MOBILE HELP-LINE FOR WOMEN TOPS GENDER
AND ICT AWARDS 2005
Manila, Philippines, September 22, 2005--Pallitathya,
an innovative Mobile Help-Line programme via cell phones for underprivileged
women in rural Bangladesh beat thirty other entries from all over
the Asia-Pacific to win this year's Gender and Information &
Communication Technology (GICT) Awards sponsored by the Association
for Progressive Communications Women's Networking Support Programme
(APC WNSP) and the Global
Knowledge Partnership (GKP).
Two other projects were selected as runners
up: Putting ICTs in the Hands of the Poor, an interactive community
ICT centre in India; and eHomemakers, a network for home-based
business from Malaysia. 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
|At the Global Knowledge Partnership awards
night during the World Summit on the Informaton Society (WSIS)
on 15 November 2005 in Tunis, Tunisia. Chong Sheau Ching of
eHomemakers, Walter Fust of the Swiss Development and Cooperation
Agency (SDC), Ananya Raihan of D. Net and Sarita Sharma of
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) 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,
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
ICTs in the Hands of the Poor", 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
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.
of Malaysia, was founded in 1998 as the "Mothers for
Mothers" network which empowers home workers, teleworkers,
home business owners and those who want home-based careers to
improve their socio-economic status. Through the eHomemakers
website, community members are able to network with each other
via the Xchange section, 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
GENDER AND ICT AWARDS 2005
The GICT Awards 2005
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.
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.
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.
The Gender and ICT Awards is supported
by the Swiss Agency for Development
and Cooperation (SDC) and the Department
for International Development (DfID), United Kingdom. For
more information about the Awards, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org,