South Africa youth tap into gender app

A phone application addressing gender violence is proving a hit with thousands of South African teenagers.

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    A gender violence game doesn't exactly scream fun, but it's proving a hit with thousands of South African teenagers.

    It's a generation hungry for new knowledge - knowledge many in the western world simply take for granted.

    It's revealing that despite 25 years at the United Nations Development Programme it wasn't until Anne Shongwe, the app's developer, actually started asking young African's about their perceptions of the opposite sex and how they coped in a sexual relationship that she realised education was the key.

    Shongwe left the UNDP determined to break free of its bureaucracy and forge her own path by addressing gender based violence among young people.

    But it was a big challenge to go from a good salary, with lots of support, to a start-up. Especially, as she freely admits, she's not that technically minded.

    But she hired people with the right skills and a few years later she's an award winner.

    After winning the AppCircus 2011 competition in South Africa with Moraba, Shongwe was selected as one of the top 20 finalists to pitch her app to a live audience at the Mobile Premier Awards in Barcelona, Spain.

    She did so alongside Ghanaian app developer Robert Lamptey of Saya and Ugandan app developer Christine Ampaire of Mafuta Go!

    They were the first African app developers to pitch at the awards. Ampaire's Mafuta Go! won the Ringmaster's Award. Her app, inspired by Uganda's petrol crisis, lets users find the nearest petrol station with the cheapest prices.

    Shongwe and her team at Afroes have a major challenge looming. She's returning to her native Kenya to develop an app to prevent young people from being manipulated into causing trouble at next year's elections.

    The last ballot was marred by violence and she says it's believed a lot of the trouble makers were youths who'd been paid off or talked into taking to the streets.

    So, the app is meant to educate them so they can identify when someone's trying to use them for their own gain.


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