurs is key. This platform could provide a space for women to connect, share ideas, build their networking, and create a positive mindset. VBTC has developed an app called the Mind Meld, offering courses and free life skills training with just one click to help build skills, promote and sell products and services through this online platform.
During the pitching event, members of the judging panel congratulated the teams and acknowledged their outstanding solutions. They highlighted the practical accessibility, boldness, and innovation of the Vanuatu Health Hub and the effectiveness of Together Yumi Mekem Jenis in advocating for domestic violence. They praised Team Carpe Diem’s efforts to address women’s insecurities in transport and public spaces and applauded Team USP’s focus on empowering women in leadership roles.
Overall, the Hackathon was a resounding success and demonstrated the creativity, innovation, and dedication of the participants to tackle pressing issues facing women in Vanuatu.
SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST