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Collaborative Innovation and the Power of Local Conversation

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At OpenIDEO we believe that including local communities in our conversation is a key step in the challenge process. For our  Women’s Safety Challenge, women and girls living in low-income urban areas can provide unique insights and ideas about how to make cities safer. With that in mind, the Amplify Team has been in South Asia for the last two weeks, meeting with organisations, community members and other stakeholders and trying to answer this question:

How might we extend our collaborative innovation process to developing world communities not currently participating in the Women’s Safety Challenge?

Here’s what they’ve learned so far, as shared with us by Amplify Team members  Luisa Covaria and Shauna Carey:

Translation is key.
After meeting with more than 20 organisations in one week, we heard a lot about the challenge of language. In India, over 20 regional languages co-exist in a single city – in part due to massive urban migration – which means that any inclusive, solution-building platform needs to transcend linguistic barriers. Our team has brainstormed a few potential solutions to this challenge including voice recognition technology, online translation, visual cues and engaging diaspora community volunteers.

What other inspirations or insights might help us understand how to connect communities across linguistic and cultural boundaries? 

There is an opportunity to leverage existing community touchpoints.
This past week, our team traveled to Sonipat, a peri-urban community about 90 minutes outside Delhi. We attended a mela (large gathering like a fair or a rally) organised by Breakthrough and attended by more than 2,000 community health workers, called Ashas, who were there to learn about gender bias. At the mela we learned that Ashas are employed by the Indian government and are instrumental in spreading information across hard-to-reach communities. From SIM cards that allow free calls, to phone-distributed surveys, to FM radio shows available on phones, there are numerous existing networks of communication that connect the Ashas to each other. 

Another example: Each day approximately 35 girls in Delhi attend classes at the Feminist Access to Technology Center (FAT), where they learn computer skills and life skills around women’s empowerment. Asha, the woman who runs the program (and who isn’t related to the Ashas from the mela) sits in an interesting position: she has a unique understanding of the issues affecting the girls in her program, and she has the technical, web skills to share their stories with our global community on OpenIDEO. By partnering with Asha to get involved with our Women’s Safety Challenge, we’ll not only be getting the voices of FAT students onto the platform but we'll also be working around the substantial technological and life barriers that prevent many of the people we’ve met this week from getting directly involved on OpenIDEO. 

What other networks or organisations like these might act as catalysts for community collaboration?

Problems are not experienced by only one individual.
Through workshops with local women and girls, we discovered that it’s important to contextualise the stories of individuals in relation to their peers, their community networks and their environment. Individuals are more likely to tell their story within the framework of being part of a community – and may actually feel uncomfortable when pushed to share through a personal or individual lens.

How might we tap into community leaders or influentials to encourage them to share stories on behalf of individuals in their local areas?

Cheers Luisa and Shauna, for sharing your on-the-ground insights with us!  Great food for thought as we continue our efforts in the Research phase.
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Women's Safety Challenge

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