Mobile Help-line for Women Tops Gender and ICT

The GICT Awards 2005 ceremony will be held during the 10th AWID International

Forum on Women's Rights in Development on October 27 to 30, 2005 in Bangkok,

Thailand. A knowledge-sharing session will also be organised in conjunction

with the award ceremony.


The 2005 GICT Awards focused on information and communication technology

initiatives which promote women's economic empowerment and development in

Asia Pacific. Economic empowerment was defined as the ability to overcome

marginalisation and oppressive social norms, provide choices and

opportunities for women, provide strong encouragement for women to fulfil

their potential, and enable women to acquire the voice and capability to

counter their lack of socio-economic-political power in the community.


Emphasising this focus are three major criteria: the use of ICTs to promote

women's economic empowerment and gender equality; upscaling of initiatives

and community-centred technologies; and the promotion of cooperation and

social networking.


GICT AWARDS WINNER: HELPING WOMEN HELP THEMSELVES

The winning project, the Pallitathya Help-Line Centre (Call Centre for the

Poor and Underprivileged), was conceived by the Development through Access to

Network Resources (D.Net) http://www.dnet-bangladesh.org> organisation in

2003. It was based on assessment findings which showed that lack of timely

and relevant information was a major bottleneck to rural development, and a

leading factor in the exploitation of the underprivileged, particularly

women.


The Help-Line deployed women in the community as "Mobile Operator Ladies" who

move from door-to-door to enable other women ---mostly housewives--- to ask

questions related to livelihood, agriculture, health, and legal rights via a

mobile phone, while Help-Desk operators respond to the women's queries with

the use of a database-driven software application and the internet. To expand

the information database, resource persons from government, non-government

organisations, health groups and human rights organisations partnered with

D.Net to provide a steady stream of responses to frequently asked questions.


With women's economic empowerment as its centrepiece, the Pallitathya

Help-Line Centre directly addressed the community's information needs on

health, education, livelihood, employment and agriculture, while keeping the

beneficiaries' anonymity intact. As mobile operator ladies, women were

consciously given a crucial role as "infomediaries," increasing their

self-worth, their potential to earn, and their knowledge about various

issues. Women help-desk operators also enhanced their knowledge of issues and

considerably improved their communication skills. Women who availed of the

Help-Line service professed a higher self-assessment and realisation of their

potential and worth in society, increased incomes, and increased authority

over spending decisions. 


Dr Ananya Raihan, Executive Director of D. Net said in describing his

organisation's reaction to the award, " I saw the light of inspiration in

their eyes. He added, "We would like to go a long way. At this early stage

this  recognition will facilitate us to work more and achieve the ultimate

target".


For its efforts, D.Net's Pallitathya Help-Line Center will receive a cash

prize of US$8,000, while the two runners-up will each receive US$3,000.

Representatives of each project will also be supported to attend the AWID

Forum, where more than 2,000 women's rights activists,  academics, policy

makers and students from all other the world are expected to converge.


GICT AWARDS RUNNERS-UP: BUILDING BUSINESS THROUGH ICTS IN INDIA AND MALAYSIA

"Putting ICTs in the  Hands of the Poor",

http://www.datamationfoundation.org/economic.htm> a theme project of the

Seelampur Community ICT Centre project, is a tripartite alliance among

Datamation Foundation Charitable Trust, the UNESCO, and the

Babul-Uloom-Madrasa, an orthodox Muslim religious school in India. Seelampur

is a Muslim minority ghetto marked by extreme poverty.


A modern ICT centre was set up within the Babul-Uloom-Madrasa to provide a

venue for Muslim women to learn from interactive multimedia packages on

vocational skills, small businesses, and human and legal rights. The ICT

Centre also established support mechanisms in the form of capacity-building,

marketing and financial networking for the women to engage in

income-generating opportunities.


Skills and vocational modules in CDs made available to the women of Seelampur

ranged from  tailoring, embroidery, candle making and liquid soap making to

management of courier and tiffin centres, basic literacy, confidence-building

and personality development. The Centre also established a local community

website called eNRICH http://enrich.nic.in/>, where women get basic computer

training and record their concerns on health, education, livelihood, and

other matters related to the community's needs. 


The eHomemakers of Malaysia,  was founded in 1988 as the "Mothers for Mothers"

network which empowered home workers, teleworkers, home business owners and

those who wanted home-based careers to improve their socio-economic status.

Through the eHomemakers website http://www.ehomemakers.net/en/index.php>,

community members are able to network with each other via the Xchange

section, print newsletters, organise activities to advertise their products

and services for free, teletrade, barter exchange, and find teleworking

assignments, while working within their homes.


Sections such as Homebiz Management, Home-based Profiles, and IT Tips and

Tricks enable women to efficiently work from home, pursue entrepreneurial

ventures, and sustain home businesses. A Forum Board facilitates networking

and exchange of ideas and actual experiences, while experts in business

development and entrepreneurship respond to frequently asked questions. The

eHomemakers network targets women in the low-income group, including

unemployed single mothers with young/disabled children, the disabled and

chronically ill to work at home, through the strategic use of ICTs.   


GENDER AND ICT AWARDS 2005

The GICT Awards 2005 http://www.genderawards.net/> was open to civil society

organisations, community-based groups, networks and social movements in Asia

Pacific, with women, particularly, girls, as target beneficiaries. The Awards

were founded in 2003.


Sponsors

The Association for Progressive Communications Women's Networking Support

Programme (APC WNSP) is a global network of women who support women

networking for  social change and women's empowerment through the use of ICTs

http://www.apcwomen.org/>.


The Global Knowledge Partnership (GKP) is the leading international

multi-stakeholder network committed to harnessing the potential of

information and communication technologies (ICT) for sustainable and

equitable development. Ranging from grassroots practitioners to

policy-makers, GKP members and partners are innovators in the practical use

of ICT for development http://www.globalknowledge.org/>.


The Gender and ICT Awards is supported by the the Swiss Agency for Development

and Cooperation (SDC) http://www.sdc.admin.ch/> and the Department for

International Development (DfID), United Kingdom http://www.dfid.gov.uk/>.


For more information about the Awards, please write to:

Mylene Soto

Coordinator



Mylene Soto

Coordinator

Add new comment