EU BiH – IT Girls hackathon #CodeLikeITGirl: 80 girls from across BiH present their ideas for some of the biggest problems in the country

Four young women from Sarajevo, Tuzla, Zivinice and Hadzici won the 2-day hackathon #CodeLikeITGirls held in Sarajevo on October 18-19. The hackathon organised by the IT Girls in partnership with the European Union in BiH brought together 18 teams – 83 girls from 22 local communities – competing for the best prototype of a digital solution to some of the global challenges or problems in BiH.

The winning team “Smart Buddy” presented an innovative digital platform, facilitating the study process and promoting the peer tutoring. “Hackathon has really had such a powerful impact on us. We enjoyed and worked really hard on our code, using some of the newest tools to create a mobile application. We are delighted that our idea was recognized as the best, especially since there were so many excellent projects,” stated one of the team members, Lejla Omerovic. In addition to the professional help and mentorship in developing their prototype, the Smart Buddy will also have an opportunity to further present their idea at the European Youth Awards 2020.

Hackathon was held during the EU Code Week (October 5-20) to promote digital literacy, but also to raise awareness of the gender gap in the information and technology sector worldwide. According to the latest surveys, women make up less than a quarter of entire workforce in the IT sector in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“When I see all of you gathered today here in such a large number, I am clear that the change is already happening. I want you to be decisive, to speak up and say that the world is all yours; you know that you can do anything you want and nobody should limit you in anything because you are girls. Be active not just here for the Hackathon and in what you do, but also in your society and your communities,” Deputy Head of the EU Delegation in BiH, Khaldoun Sinno, told the participants at the event launch.

IT Girl is the joint initiative of three UN agencies in Bosnia and Herzegovina– UNDP, UN Women and UNICEF – aiming to empower girls and young women with digital skills, focusing on increasing their participation in the IT related education and labour market.

“This was the first ever all-female hackathon held in BiH, with participants from over 20 local communities. In these two days, we have seen that girls in our country are eager to gain new knowledge on digital technologies. They are also facing similar problems in their communities, regardless where they come from, but they also have innovative ideas for solutions. We will keep working to ensure that this digital revolution of girls and young women continue in the future,” stressed the IT Girls project coordinator, Tanja Madzarevic.

After 36 hours of work, girls presented their solutions on education, public transportation, energy consumption, pollution, school violence and many other pressing issues. The jury also selected three additional teams with innovative ideas planned to receive further support of the IT Girls in developing their applications, hardware and web sites.