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Digital solutions to empower women and safeguard traditional crafts

Digital solutions to empower women and safeguard traditional crafts

“All women have a duty to inherit and transmit their knowledge to children.”
- Chutima Morlaekuu, an Akha woman and member of the Committee of the Indigenous Tribal Council of Thailand and Vice President of the Impact Association.

Crafts-women have been the gatekeepers of traditions and cultures for centuries. However in reality, facing various family responsibilities, primary employment and rapid changes of the globalizing world, crafts-women have to juggle several duties in addition to ensuring that their cultures, heritage and wisdom are passed on to future generations and can survive in the modern world.

In fact, today in Ban Mae Klang Luang Village in Chiang Mai, there are only 20 households that are members of the Karen community weaving group. Among many, the main barriers to safeguard such intangible cultural heritage include 1) few official records or documentation on methodologies and meaning of ethnic minority/indigenous traditional crafts; 2) decreasing interest from younger generations to take up crafts-making skills and knowledge because of the image of unprofitability or the need to prioritize other more stable jobs; and 3) low digital literacy and entrepreneurial understanding among the ethnic minority/indigenous crafts-women to expand the crafts business beyond tourist groups or weekend markets.   


Can digital solutions help empower indigenous/ethnic minority crafts-women and safeguard their precious intangible cultural heritage?

Coinciding with International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples (9 August 2019), UNESCO Bangkok and Samsung are co-organizing a hackathon to find digital solutions to empower women in the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) sector. More specifically, this hackathon will gather 10 teams consisting of Samsung IT volunteers, local ethnic minority crafts-women and local entrepreneurs to collectively build digital solutions that can help:

1) document and transmit traditional crafts, skills and knowledge

2) provide marketing and commercial opportunities for crafts-women

The end products are expected to consider the local crafts-women’s interests and needs at heart. In parallel, Samsung will also provide various needs-based training, including ICT use for marketing, entrepreneurship and more.

This event is part of UNESCO’s larger project “Women e-nspire Culture” that empowers ethnic minority/indigenous crafts-women to develop digital and entrepreneurial skills to safeguard their cultures and generate income. Post-hackathon activities are in the process of development.


6-9 August 2019, Chiang Mai

The primary languages of the hackathon will be Thai (predominantly) and English. Thai-Korean interpreters will be provided to each team.


Local ethnic minority/indigenous craft-women, Samsung IT volunteers, local entrepreneurs, experts, and international organizations (by invitation only). 


The solutions proposed at the hackathon should address the following questions:

  • Which easy and accessible ICT tools/resources/platforms can support the documentation and transmission of crafts-women’s cultures (in mother tongue, Thai and English languages) in order to safeguard and preserve their livelihoods in a way that keeps the ownership of this knowledge and process within the communities? 

  • How can easy and accessible ICT tools/resources/platforms (in mother tongue, Thai and English languages) support the marketing and income generation of crafts-women based on their traditional knowledge and skills? How can ICT help with various steps of the business process, such as advertising, collaborating, communicating, selling and even learning from others?
  • How can ICT tools/resources/platforms promote and boost a more entrepreneurial spirit and skills in the crafts-women that is not only focused on selling the same products and staying dependent on passerby tourists?

UNESCO contact:

Auken Tungatarova
Programme Officer
UNESCO Bangkok


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