MKF to Technify more women in 2016

The Meera Kaul Foundation's All-Women Hackathon 2016 will be themed around Smart Cities for Women.

Dubai: With an aim to unlock the untapped potential of women in the region, and to provide an innovative and exciting platform for women to realize their start-up dreams or their coding potential, the Meera Kaul Foundation has announced the 2nd edition of its Women in Stem Hackathon. To be held on February 19th and 20th, 2016 at the new, vibrant tech-hub of Dubai, Astrolabs, loacted in JLT, the 2016 All-Women Hackathon will build on the strong foundation created by last year’s event, and will focus on “Smart Cities for Women,” challenging participants to develop applications that present innovative solutions for women in smart cities.

Conducted several times a year, in locations across the globe, the WiSTEM Hackathons offer tremendous opportunities to women entrepreneurs aspiring to turn their ideas into innovative, sustainable businesses. At this event, women meet other like-minded peers, angel investors, and support organizations that help empower them, create opportunities for them and help them form networks that will endure for a lifetime.

Commenting on the forthcoming event, Meera Kaul, Global Chair and Founder of the Meera Kaul Foundation, said, “By investing in this hackathon, we aim to provide a platform to encourage more women to opt for STEM careers. We look forward to uniting inspiring talent from all over the region under one roof, learning from their collective pool of experiences and creating something useful in the bargain.”

The whole premise of hackathons is innovation – inventing a simple, smart, efficient and unique way to solve an existing problem, by creatively using technology. The 2016 edition will be supported by equally ground-breaking partners like Astrolabs and Arab Women in Computing, and other technology giants who believe in impacting lives through the innovative use of science and empowering women to join STEM fields.

Talking about their partnership, AstroLabs Dubai, Hackathon 2016 venue sponsors, said “We are excited to be a part of the All Women WiSTEM Hackathon this year. Together we need to highlight more women role models, women entrepreneurs and women in executive positions. People need to hear success stories and achievements by women in tech to believe that we can do it and we can do it right.”

AstroLabs is the region’s premier co-working space for digital technology startups, tapping into the exploding startup community in the UAE and providing a collaborative platform for growth and success.

He further added, “The region compared to other parts of the world has more women in tech start-ups participating as a percentage based on the programs we’ve seen, even in comparison to Silicon Valley. In this scenario, our main endeavor, being the only Google Partnered Tech Hub in the MENA region, is to provide a vibrant space for like-minded tech enthusiasts and a community network of support through our mentorship program. And this is where we feel our synergy lies with the Foundations Women in Stem objectives”

Registrations for the Hackathon started from January 5th 2016, either as individuals or as teams. On-site team formation is also encouraged to allow participants to meet new people and collaborate with those who may have different skills sets. Winners will receive incubation support as well as mentorship opportunities facilitated by The Meera Kaul Foundation, along with other exciting prizes. The aim is to bring together wannabe women tech-entrepreneurs and innovators from across the MENA region, to hack in 48 hours in an exciting race to the finish line. For more information please visit, Hackathon Womeninstem Dubai.

Leanne D’souza, last year’s participant, & winner of the Hackathon excitedly commented on this years event, “Since my participation with the 2015 WiStem Hackathon by the Meera Kaul Foundation, which happened to be my first Hackathon, I have been highly motivated & inspired to further be a part of similar platforms. The WiSTEM Hackathon gave me the confidence to participate in more such events, either as a Developer or a Designer and win several prizes.”

Over the years, it is heartening to note that the region has witnessed a surge in the number of women, like Leanne, who have an interest in computing and technology. While the number of undergraduate women pursuing some STEM subjects like biology and chemistry has steadily increased, their participation in computer science has been declining. “Despite resources devoted to encouraging women to enter computer-related fields, college-level computer science education continues to be an isolating, and at times, demoralizing experience for many of the country’s top female students. But this is slowly changing and Hackathons provide the perfect platform and environment to enable this change. Considering how they are fast emerging as a fascinating nerve-center of state-of-the-art, hi-tech ideas and technology, its helping further persuade women to join technology domains by offering them a synergic platform for ideation and coding”, adds Meera, Chairperson MKF.


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