A Pakistani language app that’s now available in Apple and Android devices is a great example of how you can make a mobile app with the right tools.
The app, called Swachh Bharat, was created by an English-speaking developer, Abid Hasan, who was inspired by a series of tweets he saw in the country.
One of those tweets read: #SwachhBharat is a movement to empower women through an app, and that includes everything from health care to education to social justice to security.
Swachpati, a Bengali word meaning “swachh”, is a hashtag that has been used in the recent past to call for an app that is accessible to all genders, regardless of gender identity.
In this tweet, Abidi Hasan was also inspired to create a mobile application that would enable women to use their mobile phones for basic activities and get information about their health, and to also get help from the government when they needed it.
Abid has also been using the hashtag #Swahari (literally “women’s phone”) to raise awareness about the health and welfare of women and children, as well as to discuss issues affecting women and girls in Pakistan.
The Swachhar Bharat app is available for free on Google Play.
Abidi says that his initial goal with the app was to reach out to women through the hashtag, which is the first and only way that he can bring awareness about Swach Bharat.
As soon as he launched the app, it was clear that he was in for a surprise.
“We got a lot of messages and emails from women saying that they wanted to try the app and we were thrilled to hear this,” he says.
After receiving a few positive feedback, Abdi and his team decided to build Swachbhari into a fully fledged app.
The team has been using it to help raise awareness and also to offer support to women in the region.
They have already begun to receive requests from women in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh.
“It’s been really rewarding to see women respond positively and be excited about it,” says Abidi.
“In fact, one woman even emailed us saying that she had found a way to send a SMS message to the Swachhit Bharat team, and then we replied saying that the app could also be used for that.”
The app has already been downloaded more than 3 million times and is used by more than 1.5 million people in Pakistan and more than 500 million in the world.
“Swach Bharats are a simple, yet powerful way to empower our women and their communities,” says Javed Hashmi, CEO of Swach Bhari.
“This app provides an invaluable platform for women to learn about the world around them through their mobile devices, so they can be more empowered in their daily lives.”
Abidi’s team has also started working with other developers in the local community to make the app more accessible to women.
“There are women in Afghanistan and Pakistan who are doing a lot to support Swachdhari and have started to set up their own apps,” says Hasan.
“The app has also helped the government of Pakistan reach out and work with women in remote areas to better address their needs.”
Swachbharat, which was launched in March, has already helped bring more than 150,000 women to health clinics in Afghanistan.
“I think Swachhasabi is one of the most important things that the country has done,” says Nurul Islam, a community activist in Peshawar.
“Now women in different areas can get healthcare from doctors and other health professionals, as we can access them through Swachhtari, which allows us to communicate with them directly, instead of through phone calls or email.”
In the months that have passed, Swachtari has also grown to be a social media phenomenon and is now available on WhatsApp.
Abi Hasan is hoping that Swachr Bharat will be a model for other women to follow, and he believes that it will lead to more app developers taking a more active role in women’s issues in the future.
“By sharing the app on social media, we can help the community to become more involved and contribute more, which will help solve their problems and give them hope that their issues will be solved,” he said.
“If you look at the data, the Swatch Bharat has helped women access healthcare, education and other basic services.
We will continue to keep spreading the word about Swatch and make the Swacha Bharat more accessible for women.”