10 ways in which ICTs can transform the lives of rural women

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10 ways in which ICTs can transform the lives of rural women

What is the role of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), media and digital technologies in empowering women and girls? Rural women make significant contributions to their communities in a variety of ways. ICTs have the potential to give rural women and girls access to tools that can make their jobs easier and their contributions more widely and fully felt.

1) In the least developed countries, only 40 per cent of women have access to a mobile phone, and only 14 per cent have access to the Internet. At the least, mobile devices and Internet access will allow women to catch up with the current rapid advancement of technology and growth of information and will greatly improve their digital literacy.

2) ICTs give rural women access to mobile-based agricultural information services that provide them with agricultural production tips and best practices, weather forecasting, and other helpful information, such as how to deal with pests. These services allow them to produce a greater amount of higher quality food more efficiently.

3) ICTs carry the potential to increase the financial capability and literacy of rural women by giving them access to mobile-based banking, extension and financial services.

4) ICTs provide rural women with yet another mobile-based service: market information. Market information services allow women to access the market digitally as well as learn how to navigate the market in order to get the most in return for their products.

5) ICTs give rural women the ability to promote their products independently (e.g. without using a middleman). This makes rural women direct decision-makers in the handling and marketing of their products and allows them to build their own brand.

10 ways in which ICTs can transform the lives of rural women

6) Through ICTs, rural women can contact all actors involved in the production, transportation and sale of their products. They can question, suggest and veto ideas, thereby establishing a standard of two-way communication that allows them greater control over the fruits of their labour.

7) ICTs such as rural radio and mobile phone networks can enable women smallholders to achieve more equitable access to formal and informal education and training for themselves and for their families.

8) ICT channels and devices, such as smartphones, social media, and community radio, can help foster network building and facilitate access to employment opportunities.

9) Access to ICTs allows women to create and personalize their own platforms. This is important because many existing platforms and apps do not serve the needs of rural women and do not account for language and literacy barriers.

10) Perhaps, most importantly, ICTs unite rural women. It provides them with opportunities to organize for collective action and to participate more fully in decision-making processes.