Inaugural I4I Ideathon Empowers Young Mekong-Region Women

The inaugural Innovation 4 Impact Ideathon, organised by UN Women Cambodia, brought more than 70 young women from Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam to Cambodia, to come together and come up with solutions for problems facing them and their peers today.

The 3-day event included experts in Design Thinking, Gender and Communications from Cambodia and across the region, sharing with the participants ideas, tips and real examples to address problems concerning women’s access to employment, promotion, education and safety they had identified in their communities.

The Ideathon culminated in a day-long workshop drawing upon the learned design thinking principles, to come up with incredible solutions that leverage on technology to try to solve real problems.

“They’ll have a chance to develop some skills together, I hope they will gain a great network and some confidence to know that there are barriers or problems, but the solutions are often inside ourselves,” explained UN Women Country Representative Sarah Knibbs at the start of the planning stage.

Volunteer mentors from diverse professional backgrounds working in Cambodia, worked with the participants to help explain the new concepts, and learn alongside them. Adrienne and Peter from the Geeks in Cambodia team was actually mentors at the event!

Adrienne(extreme right) and Peter (2nd from right) with a team.

Chansocheata Poum, who shared her experiences to the participants as a scholar in a male-dominated field, and mentored one of the 10 teams of young women, expressed optimism that the Ideation event was imparting important information.

“Although it seems a little challenging, at the end when you get the results and look back, you’ll realise that these are very valuable skills because it’s not just about building the solution, but about building empathy and that is very important.”

Sinsavanh Sonepaseuth, a university student from Laos, was glad that she managed to meet other young women in Cambodia.

“We felt that we have the same problems, and we have the same perspective, even though we come from different backgrounds.”

Ms Chansocheata Poum, one of the mentors and speaker, guiding her team.

The 10 teams pitched their ideas after an intense planning and design session, and had 3 minutes to convince their peers on the proposals.

The winning team will go to Singapore to learn more about the roles of women in successful business, and well done on all the great ideas!

“They don’t need to change their lives in fundamental ways, but shift their world in particular ways, so they can look at challenges they face and see how they can address those problems in a meaningful way… solutions must be for people,” explained K Veerapandiyan from the Ministry of Education in Singapore, who facilitated the event.

Mr K. Veerapandiyan, who facilitated the Design Thinking process.