The article “Expensive NGO Phone Apps Gather Digital Dust” (February 25), about our efforts to end violence against women, makes a good point: It’s important to design for the beneficiaries.
The Asia Foundation opened our office in Cambodia in 1955 and broke ground in the early 1990s with a landmark study on the underlying causes of domestic violence in Cambodia. Up to that point, no one was talking about this rampant, nationwide problem.
The VXWAward.org project—enabling mobile app design by local activists themselves, from the Cambodia Young Women Empowerment Network and from among other leading organizations working to end violence against women—is part of a broad continuum of efforts to encourage a productive national dialogue about widespread domestic violence, and to stop it. Other interventions are crucial, including: peer-to-peer education, counseling, and alcohol abuse reduction programs, for example.
Creating mobile-phone applications for solving complex social problems rarely offers silver bullets. That’s why we focus on expanding women’s economic, educational and legal rights and promoting women’s effective participation in political and public life. When women are fundamentality being denied their rights, and where even the ability to reach out to seek help is suppressed, it’s essential to find ways to break down walls of silence.
With smartphone growth in Cambodia at over 30 percent per year, mobile technology is surely a piece of the puzzle yet no quick fix.
The Asia Foundation
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