Writing Rights Ltd
Journalist, Campaigner, Director of Writing Rights
The Mohajer App was awarded a special jury prize at the Techfugees Summit: read TechCrunch's report - here.
This week I had the great privilege and challenge of working with content and messaging in a new context: presenting the Mohajer App at the Techfugees Summit in Paris as part of the 'Global Challenges' competition. I worked with the team to create a presentation, which I then delivered to the panel of judges. Mohajer is the app for Afghan refugees and migrants in Iran: the amazing team of Iranians and Afghans behind this project were not able to present the Project, for security and travel reasons.
I’ve been linked to this Project since its beginnings, when I was working in the Calais camp, and I and one of the team started discussions and formal scoping with Afghan and Iranian refugees about information and empowerment. The Calais camp was demolished shortly afterwards, but the idea was adapted and and applied to a new context.
The app provides:
1) A unified and secure platform to report human rights abuses and injustice; and
2) A place to find reliable and critical information in order to enforce and enjoy human rights.
All of this is provided in Farsi, Pashtu, and English.
Information is power, but in the migrant context, this is more than just a slogan - and it can be much more complex than it appears. Information needs to flow in two directions. Access to reliable and relevant information, and the power to report and share information, are crucial elements of empowerment and ensuring human rights for refugees and migrants. People need to be able to speak and to know – to have their stories heard, as well as being able to access relevant and reliable information when in need.
The Afghan community in Iran is not only the subject of de facto discrimination in society, it has also been legally and officially deprived of equal rights, with obstacles including:
Trying to learn about your own rights in Iran can be like sticking your head inside Pandora’s box – there’s a mass of information, often unreliable, outdated, intentionally confusing, set against a highly-complex set of government and legal structures.
Mohajer's innovation is simplicity: it is the quiet, calm, reliable voice amid the noise: reliable, complete, simple information in three languages, available offline. It’s also a secure, platform and an anonymised connection to support services resources
The app's first two years have been packed with research, content-creation, and the development of the app itself. Mohajer had to get creative to deal with the specific challenges of the Iranian context: problem-solving has often meant going back to basics, back to paper and pen, phone-calls, and knocking on doors. Though users see a highly secure and functional piece of software, the contexts demands that an old school approach: it is slow but it is worth it – these coordinated and verified resources did not and could not exist without this work, and the need is huge.
Distribution of the app was another challenge, staying under the radar is key in this context – Mohajer has hand-distributed leaflets and word of mouth – it’s not high-tech, but high-tech isn’t always the best-tech: though Mohajer is an app, tech is the means and not the end.
It was a privilege to present the incredible work of this team at the Summit, and the jury prize was an apt recognition of their amazing work - I'm proud to have played my role and hope that it leads to more partnerships and support for the project.