IOM X AND IBM PARTNER TO PROTECT DOMESTIC WORKERS

09 SEPTEMBER 2016, BANGKOK
Summary
IOM X, IBM, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Australian Business Volunteers (ABV) have developed a prototype of a mobile application that could help female migrant domestic workers and their employers better communicate expectations, with an aim to help stop the exploitation of domestic workers in Asia Pacific.

IOM X, IBM, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Australian Business Volunteers (ABV) have developed a prototype of a mobile application that could help female migrant domestic workers and their employers better communicate expectations, with an aim to help stop the exploitation of domestic workers in Asia Pacific.

The prototype was the result of a partnership between IOM X, the International Organization for Migration's (IOM) campaign to prevent exploitation and human trafficking produced in partnership with USAID, and IBM’s Corporate Service Corps programme, which deploys staff to volunteer with government and non-governmental organizations to help solve critical problems. The partnership was facilitated by ABV.

“IOM X is always looking for innovative ways to use media and technology to help prevent exploitation, and this partnership with IBM provided an exciting opportunity for us,” said Tara Dermott, Program Leader, IOM X. “Live-in domestic workers and their employers often struggle to clearly communicate with each other, which is compounded by language barriers, cultural differences and gender dynamics. This lack of understanding can create an environment where exploitation thrives. The prototype we developed with IBM seeks to address this issue.”

“Using our expertise for social good is at the heart of IBM’s corporate identity, and our partnership with IOM X reflects this. Female migrant domestic workers are vulnerable due to their lack of rights, extreme dependency on their employers and the isolation of their work environment. This prototype aims to add an important layer of protection that is lacking,” said Helvio de Castro Machado Homem, a Technical IT Architect with IBM who participated in the project.

Over the course of five weeks in July and August, IOM X and IBM undertook an extensive deep dive into the issue of domestic worker exploitation, conducted interviews with subject matter experts and built the mobile application prototype. Borrowing from the “Design Sprint” method, an agile development framework straight out of Silicon Valley, experts from more than five countries and four sectors worked together to dissect the issue and develop solutions.

“We wanted to move away from a run of the mill brainstorming session. It was important that everyone in the room became an expert on the issue before putting forward solutions,” said Mike Nedelko, Digital Engagement Officer, IOM X. “This approach is new for public private partnerships and we are convinced that it has contributed significantly to the success of the project.”

The prototype was tested with domestic workers in Thailand and Hong Kong. A live feed of the testing was broadcast to 14 experts from IOM, IBM and HomeNet (a domestic worker network based in Thailand) who then refined the prototype based on the testers’ reactions and feedback. A go-to-market strategy and business plan for the mobile application was also developed.

An estimated 1.9 million domestic workers in Asia Pacific are being exploited, which includes low pay or no pay at all, excessive working hours (such as being on call for 24 hours a day), no weekly day off, living in unsafe conditions, debt-bondage and forced confinement.

Further development of the prototype into a useable mobile application is being explored.

Quotes
"IOM X is always looking for innovative ways to use media and technology to help prevent exploitation, and this partnership with IBM provided an exciting opportunity for us. Live-in domestic workers and their employers often struggle to clearly communicate with each other, which is compounded by language barriers, cultural differences and gender dynamics. This lack of understanding can create an environment where exploitation thrives. The prototype we developed with IBM seeks to address this issue." Tara Dermott, Program Leader, IOM X
"Using our expertise for social good is at the heart of IBM’s corporate identity, and our partnership with IOM X reflects this. Female migrant domestic workers are vulnerable due to their lack of rights, extreme dependency on their employers and the isolation of their work environment. This prototype aims to add an important layer of protection that is lacking." Helvio de Castro Machado Homem, Technical IT Architect with IBM
"We wanted to move away from a run of the mill brainstorming session. It was important that everyone in the room became an expert on the issue before putting forward solutions. This approach is new for public private partnerships and we are convinced that it has contributed significantly to the success of the project." Mike Nedelko, Digital Engagement Officer, IOM X
Spokespeople
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About IOM X

IOM X is the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) innovative campaign to encourage safe migration and public action to stop exploitation and human trafficking.

The campaign leverages the power and popularity of media and technology to inspire young people and their communities to act against human trafficking. IOM X moves beyond raising awareness to effecting behaviour change by applying a Communication for Development (C4D), evidenced-based and participatory framework to tailor messaging for its activities.

The campaign is produced in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Learn more at IOMX.org

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