Many young people in Asia lack knowledge about their bodies and reproductive health, especially when it comes to menstruation. For example, nearly half of young girls surveyed in Pakistan reported receiving no knowledge about menstruation prior to their first period. Stigmas and social taboos make them feel they cannot ask questions about their bodies, even with family members, so myths and misinformation spread rapidly. As a result, adolescent pregnancy rates in Asia remain high when other areas of the world see them falling.
Created by UNICEF, Oky is the world’s first period tracking and reproductive health education app developed together with young people. At The Case for Her, we are big proponents of human-centered design and are proud to support Oky in its work to empower young menstruators in a fun and positive way.
Most period tracking apps available on the market are created for adults rather than young people, often lack an educational component, and are rarely adapted to local languages and contexts. Oky has been co-created with more than 400 young girls in Mongolia and Indonesia to ensure that it works for them and their digital realities. Boys, parents, teachers, healthcare workers, and UNICEF education and medical experts were also consulted during the design stage. During these sessions, several themes were identified as important:
- Lightweight: The app should minimize storage space requirements and must be able to operate on low-end or older phones without issues.
- Offline capabilities: Many users have access to mobile phones, but data packages and wifi are rarely available. The app must function without network connectivity.
- Strong privacy protection: Many phones are shared within families, so password protection is key. In addition, the users asked that the app name and logo not be obviously related to menstruation.
- Fun and modular: Users wanted a happy and fun app that felt more like a game or a companion rather than just a cycle tracker. They also wanted to be able to change the look and feel of the app to evolve along with them.
Besides state-of-the-art individualized period prediction technology, Oky is a resource for information about puberty and reproductive health that is relevant to all genders. The global version of the app has sections with information on sex and contraceptives, and gamified content like quizzes are pushed out according to the age range of the user.
But what excites us most about Oky? It’s completely open-source! Instead of taking on costly, one-off, development projects, Oky can be quickly and effectively deployed as a complement to existing services in any area of the world. With minimal investment, implementation partners have the opportunity to own and host a localized version of the Oky app complete with language, avatars, and content specially designed for their target audience.
We are looking forward to seeing Oky grow to reach new languages and audiences. If you would like to partner with UNICEF on a localized version of Oky or contribute in another way, please reach out to the Oky team today.
/ Wendy Anderson, Co-founder of The Case for Her