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Small tech grants, big differences for women (rural women)


Women in rural areas play a central role in the agricultural economy of their region, which means that they often work long hours, leaving little time for learning how to use new technologies. Yet, accesses to new technologies affect both men and women in remote areas. Small grants that made big changes for women in agriculture…

Access to new information and communications technologies (ICTs) affects both men and women living in remote areas. Governments and the telecommunications sector do not priorities infrastructure in rural areas because the population is generally poor and dispersed. Efforts to roll out infrastructure and training are focused in urban areas where the population is more concentrated and the profits more immediate and reliable. However, for women living in rural areas, access to ICTs means first overcoming multiple barriers relating not only to their location, but also their gender… Women play a central role in the agricultural economy, which means that their hours of work are long, leaving little time for learning how to use new technologies. Women cannot migrate as easily as men to towns and cities where training in new technologies is more available. Apart from agricultural production, women rather than men have the added responsibilities of caring for children and the elderly. In many communities cultural attitudes disallow women from visiting public access points, often because they are frequented by men or because women are not allowed out of their homes without being accompanied by men… Girls and women generally have lower levels of education and literacy and are not encouraged to pursue schooling, particularly not in the technology fields. In most rural communities, women have far less political and economic power than their male counterparts. The various components of ICTs – the software, the keyboards, the information online and the training materials – are not available in local languages. And most aspects of new technologies are not culturally intuitive. Even radio (and increasingly the mobile phone), perhaps the most ubiquitous communications devices in many rural areas, are often not accessible to women. Men control the radio dial and usually own the radio and the mobile phone... These all add up to multiple and formidable barriers which constrain and limit rural women’s ability to harness new technologies in their lives, and to access vital information shared via ICTs: information that could impact on improving agricultural production, fluctuations in market prices, pensions and child care grants, news on political changes that could affect their lives, as well as health and support services. The urban and gender bias in connectivity deprives many rural women, more so than men, of the universal and fundamental right to communicate… Development programs aimed at agriculture and food security realized long ago that to centralize ICTs adds tremendous potential for improving rural livelihoods. They further recognized that a gender-sensitive approach to the design and implementation of initiatives is fundamental to their success. The lives of rural women and men can improve through access to technologies. By demonstrating in tangible ways women’s huge contribution to agriculture and household income and the positive increase in livelihoods, gender relations are improved and women’s role in communities more valued…

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Comment by Partha das on August 22, 2014 at 4:09am

nice platform for learning from a woman entrepreneur.

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