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Securing livelihoods, saving lives and protecting dignity.

Nearly 400 million people live in Indian cities. However, only half as many urban women work as their rural counterparts due to lack of skills, opportunities and access to information. Further, in the name of employment, there has been an increasing trend of exploitation and violence against young girls by human trafficking mafia, which discourage middle and low income families to let women explore employment opportunities. Hence, there is an urgent need to ensure livelihood security, life safety, protecting the dignity of aspiring young women from low income families in urban areas of India, through application of mobile technologies, access to information, awareness, education and skill development.

Photo of Parnasri Ray Choudhury
8 19

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Provide a short description of your idea

My idea is a program to promote social enterprises of young women. It addresses the problem by connect with young aspiring urban women and girls with safe and secure employment opportunities, encouraging them to live life on their own terms with dignity and a sense of empowerment. The objective is to prevent exploitation, betrayal and violence against young women and girls in the name of employment by human trafficking mafia. The approach is to facilitate right information, right skills and right opportunities for young women and girls by adopting technology, in collaboration with community organizations, placement agencies and government authorities.

Get a user's perspective on your idea.

For this idea, the specific user audience for initial implementation phase would be the young women from one major city of Southern India, i.e-Visakhapatnam of state Andra Pradesh in India. However, the intermediate target audience would be the large number of aspiring young women from low income families in the urban areas of India. The broad target audience will be the mobile application developers, community organizations, placement agencies, legal experts and government authorities, as the key ingredients for this idea is to work with information, communication, skills, technology, policy and institutions.

Show us what implementation might look like.

The implementation outline:- 1. Preparatory stage:- # Research and data collection. 2. Implementation phase:- # Cross pollination, # Consultation meetings, # Institutional building, # Awareness, education and skill development, # Technology development, # Technology supply and orientation.
1. Context:-
According to a UNESCO study conducted in seven developing
countries (i.e- Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Uganda and Zimbabwe),-"females read far more on mobile devices than males (almost six times as much according to the study); both men and women read more cumulatively when they start reading on a mobile device; and many neo- and semi-literate people use their mobile phones to search for text that is appropriate to their reading ability". However, there are few examples to demonstrate the use of such vibrant technology for live and livelihood security of women.   

2# Changing social trend:- 
The raising inflation and cost of living have of late forced the low and middle income families in India to widen the options of income for survival and sustenance. In the process a large number of young boys and girls are coming out in search of employment opportunities in India and abroad. Many of them are semi-educated, unskilled and unfamiliar with the employment demands and conditions in the market.This situation is specially makes young girls vulnerable to exploitation by various forces.

There have been reports of young women being trapped by human trafficking mafia in the name of employment in so called   greener pastures in other cities and far away countries. While, most  of these young women are duped mid-way and sent back, some of them are exploited physically, psychologically, sexually and economically.

3# Bridge information-knowledge gaps:- 
The exploitation of young girls is perpetuated by a nexus of  human trafficking mafia, illegal and unlicensed travel companies and corrupt elements in the immigration agencies in respective countries.The main disadvantage is the innocence, lack of awareness, information and knowledge-on "how to secure an employment in country or overseas".

Further, inadequate skills for young girls to compete dignified jobs in domestic market and lack of means to verify the truth about overseas employment, makes young girls vulnerable to exploitation.

In this backdrop, there is an urgent need to bridge this knowledge, information skill gaps so as to secure the livelihoods of young girls and also to ensure their life security. We have the opportunity of putting mobile technology in to service to aid aspiring young girls in their pursuit for livelihoods and most importantly, for dignified lives.  

4# The process:-

4.1# Collection of data:- 
Generating data of young girls with employment aspirations, collecting data on employment opportunities in target cities, network with licensed employment agencies in those cities, gathering data on employment skill requirements and process of application, information on living conditions and challenges in target places, information on security agencies and sources (such as-local police, community centers, respective embassies, women’s rights sectors, labor organizations).

4.2# Creating access to data:-
Making the above data accessible to young girls through mobile phones and smart phones through dedicated call centers and a web portal so they can access right information and verify the offers made by potential traffickers.This would require aligning with telecommunication experts, software application specialists, web-designers to designing an appropriate application.

4.3# Promoting social support systems:- 
Apart from data gathering and data accessing this initiative would also require to work closely with the social development sectors and the organizations working closely with young women.Then bring this facility to these women with education and guidence, and help them to chose employment that is suitable to their skills.

4.4# Enabling access to technology:-
Working with government authorities and mobile companies to ensure that the cost of "easy to navigate"  mobile phones is reduced so young girls from low income families or non-profit making organizations (who all have been working with these ladies) are able to purchase a simple handset to them. 

5# The idea:-
The idea will be implemented by mobilizing community organizations, generating and codifying appropriate information, networking with relevant government, non government and commercial organization, skill building and mentoring of young women, working with placement agencies to find safe and secure opportunities and establishing protocols to ensure work place safety of young women.

The initiative will be made successful by young, energetic, aspiring
and intelligent young women and their quest for right information, right source, right skills and right environment for safe and secure livelihoods.

Operationally, it can be made successful by collaborating with active women's groups, social development organizations, technological experts with social consciousness, telecommunication organizations with corporate social responsibility.

Explain your idea in one sentence.

Enable safe and secure livelihood for young women in urban India through knowledge, information, technology, awareness, and skill development.

What is the need you are trying to solve?

To ensure the safe and secure livelihoods for women in urban areas- (a) Women need right information, reliable information, and authentic source of employment; (b) Women need right education, skills and employment; (c) Women need the support of technology, protocol and services; (d) Women need institutions, organisations and systems, that connects them with right opportunities either within India or abroad; (e) Women need life progress without risking their safety and dignity.

Who will benefit from this idea and how would you monitor its success?

This idea and initiative will benefit millions of young urban women who are eager to access safer and secure livelihoods, empower themselves and enjoy right to life with dignity. The success of this initiative will be monitored through periodic reviews by real time monitoring mechanisms, monitoring teams at various levels and through local community level advisory groups and GIS application. More detailed and step by step monitoring mechanism will be designed subsequently and when the program expands it's target group and the operational zone.

Who would be best equipped to implement this idea in the real world? You? Your organisation? Another organisation or entity?

This idea and the initiative will be implemented by my organization known as Safe Citizen.Org-Humanitarian Initiatives, in collaboration with local non-profit making organisations, women's self help groups, community level institutions, labor organizations, legal experts, technological firms and local government organizations.

Where should this idea be implemented?

This initiative is best suited in major urban centers and semi urban cities in India. However, given the presence and the reach of my organization it will be further expanded and implemented primarily in urban centers of southern India.

How might you prototype this idea and test some of the assumptions behind it?

This idea will be implemented as a prototype in a relatively smaller city of Visakhapatnam in South India, in collaboration with community based social development organizations and technological firms. After 2-5 years of successful implementation, monitoring, learning and impact assessment, this idea will be therefore scaled up in other connected and vulnerable cities in South India and later in other parts of India.

What might a day in the life of a community member interacting with your idea look like?

A sincere young girl from a humble family, who wants to become a source of additional strength for family income will find a sense of direction and a reliable resource to begin her economic journey. The young girls form such families will now be able to use mobile phones with "easy to navigate" applications and would find safe employment opportunities, get daily updates on local risks and safety information and conduct their employment and economic activities with a sense of safety, liberty and confidence.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Suzanne Kirkpatrick

Hi Parnasri, would love to know more about data and research on mobile phone usage by women in India as it relates to your idea. Which trends are interesting and relevant to your approach? What kinds of mobile devices are most widely used among women, which smartphones, age groups, income levels, geolocation trends, etc. Interesting!

Photo of Parnasri Ray Choudhury

Hi Suzanne, Thanks for your attention. A study conducted by Cherie Blaire foundation for women on gender gaps in mobile phone access and use found that a woman is 23% less likely to own a mobile phone than a man in South Asian countries.

According to this study, only 28 percent of Indian women own a mobile phone, compared with 40 percent of men. An additional 20 percent of women have access to mobile phones through family members or friends.

This access to mobile phone for women is caused by cultural issues, such as traditional roles of men and women, household income, urban/rural location, age, occupation, education level, etc. However, on a brighter side, there has been an increasing trend of mobile phone use by women in rural areas thanks to a large number of NGO project that are enabling women's use of mobile phones for economic development. Due to cost considerations, most of these projects provide basic Nokia phone models to rural women.

In urban areas too, women are rather slow in desiring to access smart phones and are typically contended with basic phone models for mere texting and talking. The upcoming young girls however compete with boys in the use of smart phones, but they don't change their phones as often as boys do. The recent spate of violence against women in India has prompted the Government and private companies to come up with new mobile applications for women's safety. It is yet to be seen, how much it has influenced the use of smart phones by women in Urban India.

Thank you.

Photo of Karolle Rabarison

Hey Parnasri – Have you heard of Mobile Vaani? (

If the women and girls in the target population have access to basic phones, something like their service might be one way to reach women/girls for data collection purposes. Or if not their service as is, some adaptation of it. Might be a good idea to reach out to them and get their thoughts on approaches to refining/implementing your idea!

Photo of Parnasri Ray Choudhury

Hi Karolle: Nice to connect with you again, really appreciate your suggestion. Very true, we should be able to reach out to Vanni for any possible collaboration. They are proactive, and one of the active partners of Oxfam in India.I happened to interact with some of their field staffs sometime back, and should be able to reconnect as needed.

Surely you have seen SocioApps @
We are finding them equally useful, an option for collaboration.
Thanks again, lets stay connected,keep collaborating. Good luck.

Photo of DeletedUser


Hi Parnasri, I only found your comment just now on my project. Thanks for that. Meanwhile I have read yours and find it really really interesting. You know, our savings groups once there is a very large network which is relatively easy to keep in touch with (because as e-kulki we are already sending SMS messages with the savings updates) we want to involve these women in high quality market research. I think these thoughts are along the lines of your proposal. I really find your analysis and research very interesting and helpful to us. I hope we can find a way of cooperating.
Are you aware of the application Dooblo ( I am using that quite a lot for data collection, like surveys. But there is still a traditional interviewer involved as well.
thanks, let's keep in touch.
Anne Marie

Photo of Parnasri Ray Choudhury

Dear Anne: Once again, your project is just spectacular, and the effort you are making with women (from conflict areas) needs extra mention, I'm glad your idea is up and running on the ground with "e-kulki" and people already started finding it interesting, showing positive interest, extraordinary.I will navigate Daablo and see how best we can make use of such powerful application.

I'm glad you got my idea useful for sharing and it will be my pleasure to be in contact with you on this platform and keep exchanging ideas, thanks for adding in your team, I'm touched. All my best my Open IDEO friend, thanks a lot.

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