More than a hundred rural women in Myanmar divided across two locations – Mindat, Chin State and Myitkyina, Kachin State – learnt about mobile phone technology today using role plays on the internet and lively question and answer sessions.
For some, the concept of the internet was new. For others, the differentiation between the popular social networking site Facebook and the internet was not evident.
The events were organized as part of the Myanmar chapter of the Social Good Summit. The Summit, held annually in various locations around the globe to coincide with the United Nations General Assembly, brings together people from many walks of life around a common theme. This year’s theme is “Connecting Today, Creating Tomorrow”.
Statistics show that in Myanmar, around 50% of the population owns phones, and smart phones are the first handsets to be owned by 80%.
“May Doe Kabar, the Myanmar Rural Women’s network has already recognized the power of mobile technology. This is why May Doe Kabar and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) together have created a mobile phone application, called iWomen – Inspiring Women app – to connect rural women in Myanmar to women across the world, inspiring them to learn new things, reach new heights and develop themselves and their families further,” said UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, Thuy Hang Thi To, speaking to participants in Myitkyina.
“I really enjoyed today’s session. I learnt a lot of new things and one of the most significant was how to search for information on the internet,” said 36-year old Nin Sar.
26-year old, Bawn Nam was one of the more internet savvy participants, being a regular social media user.
“I usually use my phone for Facebook, emails and chatting. I was unaware of the iWomen app until this morning. I am glad I got to learn more about the app. It has many useful features which can help empower rural women,” she said. The iWomen – Inspiring Women app is a free app co-designed by rural women. It has four broad categories – Be Inspired, Be Knowledgeable; Be Together and Talk Together. Since its launch in March, the app has attracted more than 3700 active users.
The app has been developed with funding from UNDP Innovation Fund and the Governments of Sweden and Denmark.
Lin Aung Htet