作为联合国人道主义的一部分，联合国妇女组织(UN Women)正在与挪威一家创新公司Innovation Norway合作，研究区块链如何为妇女、女童提供支持。1月29日至2月1日，七家公司集合在纽约，在真实模拟场景下展示了技术方案。在这次活动中，技术提供商们展示了若干方式，让区块链技术可以为难民提供更先进的识别系统和资金服务。
IDbox就是展示的一个创新方案。这种太阳能供电的设备利用区块链技术，在没有互联网或电力的情况下，仅使用2G移动电话，就能创造出独一无二的数字身份和钱包。该项目首先在巴布亚新几内亚进行了测试，那里有超过80%的人口没有银行账户，许多人仍然生活在没有电的环境里，也没有正式的身份证明。该项目由Julien Bouteloup开发，得到了巴布亚新几内亚央行、Abt Associates和澳大利亚政府支持，倡导者希望它能开辟一条通往金融包容、能源交易、获取医疗服务、甚至投票的捷径。
与此同时，世界银行集团(World Bank Group)正与客户合作探索供应链管理、土地注册以及身份认证的解决方案。世行的一个团队还研究了这项技术的法律和政策维度。在越南，一项试点计划正在测试区块链如何帮助女性企业家证明自己的商业资产所有权，验证生产价值，并建立一个数字身份。人们希望这种信息可以作为一种担保形式，促进他们获得融资。
Blockchain is the subject of considerable hype, thanks largely to the rise (and fall and rise...) of high profile digital currencies. Beyond this spotlight, development experts and innovators are exploring whether the technology behind cryptocurrencies can be leveraged to advance gender equality.
Blockchain is a distributed ledger technology that facilitates peer-to-peer transactions without using an intermediary. (The technology is also notoriously difficult to follow, but we find this brief video helpful and this talk explains blockchain well, if you have a bit more time.) Put simply, the system is maintained by collaboration, code and sometimes competition. Many experts refer to Google Docs to explain the concept: multiple users can access the same document simultaneously and they can all see the changes. This feature potentially makes it suited for validating records and processing financial transactions in the absence of strong institutions.
UN Women is working with Innovation Norway to see how blockchain could support women and girls as a part of the UN’s humanitarian response. Between January 29 and February 1, they brought seven companies to New York to showcase their technological solutions in a live simulation. During the event, providers presented a few ways in which their blockchain solutions could offer more advanced identification and financial services for refugees.
IDbox was among the innovations showcased. The solar-powered device uses blockchain to create a unique digital identity and wallet in the absence of internet or electricity using only a 2G mobile phone. It was first tested in Papua New Guinea, where more than 80 percent of the population lacks a bank account, and many remain without electricity or formal identification. Built by Julien Bouteloup and supported by the Bank of Papua New Guinea, Abt Associates and the Australian government, advocates hope it can establish a pathway for financial inclusion, energy trading, access to health services, and even voting.
And in East Africa, SPENN by Blockbonds offers a digital wallet that allows users to receive, save, transfer and spend money. Its unique distribution network allows users to interact with each other to offer goods and services, providing an income-generating opportunity. If selected for use in UN refugee camps, the team hopes to improve safety by reducing the need for physical cash and to promote women’s control over their funds, all while stimulating the camp’s financial ecosystem.
While these solutions were not developed with the end goal of addressing gaps between women and men, the services they provide may offer displaced women more autonomy and economic opportunity. Women in countries with humanitarian crises are 30 percent less likely than men to have an individual financial account. Having a safe place to save and store humanitarian cash transfers and remittances is a key strategy for coping with shocks and building resilience.
Rather than using blockchain to replace traditional institutions, the UN sees this new technology as a means of streamlining its support after catastrophes and conflict.
Following the New York event, selected firms will be invited to submit full proposals to the UN to pilot their solutions in the field.
The technology’s application for development is still in its infancy, and it remains to be seen exactly how much disruption to gender inequality can be found in lines of code. The hard and slow work of shifting norms, changing attitudes and reducing biases cannot be overstated. But what is starting to emerge is a clearer picture of the supporting role that blockchain could play.
Meanwhile, the World Bank Group is working with clients to explore solutions for supply chain management, land registration and identification. One of our teams also examines the legal and policy dimensions of the technology. In Vietnam, a pilot is testing the ways in which blockchain could help women entrepreneurs to prove ownership of business assets, verify production values, and establish a digital identity. The hope is that this kind of information can serve as a form of collateral and boost their access to finance.