i-Women Inspiring Women Application Journey, Yangon Tech girls meets Rural Kyaiklat Women
14 Oct 2015
Early Saturday morning in Myanmar and two very different sets of women arise out of bed long before dawn. Three and a half hour's drive west out of Yangon in the Ayeyarwady Region of Myanmar, lies the little known town of Kyaiklat where the pace of rural Myanmar life flows on slowly like the great waters of the Irrawaddy River itself. Here, amongst the rice fields and traditional homes, a group of organised and determined rural women who have travelled into town from their villages prepare for a day’s work as team members in a new project to build a nationwide rural women mobile application.
On the same Saturday morning in Yangon, long before dawn, young women are pulling themselves out of bed. Tired, from working all week in the fashionable world of Myanmar's emerging computer tech industry, these young women make their sleepy way across the still quiet big city, to their meeting point in downtown Yangon. Young computer tech girls, armed with a breakfast picnic of Italian biscuits and coffee escape from the big city before the crazy congested morning traffic of Yangon has chance to build up. Heading west to Kyaiklat they discuss all the progress they have made constructing a new mobile application which will act as an essential new tool in the quest to build Myanmar’s first ever nationwide women’s network.
In Kyaiklat the rural women’s team prepare mohinga, a traditional Myanmar breakfast dish of fish soup and fried yellow beans. As they eat together sharing their delicious morning soup these women too are in deep discussion talking over all they have learnt from their first round of human centred design talks with UNDP and the tech girls. Simply put, human centred design means design created in partnership between the users and the technicians.
Upon arrival in Kyaiklat, both sets of women greet each other like old friends. Over cold drinks and snacks they tell each other stories of family and work, boyfriends and husbands, children and grandparents. Getting down to work they recap on what came out from their first human centred design workshop when these young tech girls and UNDP staff got together with the rural women of Kyaiklat to discuss how best they can support the development of the first Myanmar National Network of Rural Women by bringing the best of new technology into the heart of rural villages and inspiring one another to overcome their physical and emotional isolation, and to building enough self-confidence, vision and courage in each rural woman to become leaders within their communities. Catch up complete the tech girls launched into testing the iWomen Inspiring Women mobile application prototype with their new rural women’s network colleagues. To the village women’s surprise, tech girls would give them no instructions at all on how to operate the iWomen Inspiring Women application. Tech girls were using the same tough testing methodology for the iWomen app as used in the very best tech development companies in the United States and Europe whereby users should be fully able to switch on a mobile application and without help intuitively be able to find their own way round all the functions of the app.
To everyone’s surprise, it took no time at all until these app novice rural women without any help were logged in and navigating amongst the several iWomen app functions -Be Inspired, Be Knowledgeable, Be Together. Rural women had said during the Human Centred Design workshop that they wanted to get new ideas from other women who had succeeded in life. The tech girls had taken this human centred design outcome and created iWomen Inspiring Women mobile application functions. The Be Inspired function sends out personal letters of encouragement to the rural women’s network each week from women across Myanmar and from around the world who have shown incredible victories and achievements in their own lives and who wish to share their knowledge and experience with the rural women’s network. Women’s letters will come from all types of women from the very humble village woman who has solved a local issue to the greatest women achievers alive today including Noble Prize winners and international Superstars.
Rural women had said during the Human Centred Design workshop that they wanted resources to build their Network. The tech girls had taken this human centred design outcome and created the function Be Knowledgeable. This is the rural women’s own network toolkit complete with resources on all aspects of Communications and Self Development. Communications tools include guidance on how to build networks through social media as well as on how to interact with formal institutional bodies such as donors, Government and others. Also included are self-belief tools which provide a vital resource of interactive personal development mechanisms to explore aspects of personal development, confidence building and self-belief.
Rural women had said during the Human Centred Design workshop that they wanted to be connected to all other women's Township Leaders Groups in Myanmar. The tech girls had taken this outcome and created the third function Be Together. This function is a private peer to peer sharing platform where rural women network members can discuss anything they please from skill sharing to personal issues from network building at national level to solving local village problems.
If you want to Be Together with the rural women of Myanmar to help them on their journey then send them a letter of encouragement. Your story maybe the inspiration that lifts the hearts of rural Myanmar women.
With support from UNDP Innovation Fund, the iWomen app is being developed together by the rural women of Kyaiklat and tech girls of Yangon. Myanmar women solving Myanmar women's problems by being inspired, by being knowledgeable and by being together.