Development and gaming experts backed by USAID are combining the important issues of gender equality and women’s empowerment with the entertainment possibilities of mobile phone games.
The Agency is supporting the Half the Sky Movement through a $1.4 million investment in the C-Change project, which has produced three mobile phone games for people in India and East Africa on topics as diverse as:
The project also produced 18 educational/advocacy videos for use in India, Liberia, Somaliland and East Africa.
The Half the Sky Movement is the brainchild of husband-and-wife authors Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, whose 2009 book of Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide became a best-seller and was turned into a two-part, four-hour PBS television series in 2012. The Half the Sky Movement – a companion campaign to the book and film – is a multi-donor, multimedia platform developed, in part, by film and game producers Show of Force and Games for Change.
The mobile games are designed to take advantage of the more than 6 billion mobile phone subscriptions worldwide, three-quarters of them in developing countries. The goal is to engage players around topics and information that can help them improve their lives and the lives of their families.
All three games use two common models to achieve social impact—adventure and simulation. Players are exposed to characters that can serve as role models, and will be rewarded for positive actions, such as killing the worms inside their stomachs or seeking antenatal care. Players also face choices, such as making decisions that lead to a delay in marriage and betterment of the family.
The three mobile phone games are available in English, Hindi and Kiswahili. Complementary short educational videos and a facilitator’s manual were developed alongside the games to enhance their use within communities by NGOs and other groups. The games are free and available through in-country mobile phone app stores, including Nokia, Safaricom, GetJar and Appia. Or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org for access to the games.
This video complements the Half the Sky Movement’s mobile game, Family Choices. The video centers on an eighth-grader named Puja who does not want to get married at age 13 and follow in the footsteps of her mother and other girls in her village. Puja’s parents and grandparents support her as they believe that delaying marriage and pursuing education is good for Puja and the entire family.
A candid and moving discussion about domestic violence that includes the viewpoints of both men and women in Liberia is displayed in this film. The video aims to make the viewer see that domestic violence is not a private ‘boyfriend/girlfriend’ matter but a public health issue that needs discussion and ultimately to be stopped.
This short video in the style of a public service announcement stresses the importance of comprehensive sexual education, highlights the problems lack of it can cause, and argues that it empowers young people to make informed decisions about their bodies, relationships, and health.
Edna Adan, head of the only maternity hospital in Somaliland, encourages women to become midwives through her midwife training program. In the video, Edna describes the program and women who participate in the training tell their stories. Pregnancy related morbidity and mortality are extremely high in the region and Edna and her trainees are determined to change that.
This video complements the Half the Sky Movement’s mobile game, Family Choices. It tells the inspiring story of one Masaai family who cast aside community judgment and chose not to circumcise their daughters. The film focuses on Maggie, the second daughter who serves her community as a government health worker. Through the powerful example of this family, many other parents decided to abandon the harmful tradition of female circumcision and early marriage in favor of educating their daughters.
The collective power of women’s self-help groups is demonstrated in this video. The film highlights the individual, family, and community benefits of women joining together, creating solutions, and talking with men about treating their sons and daughters equally, financial savings, and contributing positively to their communities.
The videos were filmed in partnership with a cadre of NGOs working in health and development, including CEDPA, Deworm the World, CARE, IRC, SEWA, Girl Child Network and Pathfinder.
Last updated: July 19, 2013