Copyright©2019 Paula Bock
Myanmar's Smartphone Revolution happened so fast, most mobile phone users have not learned how to use their phones safely or wisely.
And as digital finance launches in Myanmar with QR scan-and-pay and digitized government payments, the digitally uneducated are vulnerable to being both exploited by the digital economy and excluded from it.
Most women don't know their own passwords or how to recognize and avoid scams. Very few understand how to search the Internet. Fewer than 16% know how to download an app.
Myanmar's digital gender gap presents a tremendous opportunity: Women can learn how to use this powerful tool to improve their lives.
That's why we're excited about Mobilizing Myanmar's Digital Literacy and Livelihood Training--designed for women, by women--and delivered directly to women who are least likely to have access to digital education.
Where are the women?
Copyright © 2016 Paula Bock
Cultural norms exacerbate the gender gap as men learn informally from each other in tea shops and cafes where they socialize; women typically are not welcomed or comfortable in these "male" venues, and, even if they were, have no time to sit around because they are saddled with unpaid child care and household responsibilities on top of paid work to support their families.
Mobilizing Myanmar's women-to-women training reaches women through trusted women's networks and in fresh markets and other gathering places convenient, safe, and friendly for women.
Copyright © 2012 Paula Bock
Though the women of Myanmar toil in fields and fish markets, and labor in construction, factories, brothels and domestic servitude, they are largely excluded from the formal economy. Few women have bank accounts and only 0.01 percent of women can access credit with a formal financial institution.
Because they must hide cash on their bodies or at home, women are targets of robbery and assault.
And when migrant women send money home to their village, they often transfer cash through informal, unregulated, male "hundi" networks that can be expensive and unreliable.
Through Digital Literacy and Livelihood training, Mobilizing Myanmar empowers women to unlock myriad entrepreneurial opportunities, expand their markets and better respond to emergencies.
On the surface, mobile money is about technology and apps. But at its core, in a nation where 38 percent of the population lives below the global poverty threshold of $1.90/day, it's about transformation of society as women escape poverty, earn and save money, and gain power.
It's about changing social norms.
Copyright © 2019 Paula Bock