Connect Rural Women on the Internet

DinoTank is an internal pitch platform in order to innovate and solve current issues that are relevant to Mozilla’s mission. DinoTank 2016, came with a twist — instead of pitching ideas we focused on pitching problem statements.

To give each DinoTank winner the best possible start, we set up a design sprint for each one. This is the second blog post from the series of DinoTank sprints by Vnisha Srivastav, volunteer in the Mozilla community.

Nearly 70% of Indian population resides in rural areas and about 47% of this rural population constitutes women. These rural women, forming about 1/3rd of India’s population, play the key role in social changes required for economic development and overall well-being.

Coming from a rural area in Uttar Pradesh and having seen the life of women there, I am a testimony to the sorry state of rural women in India — young girls dropping out from schools after primary education, getting embroiled in marriage and family responsibilities, families being apprehensive about girls using mobiles and the internet. Probably, these are the reasons for the biggest online gender disparity in India; only 2% of internet users in rural India are women.

Being picked by the DinoTank jury I got the exciting opportunity to get to gather a group of designers, engineers, social scientist and activists in Bangalore for a two-day sprint, to work in-depth on this problem.

Getting to understand the problem

In order to deeply understand the realities on the ground and gain perspectives, we partnered with Quest Alliance and interviewed a series of young women who had embraced opportunities and leapt out of the rural areas surrounding Bangalore, to study technology and media. Through focus group sessions and interviews we learned about the hurdles and barriers they had to overcome to get access to education and technology. They talked about their own viewpoint on their situation and what helped them. From this we extracted a series of insights that helped us understand the problem in more detail.

DinoTank Insights “Connecting Rural Women on the Internet”

Moving from insights to ideation

Once we understood the problems better, we moved to think about what could be done to help solve them. Using the Creative Matrix methodology in order to have a structured ideation process, the participants were challenged to think outside the box and in unconventional directions.

While ideation was great, it was now time to narrow the outcome further down: we took our wall of ideas and went from over 100 to the strongest 3–4 which we particularly liked. We then started discussing them and creating storyboards.

These compelling user focused narratives allowed us to really explore the ideas as end-to-end solutions and helped us focus on user experience and how they could work in real life.

Paper Prototyping

Lastly, we were tasked with creating Paper Prototypes of our ideas. This allowed us to mimic an experience, veryearly on at idea phase.

To identify what part of the experience to paper prototype, we looked for the critical point of failure. We asked ourselves, what in this concept/idea we were most uncertain of? What in the experience did we think people may not get? What did we feel we needed validation on?

These paper prototypes helped us mock-test our ideas and really showed, what worked and what didn’t.

What I learned

One of the things that impressed me was that facilitators and my co-participants listened intently and offered sincere suggestions for improvement on the project, rather than politely acknowledging the discussion.

Also, I learned how to ask the right questions and how to present the research effectively. The design sprint was a hands-on, thought-provoking program that left me inspired. Feeling much more influential with many actionable take-aways I can apply immediately for my problem statement. The information and acquired skills learned in this sprint will greatly help me achieve my goals in taking this project forward.

Moving Forward

With the basic experiment in place, the next steps are:

  • Testing the prototypes in real settings
  • Building resources to further work on this project
  • Looking for collaborations

Watch this space!

I would like to sincerely thank Kotresh HB, Rina Jensen, Michael Henretty, Rosana Ardila, Subhashish Panigrahi and all the people present in the workshop for their contributions in making this effort successful.

Further reading

If you want to know more about what we did, what we developed and what we are doing, please read our full report.

Furthermore, several participants blogged about the event: