Women’s Habitat was honoured to be one of six charities chosen as the recipients of the Gift the Code Hackathon a three day long event to provide Toronto non-profits with technology solutions sponsored by Capital One. In just 40 hours, over 100 participants passionate about problem solving brainstormed, built and submitted solutions to our digital challenges and we couldn’t be more grateful. These genius hackers developed some incredible ideas including a confidential, online interface designed to allow us to chat with women in need of support, new ways for women to remain anonymous when accessing our website and ways of ensuring all of our donate and sign up options are smart phone friendly.
In our sector, we often discuss the downfalls of technology. Cyber stalking, revenge porn and GPS tracking have turned tech into the tool of the abuser and have made it increasingly difficult to keep women and children safe. This weekend our eyes were opened to a new way of using technology to our advantage. It was an empowering experience. “The impact these solutions will have on our organization are huge” said our Resource Systems Manager, Lina Almanzan “it was incredible to work with these brilliant men and women and think outside the box and achieve a common goal.”
At Women’s Habitat we constantly struggle with being able to respond to the overwhelming need. Last year we receive 1,100 calls through our crisis line from women and children desperate for shelter. We were forced to turn away 650 families due to lack of space. At our Outreach Centre, we served 591 women, provided 1,967 hours of one-on-one counselling and secured safe affordable housing for 83 families. The need never ends and our ability to grow our capacity is often limited by our funding. Technology can provide innovative solutions to increase capacity without a huge increase in budget.
When a woman is struggling with the decision to leave abuse she needs information she can trust, she needs it quickly and she needs it safely. When we are able to use technology to meet those needs for her it could mean the difference between life and death.
On behalf of all of us at Women’s Habitat thank you hackers and everyone at Capital One! It was a weekend we won’t soon forget and we look forward to turning these amazing ideas into reality.