On 24 August, Pact, one of the longest serving international NGOs in Myanmar, introduced a series of stories on women economic empowerment on iWomen, a mobile phone application powered by UNDP.
The stories to be published on a weekly basis, feature real life testimonies of women who are part of Swan Yi, a Pact and CoCa-Cola Project and a savings-led women economic empowerment project called WORTH. In addition, Pact will introduce iWomen application to 12,000 women from seven townships.
Since its introduction in Myanmar in April 2010, WORTH program has directly empowered 6334 women with sustainable and low-cost financing to meet their daily needs, initiated a variety of micro-enterprises, and increased family incomes. Unlike formal and institutional microfinance, WORTH does not offer seed money, matching grants, and subsidised interest rates, instead it provides a tailored training curriculum, introducing women to financial and business literacy. The stories featured on the iWomen platform highlight the success of a handful of women, a small fraction of the thousands of women who have benefited from WORTH over the years.
The ‘iWomen- Inspiring Women’ is an android mobile phone application for Myanmar women living in rural areas that was developed by UNDP with support from the UNDP Innovation Fund. Featuring stories in Myanmar and English from various spheres of women’s empowerment, the app is both a repository for inspiring stories of Myanmar Women and a platform to learn and exchange. The application is downloadable free of charge from the google play store.
Considering that rural women often lag behind in access to information, the app helps to bring diverse stories of triumph from and about other women in similar circumstances as the targeted audience. The platform seeks to bring about ‘strength of mind and character’ by empowering the rural women of Myanmar through peer-to-peer sharing of their daily experiences and solutions to common challenges they encounter. The iWomen app will offer an opportunity for WORTH members to cascade their knowledge on savings-led microfinance and business initiatives to other women who may be interested in exploring these livelihood options.
Dr EiThinzar Min Min Oo, Pact Senior Coordinator, said the app will enable women in the WORTH program to learn from other women as well as access market information relevant to their micro-enterprises. “We would like our women to be inspired and be knowledgeable by reading the success stories of women from around the world,” she added.
The WORTH women will join 3000 women from 31 townships who are already actively using the iWomen application across Myanmar since June 2015 when the app was first launched.