For those Bangladeshi villagers, who were unaware previously about the existence of internet and what it was all about until few years ago, life has literally changed for them today! Internet, now, comes to them riding on a bicycle and, it has made the lives of some people considerably easier- especially those of women.
The presence of internet has benefitted the women who live in villages while it also has had an impact on the lives of those females who bring it to them, riding on bicycles and carrying laptops. They are the “Info Ladies” who have made it possible for thousands of villagers to enjoy online facilities like those offered by the government or whether to reconnect with a relative, living on distant lands, through chatting on Skype or other portals like Yahoo and MSN Messenger. For a country with only about 5 million or more people with efficient accessibility of the internet, this step sure looks promising, for the present at least!
Back in 2008, few associations joined together and decided to take the initiative which they called the ‘Info Ladies project’ with the sole purpose of bringing about a positive change technologically in rural Bangladesh. For this project, they took inspiration from the program ‘Mobile Ladies’ which was launched by Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus in 2004 and brought about recognition and extensive usage of cell phones in the majority of Bangladeshi villages.
Today, the number of women working under the ‘Info Ladies’ project is not too high but, in future, the group of organizations are looking forward to increasing this figure with the help of funds from the government and those Bangladeshis living or working abroad. At the moment, nearly sixty women are employed who tend to cover about 19 districts of Bangladesh. With more recognition for this attempt, it is expected that the number of Info Ladies will be around 15,000 by the year 2016!
The recruitment process of one such worker is not lengthy- there is a three month long training arranged for the employee to learn the process of using computers, printers and how the internet can be used for daily needs. Besides the training, the worker is also arranged some credit to buy a bicycle and the necessary apparatus.
This project has made way for unemployed women to earn their own living while, at the same time, the people living in villages can now themselves enjoy those same benefits online which any city dweller enjoys – online banking, filling up the passport form online, applying for any government-related services like pension and special funds for the freedom fighters or either fill-up the application forms for any college or university.
The Info Lady charges a fair amount for this service in takas. As per one such woman who is involved directly with this initiative, every month, women get to earn much more than what they would have earned had they been school teachers. Even after paying the loan taken to buy bicycles and other equipments, the worker can take home, on a monthly basis, an amount which is more than ten thousand takas.
Such initiatives are what that Bangladesh needs at the moment. This opportunity does not only makes the Info Lady earn her own bread but, it also allows her to contribute in making the village women more aware about the outside world and issues like sexual harassment, dowry, under-age marriage, hygiene and HIV. Amader Kotha would like to congratulate D.Net and the team, which decided to give birth to such an exciting idea that has made the Bangladeshi villages a more aware place today!