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UNFPA, Regional Development Public Union organize 1st Gender Equality Hackathon in Azerbaijan, with the support from the European Union

The first-ever “Gender Equality” hackathon took place in Azerbaijan on February 19-21st 2021, with the support of the European Union and under the organization of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), State Committee for Family, Women and Children Affairs, Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies and “Regional Development” Public Union.

The hackathon, bringing together 64  technology enthusiasts within 16 teams from capital Baku and the regions, was held within the framework “EU 4 Gender Equality: Together Against Gender Stereotypes and Gender-Based Violence” programme, funded by the European Union and implemented jointly by UN Women and UNFPA.

The opening ceremony of the hackathon was attended by chairperson of the State Committee for Family, Women and Children (SCWFCA) Affairs Bahar Muradova, head of the country office of the UNFPA in Azerbaijan Farid Babayev, deputy minister of Transport, Communications and High Technologies Elmir Velizade and the participants of the hackathon teams.The event, organized online, was broadcasted live via Facebook.

The event was opened by the SCWFCA chairperson Bahar Muradova who mentioned that gender-based discrimination, starting from the family, threatens the equal participation and representation of men and women in government and society at the highest levels and the fight against gender-based violence necessitates finding new and innovative responce measures. "I believe that the “Gender Equality” hackathon is a clear demonstration of the excellent cooperation between relevant government agencies, international organizations and civil society institutions in this area and it will allow young people, especially students, to compete in this important field and contribute to addressing current challenges", she said.

In his opening speech, Farid Babayev, the head of the UNFPA office in Azerbaijan, noted that life is rapidly digitalizing in the COVID-19 pandemic context and the technology and innovation have never been so relevant in ensuring gender equality and combating gender-based violence. "By better integrating new approaches and finding innovative solutions, it will be possible to address the root causes of gender inequality as well as achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, especially the 5th Goal", he concluded.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Elmir Valizadeh, deputy minister of Transport, Communications and High Technologies, stressed that being held for the first time in the country, the "Gender Equality" hackathon is a good opportunity to demonstrate the potential of young Azerbaijani girls in the field of information and communication technologies. According to him, the stories of businesswomen leading various companies in the field of ICT nowadays can be an encouraging example for the hackathon participants to empower themselves for achieving their goals.

During the 48-hour event, the teams, working intensively on technological solutions to address gender inequalities, developed a variety of prototypes and open source code solutions. Throughout the hackathon, the teams competed in finding solutions to contribute to issues such as combating violence against women, addressing son preference and undervaluing of girls, promoting responsible fatherhood, eliminating gender stereotypes in career choices, and ensuring gender equality in domestic chores.

A total of 16 projects on innovative solutions in the field of gender equality were presented to the jury of the hackathon, and based on the scores given by the jury, the top three teams were identified. The “Stockfish” team won first place with a prototype mobile application that provides shelter and access to relevant resources for women victims of domestic violence. The second place was awarded to the "3x + y" team. "Biz Varıq!" The website allows you to easily connect victims of domestic violence, as well as people with various types of domestic problems with professional psychologists. The third place was awarded to the “Laws and Bytes” team with an interactive educational game on gender stereotypes called “Man vs Woman”.  According to the hackathon rules, the winner teams were awarded with the monetary prizes of 5,000 AZN, 3,000 AZN and 1,000 AZN, respectively.