Factory superstar - how mobile apps can change the lives of women in the apparel industry in Myanmar

sequa was commissioned by the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) within the framework of the regional programme "Labour and Social Standards in the Textile and Clothing Sector in Asia (especially Bangladesh, Cambodia, Myanmar, Pakistan and China) - SLGS" to implement a project focusing on the empowerment of women workers in Myanmar's clothing industry.

Facts

Story ID707
Project TitleSocial and labour standards in the textile and garment sector in Asia
ClientDeutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
Duration 15.08.2016 – 30.06.2019
Project Budget961.021,00 EUR
ProgrammesGIZ
Region Asia
CountryBurma

Workers are informed about labour law, protection and safety. sequa focuses on the exchange of workers among each other in the so-called Sunday cafés and qualifies them with two mobile apps. If problems arise, the workers can take advantage of legal advice. Factory managers can also inform themselves about the legislation through the apps and events.

Initial situation / Problem

This is everyday life in Myanmar: hundreds of unskilled women come every day from rural areas to the city of Rangoon and start working in a clothing factory. The organisation of daily life without a family network and the handling of the working conditions in the factories present the young women with great challenges. If they cannot cope with these problems, they risk being exploited and getting into debt.

Project objectives

In order to help these women workers survive in the urban jungle and to make use of the digital opportunities in Myanmar, sequa was commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) to educate the women workers about their rights in the workplace and to advise them in case of conflict. Together with the EU-funded project SMART Myanmar, which is also managed by sequa gGmbH, sequa has launched and distributed two smartphone learning applications for garment workers.

The information app called Shwe Job (Goldene Arbeit) is designed to impart knowledge with simple stories and comics, while Sat Yone Superstar (Fabriksuperstar) pursues an interactive game approach.

In addition to creating the learning applications and providing information for workers and employers, there was a major focus on disseminating the use of the apps, because the more workers know their rights, the more likely they are to claim them and join forces to do so.

Effects

The plan to use digital solutions to reach large numbers of workers has proven its worth: a Facebook campaign on labour law, protection and safety has reached and informed nearly 13 million users in Myanmar.

To date, 14 Myanmar garment factories have used the apps to educate managers and more than 12,000 women workers about Myanmar's legal requirements.

Almost 3,700 workers visited the Sunday cafés in 2017, including to learn about labour legislation. Since the release of Shwe Job, 6532 users have used the Shwe Job app to find out about their rights at work. Almost 3,000 users have played the game since the release of Sat Yone Superstar five months ago. The Shwe Job page on Facebook recorded more than 75,000 likes.

26 employees from local Myanmar organisations have been trained as Myanmar labour law trainers to act as multipliers in factories, business associations and women's non-governmental organisations to help women.

Learning experiences

The strategy of using mobile apps to reach and educate a large number of women workers is more successful than expected. It was very important to have the Sunday cafés as a starting point for testing, using and distributing the apps.

Before developing digital solutions, one should first clarify with surveys of the target group and other stakeholders to what extent smartphones are used in the country, which devices with which operating systems and with which usage patterns are needed.

Important for the dissemination of knowledge are multipliers who can reach the core target group of female workers. In particular, the image-sensitive brand manufacturers such as Lindex and H&M have contributed to introducing the use of the apps to their suppliers in Myanmar.

When introducing the apps at factory level, the factories gave feedback that the content of the apps was useful for their daily work. 8 out of 10 factories were able to illustrate this with concrete examples. This is the prerequisite for using the apps at all.

In order to address the target group adequately and to be able to tailor the apps to the users, it is essential to work together with local service providers. However, this also meant that, depending on their capacities, language barriers and knowledge, more time was needed than was initially assumed. The development time per app was approximately 10 months, with the planned development time for Shwe Job at 3 months and Sat Yone Superstar at 6 months.

Special knowledge is required for digital gamification: Programming services are provided by the IT service provider. However, he hardly knows the target group and their life situation. The content of the apps was created by teams of experts from the fields of legal advice and sustainability standards. It was particularly challenging to achieve the combination of technical knowledge in game programming and creative implementation as well as adequate target group orientation.

Not everything is predictable: The games App Sat Yone Superstar had to be adapted after the development, because the users in Myanmar needed more instructions how to play the game than was initially assumed.

It is not enough to invest in the creation of the apps, even their distribution with videos, campaigns in the social media, at large events needs to be well managed and these necessary investments should be planned from the outset. In the case of Shwe Job, the C&A Foundation was won over to finance the necessary investment in the marketing and distribution of the app.

Contact

 Simone Lehmann
Simone Lehmann

+49 (0) 228 98238-47
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