EmpowerHack introduction: coding for refugee women

EmpowerHack is a coding collective that supports female refugees through sustainable design. It was created in 2015 and began with one weekend-long hackathon.

Within months, it grew to global community comprised of hundreds of skilled volunteers — including health advisors, community specialists, interaction designers, developers, entrepreneurs and NGOs, all working together towards a common goal.

They’re doing amazing things for the international humanitarian effort by using technology to address problems and improve lives.

Helping refugee women

The problems faced by refugee women around the world can seem insurmountable to those who want to help, but don’t know where to start. Women’s problems often remain invisible, although 80% of refugees are women.

EmpowerHack’s work addresses key issues for female refugees, including emotional well-being, pregnancy and dealing with violence.

Here are some ideas that have come out of their hackathons.

Hababy - pregnancy app

This is a web app built to help refugee women with their pregnancy. Being pregnant can be stressful at the best of times, but being a refugee means it is more difficult to access the appropriate medical care. The app will deal with prenatal, natal, and postnatal care and have the ability to link women with professional help.

Herstory - storytelling app

Women and girls can contribute ideas, thoughts and solutions to current gender-based violence issues within a refugee context by using Herstory. It is a collaborative, digital storytelling platform, and the aim is to create a space for refugee women to share their stories using audio and build a platform for support, enabling expressive participation and information-sharing around sensitive issues.

E/motion - wellbeing app

E/motion is a mobile app that creates a safe space for refugee women to express themselves emotionally, while enabling them to connect with and support each other anonymously. It fosters emotional wellbeing by balancing the need for security, great service delivery and anonymity.

The app invites refugee women to share their feelings on a day-to-day basis. Their responses are recorded as coloured elements on a visual map and combined with the emotions of other women who are also part of the communities using the app. Women are invited to explore the emotional landscape of the map, or they can choose to chat with one other woman whom they feel a connection with.

Collaborating with technology

EmpowerHack enables its participants to use technology in a positive way, and connects those who want to help with those who need help.

EmpowerHack partners with NGOs already working in the refugee aid ecosystem to help them accelerate their own projects. Organisations can also get on board by donating resources and skills to help with events and projects.

They run hackathons to come up with technological solutions that are open to all. These events are a great way for people looking to break into the technology industry to learn some skills, and for established professionals to give back by sharing their skills and expertise.


Many more apps came out of their hackathons, and you can find out more about them on the EmpowerHack GitHub.

By creating these software initiatives to support refugee women, EmpowerHack will empower women all over the globe.

Written by...

Catherine Heath

​She has a thing for psychology, diversity, tech and startups​, and is l​earning to code. She gives valuable insight into the women in tech scene on her website, Away With Words, and shares tips for success and self-development. Connect with Catherine on Twitter or LinkedIn.