UWC students create Sistahood Watch app

Female students from the University of the Western Cape have developed an app to keep their peers safe on campus

Four UWC BCom Information Sciences female students, Yandisa Citwa, Noluthando Ntshaba, Janine Anthony and Sibabalwe Kweza, started a networked called The Sistahood and developed an app called Sistahood Watch. The app development was based on the group winning the Women Matter(s) Hackathon.

Dr Mmaki Jantjies, Head of Department of Information Systems, at the university says that the idea behind the Hackathon is that in celebrating Women’s Month, they wanted to get high school girls excited about a career in technology while getting the community talking about innovative technology solutions to women-related issues.

She tells DESTINY: “On the 19th of August, we ran a ‘bring a girl child to ICT related work’ fun day, where we invited girls from township schools to come and learn about the life of a women in tech. On this day, over 100 girls learnt how to create websites, programme robots and got to hear industry employees talk about their life in the world of technology. On the 20th to 21st of August, we ran a Hackathon open to the public, which was aimed at identifying innovative solutions on issues affecting women. Teams of men and women spent the two days, brainstorming, prototyping and pitching their ideas.”

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According to the ladies from The Sistahood network, the aim of the app is to address safety and health challenges that female students battle with in the UWC campus community, while at the same time creating awareness about ICT career and business opportunities for women.

According to The Sistahood network, two recent rape cases have been reported as well as numerous crime cases that took place around private accommodations off-campus in Belhar, just over the Unibell train station where many female students reside.

“These are challenges that some us have personally experienced, so the passion behind this idea was fuelled by the reality of how we have personally experienced these issues. We put our minds together and the Sistahood Watch app was born.”

How it works:

The app has a login and sign-up page, and on this page is an SOS button that will be linked to CPS campus security. It connects to GPS using data, Wi-Fi and airtime. The Sistahood makers say they plan on giving the CPS campus security a device that will be linked directly to this app, alerting them to emergencies whenever one of the users tap the SOS button.

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On the app homepage, they have installed tabs that lead multiple channels, for example a ‘Help A Sista Out’ icon tab that leads to a donations corner, where, if any woman needs an essential item like sanitary pads or food, she can reach out to the other users or to an admin person anonymously, then the users or their funder would donate those essentials to her. Another tab is ‘Sistahood Rocks ICT Network’ where they upload information about the latest trends, articles and tech devices to keep each other updated about the ICT sector and opportunities.

Some of the other tabs include:
– Safety Net
– Speak Out
– #WomenInCharge
– Whatsapp Call

Jantjies says that the Sistahood Watch stood out from the other apps in that the team was able to consolidate existing social media platforms into one app, while adding new elements that addressed “pertinent female student issues such as female safety on campus, and providing platforms for female students to ask for help with things such as advice or just sanitary towels in the forum option of their application”.

Photographer: Nicklaus Kruger, UWC Media Office