Myanmar: Inspiring women with mobile app i-Women
Now Comes iWomen
By Thet Thet Win
We are afraid of this tricky world
Don’t dare to go far
With great fear in our heart
Like miserable caged birds
Now comes iWomen
We can share knowledge and wisdom
Go together hand in hand
Bright future as leaders will rise
Daw Thet Thet Win is a woman leader & poet
from Kyaiklatt , Ayeyarwady, Myanmar.
She's one of the very first iWomen app users.
Women in Myanmar are severely underrepresented at all levels of public and political life, and that emerging women leaders in rural areas, in particular, face significant barriers of overcoming restrictive social norms, lack of personal confidence and lack of role models that can help them succeed in taking up new roles of participation and leadership.
How can rural Women build the self-confidence, vision and courage to become Myanmar’s future leaders?
UNDP in Myanmar has already been supporting a cadre of emerging women leaders of village-based women’s associations across the country with a series of training and institutional capacity development activities. Meanwhile, democratic space as well as telecomm channels have been rapidly opening in Myanmar.
To build on the traditional programmes and existing network, and to leverage innovative technology and local talents, the answer is: iWomen Inspiring Women, a mobile app to inspire women in Myanmar.
iWomen App inspired a tailor to start fashion business. (Photo: Win Mar Khine/UNDP)
How iWomen works: Inspiration Plus Action
iWomen Inspiring Women App aims to solve the problem whereby rural Myanmar women do not have enough access to knowledge resources, contacts, networks and mentors that fosters their economic empowerment and social standing in the community. iWomen app seeks to inspire, foster self-belief, and channel peer support for rural women to become leaders in their communities and it is the heart of a peer support structure connecting 22,000 women from 2,000 villages across Myanmar. The volunteer network around the app started with 30 recruited university students and has been expanded to more than 200 youth who are traveling across the country to introduce rural women to basics of mobile IT and train them on how to share the app phone-to-phone with others and become iWomen App Champions.
The slideshow below illustrates step-by-step how the app works:
iWomen App is an app which captures rural women attention by sharing human interest personal stories written by women across the world with the aim of creating ‘’teachable moments’’ in the preoccupied and busy minds of poor rural women (Be Inspired Function); an app which gives rural women hard knowledge on topics such as renewable energy, entrepreneurship, market, laws, rights, technology (Be Knowledgeable Function); an app which runs competitions with prizes to solidify the hard knowledge in the rural women minds and to be used as a monitoring tool to gauge users’ comprehension (Ready to Play Function); an app which provides a sharing platform where women can discuss in private issues of concern and receive remote mentorship (Talk Together & Be Together).
"I am proud and happy that in iWomen app, I can write poems which is my passion and that my poems are recognized. Empowerment - Women are empowered by iWomen, Become world famous and flying high in the air, Many problems are being solved, The little bird in the air, flying around the world to show what women can do, Moving forward, hand in hand to help May Doe Kabar grow, Let's work for development with the aim to create a beautiful world, iWomen helps to nurture women leaders."
Myanmar rural woman user
The development of the i-Women mobile application has been underpinned by the principles of human centred design (Creative confidence, Empathy, Embracing Ambiguity, Iteration) since its inception:
- A Human-Centered Design (HCD) Workshop was convened in June 2015 with 14 TLGs leaders, 10 young Myanmar ‘’IT geeks’’ and creative/design types along with UNDP Staff to finding innovative ways of establishing the best peer-support and communication system for the nascent National Network of Rural Myanmar Women.
- App developed by Women for Women: following the HCD Workshop, a team of young Myanmar tech women were recruited to be the key technical developers of the iWomen app. The app was co-developed by Myanmar tech women, rural women members of May Doe Kabar National Network of Rural Women and passionate UNDP innovators. iWomen app original idea of sharing inspiring stories in the form of personal letters written by high profile women to women and young women in developing countries came from British Charity Great Women Speak Out!
- Rapid prototyping & Practical Testing: during a rapid 8-week period (July-August), the prototype of the i-Women app was developed and tested three times with a group of ten rural women members of clustered from multiple villages as one TLG in the delta area of Myanmar (Kyaiklatt).
- Human-Centred Design Approach: during each round of testing, women were asked to rate the usability of the app, the functions on the app they like the best, the functions they felt were of most use to the network, the functions they felt were providing no additional value, and to make suggesions for improving the app’s practical usability and relevant functionality.
- Involvement of Young and Dynamic Myanmar Volunteers: during 2016-17 over 300 Myanmar IT University students were recruited to support iWomen app distribution, marketing, provide technical support to new users, and conduct wider user feedback surveys.
Page last updated: Aug 29, 2017