India’s ‘Hackathon for Humanity’

A three-day conference designed to bring the interests of women in technology to the forefront of the tech world, the Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) of Women in Computing is the only of its kind in India. The Conference is composed of keynote sessions, presentations on technology and professional development, a career fair, the Women Entrepreneur Quest, and Grace Hopper Celebration’s crowning glory – the Hackathon.

This year’s Hackathon, held last week in Bangalore, India, brought in around 120 women to code on open-source platforms for three humanitarian causes. In its fourth year of operation, the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing India was themed “Together We Rise,” to symbolize the collaboration of women from various sectors of the technology industry and their power to create a large network of technology-minded women.

The developers at this year’s Hackathon participated in projects in the fields of financial inclusion, mapping and health. Within the subject of financial inclusion, the women coded for Mifos, a free and open-source platform that enables financial service providers to more effectively deliver their services to the world’s poor. Mifos services microfinance institutions in managing funds, loans, installments, savings, deposits and other accounting reports. By coding at the Hackathon, the women helped to develop the platform and more efficiently manage Mifos’ data.

The second project built onto the framework of the Bachchao Project, an organization aimed at creating open technology tools to ensure user safety. The first of a larger set of technologies to keep women safe, the Bachchao app was first prototyped at the 2012 GHC Hackathon to transform mobile phones into personal security systems. This year, the women at the Hackathon helped to develop a custom crowdsourced map that alerts the user of safe and unsafe areas and displays local locations such as police stations, hotels and NGOs.

The final project worked on by GHC’s developers was a clinical reminder system that allows people to receive alerts about medications, medical tests, immunizations and examinations. This was designed to give people, especially women, greater control of and awareness about their own health.

In the shadow of the male-dominated technology industry, women are working against all odds to establish themselves as strong contenders in the growing field of IT.

– Tara Young

Sources: Mashable, Grace Hopper, The Hindu, The Bachchao Project