Since 2016, UNDP in Armenia teamed up with the EU-supported Kolba Innovations Lab to mainstream innovation practices not only among active citizens, but also public sector in Armenia. Kolba is an outward-facing platform that acts as a network to facilitate the connection of ideas, groups and initiatives. Through Kolba Lab UNDP Armenia has been conducting innovation programs that has become a platform where one of the most vivid gender equality output has been achieved through the internal idea competitions inside the Government of Armenia.
Public servants are usually busy completing their routine tasks, there is neither a set-up mechanism that would help them to generate and promote new ideas to address some challenges, nor time or internal organizational culture of doing this. Thus, in order to unleash the innovation capacity of public servants, Kolba Lab has initiated idea challenges inside three agencies – Ministry of Education and Science, Ministry of Justice and Prime Minister’s Office.
Public servants were asked to suggest ideas on optimizing internal processes and creating better communication channels with the citizenry. As a result, 60 ideas were submitted by 44 public servants, 14 men and 31 women, for further scrutiny of professionals and mentors. 6 out of these 60 were supported by Kolba Lab and implemented as policy start-ups in the heart of the government. They included new one-stop shop solutions, accountability measures and gamified education platforms. Eventually, 5 out of 6 winning policy start-ups were generated by women.
Moreover, following the successful implementation of the two policy start-ups inside the Ministry of Justice, the Minister has established an in-house Department of Innovation, which is led by the two women-innovators, who implemented the startups.
The ideas include but are not limited to, optimizing the request process of childcare allowances (Ministry of Justice of Armenia) that has reduced the waiting time from 20-30 days to only 10, by digitizing most part of the procedure. Similarly, the creation of competitive professional task force on Armenian labour market is designed to help high school children and new graduates to navigate through the hardships of graduate life and make the right decisions before settling into adulthood (Ministry of Education). A special online platform is in the works, that will serve as an online mentor and guide for users.
An interesting solution was also created to address the accessibility gap of information in food safety legislation. For these purposes, a Chatbot tool was introduced, which will automatically reply with relevant extracts from the legislation to users’ inquiries, that will result in saving considerable time on going through the entire legislation from the beginning.
All of the above-mentioned ideas were put forward by women. This proves that when conditions are created where there is an equal opportunity for both men and women to have an input, the outcome goes wider than expected and encourages more women to participate, regardless the programmatic area.