Empowering Women through Digital Innovations
When Myanmar began its transition to democracy in 2011, a mobile phone SIM card would usually cost about USD 1,000, making it an unaffordable luxury for regular workers.
The price decreased to USD 250 at the beginning of 2013, when the EU-funded SMART Myanmar project started. Public call stations on the street with landline phones were the most popular form of communication. Smart phone shops were still rare and the cheapest smartphone models cost around $100 USD.
In those days, buying a phone would thus cost about $350 USD, equivalent to roughly a three-month income of an average garment worker.
But prices kept on decreasing, while garment worker wages started increasing. In 2015 a SIM card would barely cost more than USD 1 and the cheapest smartphones were available for USD 25.
As a result, smartphone ownership skyrocketed. The SWITCH-Asia project estimates that in 2016 more than 90% of factory garment workers owned a smart phone.
To harness the energy of this unleashed potential, SMART Myanmar II - the second phase of the previous SWITCH-Asia project, started in 2016 - joined hands with the regional project 'Social and Labour Standards in the Textile and Garment Sector in Asia' funded by BMZ, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development), to pioneer the development of two educational smartphone apps: 'Shwe Job' ('Golden Jov') and 'Sat Yone Superstar' ('Factory Superstar').
'Shwe Job' is an app that informs workers about their legal rights and occupational health and safety issues. It was launched on 1 May 2017, and so far it has been downloaded from the Google Play Store more than 2,300 times, while receiving more than 23,500 Likes on its dedicated Facebook Page. 'Shwe Job' is currently being translated, and its English version is expected to be available on Google Play Store by mid-August 2017.
The newest app, 'Sat Yone Superstart', complements 'Shwe Job' by using an interactive gaming approach to educate garment factory workers about safety in the workplace and Myanmar's labour laws.
The game illustrates practical and common safety practices, such as those related to fire and boiler safety, chemical management, personal protective equipment use and various other relevant topics. It also includes quizzes on labour laws, such as about overtime laws, freedom of association and employee contract requirements.
The content is being developed by the SWITCH-Asia project's technical team based on its work experiences with more than 200 local factory managers and workers from more than 40 garment factories.
To be able to advance levels and earn rewards, the application characters must master these topics.
'Sat Yone Superstar' was one of the three digital initiatives to be awarded under the GIZ's competition "Empowerment of women through digital solutions" at the end of 2016. The competition aimed at celebrating innovative digital solutions, across sectors and countries, that support girls and women and reduce gender-based discrimination. More than 63 proposals were submitted to the jury, composed of representatives from GIZ and BMZ.
'Sat Yone Superstar' is expected to launch by year's end.
Written by: SMART Myanmar II project
Edited by: Silvia Sartori / SWITCH-Asia Network Facility