Be Tech. Be Innovative. Be Bold.
03 Mar 2017 by Eleonora Gatti iWomen App Coordinator
Across Myanmar, technology is transforming the way people communicate, consume and distribute information and engage with their leaders. But it has not been an easy road. Just four years ago, the cost of a sim card could reach up to 3,000USD – making it all but impossible for the general population to access mobile technology.
However, in recent years, advances in mobile tech have made it more affordable for the general population to gain access to mobile phones and other technology. Today, a sim card costs roughly 1USD, internet penetration has increased by nearly 6,000 per cent across the country, while mobile phone ownership has skyrocketed to more than 500 per cent.
That brings us to today, with more smart phones in the hands of rural women, they are craving access to information and UNDP has positioned itself to support.
In June 2015, we invited rural women to the UNDP Myanmar office to participate in the ‘’Human Centred Design’’ workshop. More than 30 rural women leaders, representing various women’s groups, made the trip to Yangon from eight different states and regions across the country. The goal of the workshop was simple, find a way to deliver information and connectivity to the thousands of rural women.
Welcome to the Myanmar Mobile Revolution!
Working in development, it’s very rare for us to see the impact of our work. Often, it takes a generation for policies or changes in attitudes to fully take root. But the mobile revolution has been different. I’ve witnessed communities transform before my very eyes.
I will never forget our Human Centred Design workshop. The entire event was an explosion of ideas, laughter and creativity on how to tackle challenges that these women face every day. The workshop gave them the space to become inspired, connected and knowledgeable leaders.
As a result of the workshop, the participants aspired to create a mobile app, as it seemed the best suited solution to harness the fast-paced Myanmar mobile revolution. Almost as fast paced as the tech revolution itself, a group of passionate young Myanmar tech women and rural women leaders co-developed the first prototype of the app. Bit by bit, discussion after discussion, brainstorming session after brainstorm session, the rural women and the tech women made it all happen and the iWomen Inspiring Women App with its five functions was born: Be Inspired! Be Knowledgeable! Ready to Play! Be Together! Talk Together!
In one year, 20 versions of the app have been developed, more than 8,000 rural women leaders have become active users, more than 3,500 rural women have been trained on the app and on how to use a smart phone by a growing network of hundreds of committed young tech volunteers.
To date, more than 500 stories and poems have been shared through the iWomen Inspiring Women App, as well as reliable information resources on legal rights, market prices, life-saving disaster response steps and much, much more are readily available.
As the mobile revolution continues to transform Myanmar, UNDP remains committed to bringing innovative solutions for the country’s development.
iWomen App is available for download on the Google Store.