> Posted by Center Staff

If you want your message to be heard, go to where your intended audience is. If that intended audience is teenagers in the U.S., other than maybe schools or malls, what better place for engagement is there than cell phones? That’s the approach of Kiva and DoSomething.org’s new 25,000 Women campaign, an interactive phone-based project aimed at boosting the awareness among teens of the day-to-day challenges of women in developing countries, and in turn boosting teens’ engagement in promoting female entrepreneurship.

25,000 Women is centered on an SMS-based phone game that presents users with typical scenarios faced by women in developing countries and offers users options to choose from on what they think the best course of action would be. In accordance with the user’s responses, the game relays pertinent statistics and information on the realities of the given situation. One game scenario is, “You’re thirsty from working in the fields in Kenya. Would you rather A) Drink the murky water your employer provides? Or B) Go thirsty and risk dehydration?” If the user were to text respond “A”, the game would message, “Woah, only 59% of drinking water is actually safe — You could get a waterborne disease that puts you out of work for days (Yikes!).”

To add participation incentive, and to promote additional awareness as well as engagement and real-world impact, the game is linked to Kiva’s online micro-lending system. Individuals who share the game with the phones of six friends receive a US$25 loan credit to give to the woman entrepreneur on Kiva of their choosing. The hope is that this chain lengthens, that at least 25,000 working women around the world are supported, and that the project imparts a lasting impact among the teen participants on their ability to fight poverty.

The Kiva – DoSomething.org partnership was born out of Kiva’s interest in attracting more youth lenders to its program and DoSomething.org’s focus on engaging teens and young adults in social change initiatives. DoSomething.org conducted a similar campaign last year that targeted bullying, which engaged over 76,000 teens, and a teen pregnancy campaign over the last two years, which has had over 200,000 teen participants to date. 25,000 Women launched on July 19 and is planned to continue until September 19.

Seventy percent of the world’s 1.29 billion people living on less than US$1.25 a day are women. Though women work two-thirds of the world’s total working hours and produce half of the world’s food, they earn only 10 percent of the world’s income. The 25,000 Women campaign specifically targets women borrowers in El Salvador, Kenya, Mongolia, Pakistan, and the Philippines.

Image credit: DoSomething.org

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