My journey to Zhuhai was a long one. On behalf of Wireless Reach, I left San Diego in anticipation of meeting several female factory workers from the Mobilizing HERhealth project in China. I wasn’t sure what to expect, so I decided not to place any expectations on the visit. After passing through Hong Kong, we made our way to the Flextronics factory in the port town of Zhuhai on mainland China. Welcomed by the director of CSER (corporate social employee responsibility, with an emphasis on taking care of employees), we were soon introduced to several of the women participating in the program.
Most of them were in their early twenties and were equally shy and bubbly. Somewhat reserved and always respectful of the Qualcomm and Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) delegation, they giggled and held hands with one another as they posed for pictures while demonstrating how they use the mobile app that provides them with access to health information.
These women were a small segment of the 150 women participating in this Wireless Reach mHealth project that extends throughout China. Based upon BSR’s paper-based HERhealth initiative that provides women working in global supply chains with comprehensive training in a range of wellness topics including reproductive health and nutrition, Mobilizing HERhealth has taken the project digital.
By adapting the curriculum to a mobile app, the women are given the flexibility to access the content remotely and ask questions under a shroud of anonymity. Questions about family planning and personal hygiene can be asked without fear of reproach or judgment and peer health educators are usually quick to answer-oftentimes within minutes.
In my role managing the PR and Marketing for Wireless Reach, it is invaluable when I’m able to visit our projects and meet project participants because I’m able to get to know them and learn more about their lives. What’s more important, is how I’m able to witness firsthand how mobile broadband is being utilized to truly transform their lives.
When you think about the many apps we use on a daily basis, I don’t know that I can say any one is life-changing for me. However, in a world where access to information is a challenge for some, a simple app with what we consider to be basic information can improve women workers’ access to health care information and services, leading to reduced health risks and enhanced well-being.
Many of the women I met were from small, rural villages where there wasn’t an abundance of work options. They now live at the factory, with the other women, where they have created their own village of support. Often leaving children behind with family to care for them, these young women are hardworking, responsible and incredibly appreciative of this opportunity they have to improve and manage their personal health, while sharing information amongst one another.
And, like many of us, they also enjoy the occasional selfie.