virtual presentation Subrata S Satapathy ICT and Rural Women

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International Conference on Social Sciences


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Information and Communication Technologies:   An agent of Social Change for Rural Women in Odisha   :

Subrata S Satapathy PG Dept. of Sociology, Utkal University, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India Email: [email protected] Contact: 91-9937859079   Information and Communication Technologies:   An agent of Social Change for Rural Women in Odisha   International Conference on Social Sciences 25th -26th March 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka

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The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), held in 2003 in Geneva, saw ICTs as vital tools for women’s empowerment: “ We are committed to ensuring that the Information Society enables women’s empowerment and their full participation on the basis of equality in all spheres of society and in all decision-making processes. To this end, we should mainstream a gender equality perspective and use ICTs as a tool to that end ”.


INTRODUCTION The modern day civilization is characterized by the powerful and prolific force of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT). The expansion and proliferation of ICTs have picked up the swiftness for economic and social change, across all areas of human activity worldwide. ICTs facilitate in interactive communication unimpeded by space and time, volume and medium as well as are pocket friendly as they lessen the cost of communication and information processing.

Context: :

Context: Digital Divide- Hampering easy access to ICTs Patriarchal norms, power relations and predominance of English as the medium of information broadcasting - generate roadblocks for illiterate and unskilled women Domestic responsibilities, cultural restrictions on mobility, lesser economic power as well as lack of relevance of content to their lives, further marginalize them from the information sector. Major challenge for the government – successful permeation of the impact of ICTs.

Women and ICT- Key Challenges: (To sum up):

Women and ICT- Key Challenges: (To sum up) Awareness: hardly aware of the technologies, its functioning and benefits. Access and affordability: cost factor and hard to reach. Capacity and skills: no enabling framework to build and develop (or enhance) their skills. Linguistic barriers and content: content is gender biased and language is mostly English, not readable and understood by poor rural women.

Issues raised in the paper:

Issues raised in the paper Who are the ‘real’ beneficiaries of the ICTs? Who is monopolizing the course of ICTs? What are the impediments of ICT use and penetration? Is there an opportunity (or possibility) to bind ICTs to dole out bigger and definitely significant goals of equality and justice? Issue of gender and women’s equal right to access, use and shape ICTs.

Theoretical background:

Theoretical background Hafkin and Taggart (2001) , a digital impartiality is prominent and surfaces in three ways: (1) few women are rarely involved in the needs assessment of ICTs for development; (2) attitudes were that high-end information technology ‘is not for women’ who are still being treated as passive recipients of information and not as active information users and communicators; and (3) there is considerable delay in addressing the limitations faced by women in accessing supposedly ‘public’ information spaces, or even private sector initiatives such as cyber-cafes.



Why ICT for rural women?:

Why ICT for rural women? Educational opportunities outside the village Job opportunities in both formal and informal sectors Government assistance programs for career advancement within the restriction of traditions Health services including sexual reproductive health Knowledge on modern child care facilities Legal provisions to counter sexual harassment, domestic violence and social injustice.

Women in odisha: a socio-economic profile:

Women in odisha : a socio-economic profile Odisha - considered as one of the backward and underdeveloped states in India Health Higher female IMR than the male IMR in the urban and tribal populations, in the post neo-natal and in the 1-4 age groups [boys-29.9 & girls-37.8]. Women suffer from low BMI rates and anemia declining sex ratio in the state, high infant mortality rate, low nutritional level for girl children, health and well being of women in age group of 19-59 years, care and protection of elderly women above 60 years are the areas of concern

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Literacy: (2011, Census of India) Male Literacy : 81.59 % Female Literacy :62.46 % Drop out rates high among girls than boys Girls are not allowed to move out of village for pursuing higher studies. Work Participation Rate (WPR): Women WPR Odisha : 41 per cent against national average of 39 per cent (2011 Census) Women workers absorbed in the unorganized sector that is plagued with poor or irregular wages, no structured work environment, no labour union to voice the issues of the women workers etc. As most of them are engaged in work that falls in the unpaid category, hence, the work goes unrecognized

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  Crime against Women: increasing trend of crime against women in the state that occurs not only in the public domain but within the four walls of the home The number of rape cases registered has increased from 207 in 1989 to 816 in 1999 and then subsequently decreasing. Dowry cases, which include dowry, related murders, suicides and torture cases, have shown an exponential growth over 500% and in 2002 the cases totaled to 1503. Large shares of the dowry cases relate to dowry torture cases. Non-dowry torture is a separate category of cases being registered, which also has a phenomenal increase with 177 cases in 1989 to 524 in 2002.

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Political Representation: Many women reeling under the challenges of decision making process, actively indulging in the political sphere, contesting in more numbers etc. Reluctant even absolutely not ready to participate in the entire election procedure. Face great obstacles from even their own families, apart from others in the society. No kind of a support system or a favorable environment has been provided to them to take advantage of the benefits granted to them by our Constitution. Incidents of violence and manipulation by their political opponents and other vested interests continue to hamper women’s political empowerment in Odisha

ICT as Tool for Women’s Right to Development:

ICT as Tool for Women’s Right to Development Livelihoods Rural women may be exposed to new opportunities. Internet-based initiatives would cut out the middle-man. Poor women constrained by pressures of time and mobility would be able to assess and aggregate market demand by e-trading. Evolve cost-effective mechanisms to increase business turnover by making the most of business networking. Success Stories: ‘Inter-city Marketing Network of Women Entrepreneurs’ project in Chennai, India and Dairy Information System Kiosk (DISK), in Gujarat, India

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Health Information tools like CD ROMs, databases and mobile ICT devices can enhance public health delivery. Enable health education and information dissemination. Bring communities and health facilities closer to each other Offer simple solutions for collecting and analysing information about disease Help health interventions become more locally relevant. Success Stories: Kalyani , a programme on health communication in India, is telecast over Doordarshan in nine of the most backward and populous states of India in 3 languages and 14 dialects, targeting approximately 50% of India’s population. Odisha being one of the states.

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Education Deliver education content to the doorstep (open and distance learning by IGNOU). Allow the process and content of education to be determined by learner preferences and priorities (locally relevant). Girls, otherwise constrained by patriarchal customs, are able to explore different possibilities with computers and learn things they like at their own pace. Success Stories: Azim Premji Foundation in India is among the few NGOs that work with the government to strengthen the public education system. The organisation produces CD ROMs of creative content based on the primary school curriculum, which is gender-sensitive, uses local dialects and is designed to appeal to rural students.

To Conclude::

To Conclude: Rural women in Odisha face significant disadvantages in information, communication, transactions, access to services, access to skills and education, access to earning and employment opportunities and “voice”. There is lack of comprehensive sex disaggregated ICT data in the state. However, the available data on access to and use of ICTs that are available indicate that women’s participation in the information society lags behind that of men.

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Women in rural hinterlands of the state are less likely to own communication assets, such as a radio or mobile phone. They less likely to allot their earnings to use in public communication facilities, except when they need to communicate with family or to arrange for income transfers. Unwilling to visit “cyber cafes” or public internet centres , which are often owned by men and visited by men. Multiple roles and heavy domestic responsibilities limit the time they can allocate to learning and using ICTs

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ICT Initiatives in Odisha have been undertaken and the state also has an ICT Policy implemented since 2004. But to utter disappointment, there are still hundreds of rural women who are untouched, un-served and devoid from the utilities and benefits of ICT Despite much support for the diffusion of ICTs in rural areas, gender disparity in access to ICT services continues, much to women’s participation.

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Even when women and men have equal access to the internet either through home, work or school, women may not have the opportunity to access the Internet. In many districts of the state, men use mobile phones more frequently than women. Men also used public kiosks more frequently than women and they also travelled to access phones more often. Socio-cultural attitudes differentiate against women’s access to technology and technology oriented education

Possible way out::

Possible way out: There is an emergent concord that the impact of ICTs is not gender neutral. Need is of an engendered approach (affirmative direction to include gender concerns and realities) to ICT based projects It is imperative to identify the existing barriers that hinder the use, access, ownership and control of ICTs for the rural women in state. They could be related to ‘gender-socialization’ and cultural patterns or information availability and adequacy of content.

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