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ICT Success Stories

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ICTs for EMPOWERMENT


The ICT initiatives showcased below illustrate efforts to (re)build communities, responding to local needs and expectations. Providing opportunities for individual and social accomplishment accessible to all citizens, ICTs are valuable means of empowering individuals and communities. Through ICTs, opportunities for people are rapidly expanding in many fields, such as education, entrepreneurship and community development. By enabling people to communicate – freely, openly, in many different ways - technology can be a strong catalyst for creativity and innovation. Moreover, ICTs can boost solutions to poverty and oppression, helping people to help themselves and giving greater opportunities to people to choose their own way in life and shape their future.

ICT stories from the field


 A Voice for People with Disabilities- Nepal

Success Strategy: People with disabilities now have the opportunity to voice their issues via the Community Multimedia Centres (CMCs) in Nepal. This came through a training workshop on audio production and new technologies. This training held at the Lumbini CMC in Manigram is part of the UNESCO CMC pilot project. The workshop aims that the voices of people with disabilities should be heard for social inclusion and integration. The workshop also focuses on how information and knowledge should be used as a tool to create awareness among people with disabilities.

At the end of the training there was the participants’ feedback through the production of two half hour audio programmes. At the end of the training, participants are expected to broadcast new audio programmes on radio in their various CMCs in the districts of Nepal. These programmes are to last for half an hour and be broadcast once a week. The programmes are produced by the people with disabilities with some assistance from other CMC workers.

The CMCs aims to bring ICTs within the reach of the people with disabilities. The CMC in Lumbini began a three months course in basic computing skills and internet training for physically challenged people.

Target group: People with disabilities

Source: United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)

Organiser: United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)


  ICTs for blind Ethiopian youths

Success Strategy: ICT equipments were donated to Wolaito Soddo boarding school for the blind. The equipments include 7 computers equipped with an adaptive software  supporting Amharic – the Ethiopian official language ,and two flatbed  scanners all presented  by United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), International Telecommunications Union (ITU) , Adaptive Technology Center for the Blind (ATCB) and Wolaito Soddo Boarding School for the Blind (WSBSB).

The first stage of the project was the donation of the ICT equipments adapted for the visually impaired to the school. The second phase will entail the training of 5 blind teachers in the relevant computing skills to operate the special equipment adapted to people with such needs including the use of a specialized printer for producing Braille output.

 The project has encouraged the staff of the school to independently produce educational materials in Braille which will be used in the course of their teaching.

The equipment donation will allow the staff and students to gain skills in ICT. Also the ability to self produce these learning materials pose a tremendous opportunity for the schools sustenance and for the benefit of other schools nearby.

Source: United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

Partners: United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), International Telecommunications Union (ITU), Adaptive Technology Center for the Blind (ATCB), Wolaito Soddo Boarding School for the Blind (WSBSB)


 Sharda – India

Success strategy: Sharda is an innovative approach to bring students to school by using ICTs for facilitating learning and increasing student's interest and motivation. The project is targeting urban poor children living in slums and LIG group community. By the end of 2006, under the project have been established 487 computer learning centres in municipal primary schools in Delhi and a number of students are now learning through computers. The network is made possible by the work of 500 education volunteers and 2'500 PCs working under Linux OS. The project aims to bridge the digital divide and build the confidence of the under-privileged communities by providing them with equal learning opportunities, in particular in math and languages.  

Partners: The project is being implemented by the Municipal departments of education in Delhi, HCL Infosystems, Azim Prem Ji Foundation and Red Hat.

Source: the NICT website and an online questionnaire sent by Hajela Mukesh in October 2006


 Vanasthali Rural Development Centre (VRDC)- India

Success Strategy: Established in Pune, India in December 1981, Vanasthali Rural Development Centre (VRDC) offers a 6-month teacher training programme to semi-educated village women in 8 districts of Maharashtra, India. The purpose of VRDC is to enable trainees to open balwadis (nurseries) in their villages, taking education to the doorsteps of rural children. The ultimate aim is to make it possible for these children to begin school or to deter them from dropping out. In addition to providing basic educational facilities to those living in remote areas, the programme is an effort to build up a pool of trained, self-confident women who can become role models and change-makers in their communities.

The programme goes beyond training rural women to become teachers; it also functions as an empowerment tool for women as mediators in their villages. Organisers strive to help these women have the confidence, through education, to take over a new role of village focal points and facilitators inspiring others to pursue literacy and who deal with local governing bodies.

So far, VRDC has trained more than 10,000 women.

Target group: Women

Partners: Vanasthali Rural Development Centre (VRDC)

Source: The Communication Initiative and InfoChange News & Features


 Empowering Mayan Women

Success Strategy: In 1997, Padma Guidi, an international advocate and trainer for empowering women, launched the Centro de Mujeres Communicadoras Mayas (CMCM) to help bring ICTs to the remote village in Solola, Guatemala.  The project, known as Nutzij (“my word” in Mayan), empowers indigenous women by providing them with hands-on training in video production and using the internet.  Specifically, Nutzij, which is run by a collective of young Mayan women, seeks to help women develop the skills to preserve their community’s cultural heritage on video and market the content to the world via the internet.  Nutzij offers culturally relevant information relating to education, agriculture, health and the environment.

From her past experience of helping women in India and Czechoslovakia, Ms Guidi understood the effectiveness of using video and the internet to preserve the uniqueness of marginalized communities in an era of globalization.  Given the lack of attention paid to the educational needs of the Mayan population, particularly those of women, Ms Guidi saw video as a way to allow women to contribute to the social and economic evolution of their communities.  She said, “seeing is believing, and videos made by the indigenous community can bring information in people’s own languages and in images they can recognize and relate to.” This was her vision for Nutzij.  By capturing stories from the community on video, Nutzij has made women a central component for preserving cultural knowledge for future generations.

Although the widespread benefits that it brought to the Solola community, Nutzij has consistently ran into funding difficulties throughout its implementation.  To address this obstacle, the administrators created co-production workshops for foreign communication students who would pay for their participation to help supplement the project’s operations.  Beyond funding, Nutzij also faced linguistic (most websites are published in English), electricity and infrastructure hurdles.  Moreover, women are also restrained by the social norms that inhibit their involvement in training and other group activities.  Despite the social, infrastructure and economic hurdles, the project has proved to be an effective mechanism for helping to cultivate the human capacities of Mayan women in this remote, isolated community.  Perhaps most importantly, Nutzij has helped to demystify ICTs, while also offering a replicable and sustainable method for cultural preservation and social development.  Information was gathered from the Rockefeller Foundation’s comprehensive global study on Participatory Communication for Social Change. 

For more information: see the Rockefeller Foundation website


 Tenant Spin - UK

Success strategy: Hit by the decline in sea transport in the 1970s, Liverpool has seen a massive programme of regeneration in recent years. But for most people living in tower blocks outside the city centre, regeneration is still a distant dream. Life in Liverpool is changing as these tower blocks are demolished and new buildings are created. In an ambitious plan to combat social exclusion that is backed by more than ten agencies, a number of Liverpool's tenant communities have been supplied with a computer and have joined the Superchannel online network.  Now their own internet TV channel is empowering some of the tenants, giving them new skills and a forum for discussing the issues affecting them.

Superchannel

The Superchannel is a tool that enables people, organisations and communities to produce interactive internet-TV, directly engaging users in the creation and evolution of content. It is a network of independent channels run by people, local communities, and organisations that use media for communication, discussion and presentation. Currently there are 30 channels and 1356 shows.

The channels represented on the Superchannel are all associated with one or more local broadcasting studios. The studios function as gathering places - attracting people to come and meet each other, create media and get involved.

All shows are broadcast at the Superchannel website where an open chat forum enables viewers, participants and producers to discuss the current shows.  After the live broadcast the shows are saved in the Superchannel archive. The archive allows people to watch previous broadcasts, while the discussion forum stays open to promote continued debate and discussion. The opening of the internet-TV channel is supervised and executed from Superchannel's HQ in Copenhagen.

Tenant Spin

Tenant Spin is a channel transmitted on the internet-based Superchannel. It aims to promote resident participation in regeneration and social housing issues through constructive debate and shared experience.

Liverpool's HAT tenants produce the programmes, presenting a range of subjects that are generally community-driven such as features on anti-social behaviour, hi-tech homes, tenants' rights and care.

To set up your own channel, one just needs to buy a license, which is inexpensive compared to most normal providers. It costs approximately £3000 in the first year to run a permanent channel. This provides access to a content management system that allows producers to have their own channel, with profile, archive, subchannels or theme channels etc. The amateur producer is able to stream 24 hour a day, scheduling, discussion forums for each show and channel. You can submit a proposal to Superchannel on line, via their website who can help with ideas, strategies and pricing.

Since then, more than 20 studies have opened in different locations and another five channels in England have started with more planned in Manchester, Birmingham, Wales and New Zealand. Superchannel and Tenantspin are forums in which community members can develop their skills and confidence to express themselves creatively. Moreover, all community members benefit from being able to connect with each other through the medium of the internet, TV and radio.

Target group: Middle and lower class citizens living in suburban areas in UK

Partners: Liverpool Housing Action Trust (HAT), High Rise Tenants Group, UK's Foundation for Art and Creative Technology (FACT, Danish artist group Superflex in collaboration with American programmer Sean Treadway

Source: UNDP Equator Initiative website

For more information: see the Superchannel website and Tenant Spin website


 Conflict Prevention and Integration Program - Georgia

Success Strategy: The Conflict Prevention and Integration Program in Samtskhe-Javakheti, Georgia is designed to reduce tension and prevent conflict through activities related to language education, information flows and media development, legal assistance and legal information and management of inter-ethnic relations. The program’s objective is to strengthen the public's access to legal information and policymakers' skills in minority legal issues, by improving the professionalism of journalism and the availability of Georgian news programmes in Samstkhe-Javakheti.

Partners: Canadian International Development Agency - CIDA

Source: WSIS Stocktaking Database


 Local Radio Stations in Mali

Success Strategy: Although there are a variety of ICT-related development initiatives currently under way in Mali, the most successful medium to date has been the radio.  By creating local radio stations throughout the country, everyone, everywhere, whether literate or illiterate, can listen to broadcasts and learn about their community and the world. 

For more information: see http://www7.itu.int/itudfg7/fg7/CaseLibrary/ShowSummary.asp?contrib=45


  Sexual Abuse Centre in Christchurch – New Zealand

Success Strategy: The Sexual Abuse Centre is a Not-for-Profit organisation supporting Rape and Incest survivors, both female and male, throughout the Canterbury, New Zealand region. It is an established entity of the not-for-profit sector since 1991. Developing a website has brought many unexpected benefits for the Sexual Abuse Centre in Christchurch and has made them part of a global network of service providers to survivors of sexual abuse. The Sexual Abuse Centre is a place of counseling and support with a focus on healing and thriving and the website reflects this vocation. It reveals as a mainstream tool to access information by people and for the centre as a quick, efficient and effective tool with important potential to disseminate written material quickly and to a wider audience.

The website has a feedback page to ascertain that provided information is useful or not to people. It showed that it has been well utilized, not only by New Zealanders but by survivors and other allied professionals throughout the world. Throughout the working process, a need occurred to establish relationships with other professionals in other parts of the world. The Centre is involved closely with the FBI around child protection and child abuse issues and have had a number of US survivor’s cases resolved by the FBI’s intervention. The competent staff has worked with a number of people around legal issues pertinent to their country, particularly in the UK, and has contacts to help them do that. The website has also helped and assisted allied professionals with information and support in setting up survivor based programmes & groups in such areas of the world as Indonesia, Africa and Europe.

The website has been assessed by the centre people as an incredibly useful tool for their work. “ … it has made our small world here in Christchurch truly part of a global community providing the highest quality services to survivors of sexual abuse and rape no matter what part of the world they are in.”, ascertain the centre staff.

Target group: Victims of sexual abuse

Partners: Sexual Abuse Centre

Source: the website of the activity and CommunityNet Aotearoa website


 Connecting Communities - New Zealand

Success strategy: Connecting Communities is an ambitious New Zealand government strategy to enable individuals and communities to participate fully in the economic, social, educational, cultural and democratic opportunities available in the information society. The strategy was developed on the premise that improving community access to ICT is a responsibility shared by central and local government, the philanthropic, voluntary and private sectors, as well as by the communities themselves.

The strategy sets out seven axis for government action through working with communities to develop guides to assist communities in:

  • Planning for ICT Co-ordinating government assistance to community ICT initiatives

  • Strengthening those non-government organisations that provide support to communities working to address their ICT needs

  • Creating a research and evaluation programme for community ICT

  • Identifying training for community advisers to enable them to support community ICT development

  • Building partnerships and relationships with all funders involved with community.

ICT to gain maximum leverage from new and existing initiatives.

Target group: New Zealand Government, Connecting Communities – New Zealand

Source: WSIS Stocktaking Database


 Network of Entrepreneurship & Economic Development (NEED) - India

Success Strategy: Aiming to generate economic wealth while also mobilising the community to speak out to challenge social ills, NEED works at the grassroots level to help those living in poverty form self-help groups (SHGs). Since 1995, approximately 30,000 micro-groups have been formed through NEED's facilitation. NEED's project "Empowering the Rural Poor, especially Women, through building local 'Women Owned' Organizations, Creation of Network Platforms and Opportunity and Enhancing Human Resource Development in a Sustainable Manner" mobilises women and promotes entrepreneurial activities through SHGs.

One ongoing NEED programme uses the internet as a marketing tool. As part of its effort to form and strengthen grassroots groups, NEED trains SHGs to produce and sell their own handicrafts by building women's vocational and marketing skills. NEED provides training in various crafts based on a woman's existing skills, talents, interests, and resources. These women are primarily from poor, dispossessed, marginalised, or unreached sectors.

Partners: Network of Entrepreneurship & Economic Development (NEED)

Source: The Communication Initiative website and the NEED website


 Local e-Governance in India

Success strategy: Beginning in 1997 with the State-level Informatics System for Strengthening the Decentralized Plan Implementation (SLIDE), government decision-makers throughout India realized the important role that ICTs would play in modern governance.  Focused on creating efficient and responsive mechanisms for governance at the local level, the SLIDE project employed a variety of ICTs to help local institutions mitigate the transition to a decentralized governing system that is unique to the State.  The project, which has evolved into what is now known as the Information Kerala Mission, seeks to computerize and establish a wide area network (WAN) to connect the 1,215 local governing bodies throughout the state government.  

For more in-depth information: see the Information Kerala Mission case study


 Woomera 2002: A Case Study in e-activism

Success Strategy: The right combination of innovative internet technology and careful online and offline coordination can make a powerful statement and effect great change.

On 28 March 2002, over 1,000 activists converged on a windswept patch of the Australian desert outside the Woomera Refugee Camp. They had come from throughout Australia, Japan and the United Kingdom to protest at the harsh confinement of asylum seekers who had arrived on Australia’s shores without proper documentation. Through an effective online campaign, the world’s attention was turned upon the issue of treatment of refugees. In April, the Woomera Detention Centre was permanently closed.

Woomera2002 was an example of a successful online campaign. It used innovative internet technology to greatly amplify the effects of the protest and involve people internationally. Its broadcasting was fast and fluid, favoring large quantities of uncensored information produced by a large group of people and all the online activity was simultaneously mirrored by real-world protests with concrete results.

For more information: see  www.dfn.org


 eHomemakers Network - Malaysia

Success Strategy: eHomemakers is built on the premise that marginalised Malaysian women can use information and communication technologies (ICTs) to generate income from home, supporting their active participation in the information economy. Designed to enable homeworkers and homemakers to teletrade, network, and support each other through creative problem-solving and idea-sharing, an trilingual e-community offers services such as a platform to enable online product marketing. On-the-ground activities geared toward those who do not have easy access to ICTs include training sessions and conferences for lifelong learning and community outreach and contests for home-based business ideas. eHomemakers promotes working from home as a means to balance work and family life and conducts research projects such as "Empowering Homemakers to become Homepreneurs and eHomemakers through a Gender Governance Framework".

Initially, a static website (www.mom4mom.com) was built to meet the needs of mothers and homemakers by providing them with a platform to access information and to network. Over time, the network realised that the static website could not support the growing needs of members who wanted a more dynamic platform with interactive features. Thanks to the Grant, eHomemakers website was developed.

This trilingual portal was created to link homemakers and homeworkers all over Malaysia into an e-community, bound together by common interests in parenthood, homemaking and issues related to economic, social, family, and gender development. Designed to enable homeworkers and homemakers to teletrade, network, and support each other through creative problem-solving and idea-sharing, the portal offers services such as a forum, chat room, e-cards and a platform called Home-based Xchange for homemakers and home workers to market their products and services. All of these services are provided free of charge to members. These e-activities are complemented by on-the-ground activities geared toward those who do not have easy access to ICTs. These initiatives include training sessions and conferences for life-long learning and community outreach, annual Mother's Day contests, and contests for home-based business ideas.

Partners: Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development; the Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment provided a one-year grant.

Grant: Demonstrator Application Grant from the Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment, 2001

Source: the eHomemakers website and The Communication Initiative website


 Women's Pirate Radio

Success Strategy: In the mid-1970s, the women's movement, particularly in Western Europe, used pirate radio (low power unlicensed broadcasting) to strengthen the visibility of women's issues. Feminist groups in several European countries became forerunners in the development of "free radio".

Radio Donna in Rome, Les Nanas Radioteuses in Paris and Radio Pleine Lune in Ferney-Voltaire in France along the Swiss border, were some of the earlier experiments with local radio.

Radio programmes were made on a variety of issues seldom considered in conventional radio programming. Abortion, for example, then virtually a taboo topic, was raised by the female radio pirates.

Women's sexuality, prostitution, migration and trafficking were also raised in community radio. Programmes produced on these themes would not otherwise be broadcast by government or commercial stations. Or, if they were, the coverage was distorted in ways that put the blame on the women themselves.

Source: Mail from John Lawrence to the bytesforall_readers@yahoogroups.com mailing list and the Gender and ICT Report, by Anita Gurumurthy (BRIDGE)


 Women to Web - Germany

Success Strategy: In 1998 Brigitte, a women's magazine decided to go online. However, a survey revealed that less than 20 per cent of internet users were female.

The publishers at Brigitte and the other stakeholders decided to introduce internet courses for women. The internet course campaign was named Women to Web.

In 1998, the pilot project began in four business centres of the Deutsche Telekom. Female internet trainers from Women Computer Schools provided the capacity building.

Targets were set as follows:

  • to increase the quota of women using the internet to at least 50 per cent;

  • to introduce internet at a low cost to those with no access to this technology;

  • to provide a relaxing environment in which women can access the internet;

  • to show women how much fun the World Wide Web can be and how to use it for communication, entertainment purposes,   information and further education;

  • to motivate women to discover the usefulness of the internet for their daily life and to participate in the information society.

Since the project's inception, 15,000 internet courses held in over 300 cities and villages had benefit to 130,000 women. These opportunities have been extended to rural areas, and especially to parts of the former East Germany. The most obvious impact of the project is that the number of female internet users has doubled from under 20 per cent to over 40 per cent.

With more women using the internet, local companies with websites of their own have acquired new customers and this has contributed to the local economy. The courses and introduction to the internet helped many women set up businesses or to find self-employment.

Most of the women who benefited from the project were found to be multipliers for other women. This has helped in the empowerment of more women.

Target group: The target group included local computer schools, technology centres, adult education centres, equal opportunity representatives and female founders of new businesses. Beginners were provided courses for free while advanced internet courses were made available for a minimal fee. The campaign has in particular benefited disadvantaged women, elderly women, women in rural regions and unemployed women.

Partners: Brigitte, Women's Department of the former Federal Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Technology and Women Give New Impetus to Technology Association

Awards: GKP Gender and ICT Award 2003 - Finalist: Multi-Stakeholder Initiative (National/Local)

Source: The Global Knowledge Partnership website


 Empowering African Women to Manage 100 Multipurpose Community Telecentres (MCTs) in 20 African Countries

Success strategy: The MCT Network for African Women project has involved construction of a network of at least 100 MCTs in 20 or more African countries, owned and managed by women, providing public telephone, fax and internet connectivity and e-mail as well as basic information. These are to be owned and managed by women in order to enable them to actively participate in the development process of the African continent and expand women’s role in ICTs.

The bottom-up initiative was requested by a number of African countries including Benin, Burundi, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, the Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Malawi, Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania, Zambia and Ethiopia. In cooperation with the African Ministries of Communication and other local partners, ITU has established 4 MCTs in Tanzania and Guinea Bissau. These are now already providing basic training in the use of computers, and will soon supply other services such as public telephone, fax and internet connectivity as well as basic information to meet specific community needs.

These services will enhance the development of sectors like education, health, e-commerce, agriculture and the informal sector of business traditionally operated by African women. The project is estimated to cost approximately US$ 1.0 million.

The shared IT facilities are also used for training in computer literacy, use of computer applications, internet and e-mail. The educators involved provide also support in the use of the MCT services for access to trade services (access to market information), radio and television, advertising and announcements.

The overall objective of this project is to contribute to the creation of an enabling environment where women will actively participate in the development process of the African continent and expand women’s role in ICTs and its new technologies and services. The improvement of the basic economic conditions and lifestyle of the population and the facilitation of affordable and easy access to basic telecommunications and information services is aimed by ensuring that the benefits of telecommunications applications and services are available to all; to guarantee immediate and easy access to telecommunications services during emergencies for all and to encourage women’s participation in ICTs. By enabling women to manage and control the telecentres, ITU is encouraging women’s participation in ICTs, as stipulated in the World Summit on the Information Society’s Declaration and Action Plan.

Target group: African women

Partners: ITU (International Telecommunication Union)

Source: WSIS Stocktaking Database and background materials


 New Home, New Life - Afghanistan

Success strategy: The Canadian International Development Agency supports this radio soap opera on everyday Afghan life, by contributing to the expenses in drama broadcasting and production, monitoring and evaluation, educational features and published materials.

Partners: Canadian International Development Agency - CIDA

Source: WSIS Stocktaking Database


 Economic Empowerment of Minority Muslim Women in India

Success Strategy: Datamation Foundation –– an NGO promoting Gender empowerment –– developed the Community Multi-media and ICT Center concept in mid-2002. Seelampur-Zaffarabad, a predominant minority ghetto located in North-East Delhi – was chosen for the pilot project. Very low per capita income as well as community violence and lack of personal and professional development perspective were strong motivation to proceed to concrete targeted action.

The project looked into the needs of the minority women of Seelampur and set four priority areas:

women empowerment through communication (including promotion of women’s potential to get integrated in the society outside the "ghetto")

  • localisation of appropriate communication and information networks

  • linking of resource-poor women and youth to the information and tools for knowledge management

  • establishment of buyer-seller linkages on the web towards eradication of absolute poverty.

Alongside the ICT training was capacity building, and participants were able to broach taboo subjects such as women's reproductive rights, health issues apart from life-skills, marriage rights and obligations. These are covered extensively in the multimedia courseware developed by the Datamation Foundation.

As more women benefited, other women, who had not ventured out of their homes and also out of the ghettos unaccompanied, have been enrolling themselves into the ICT Centre. To date, more than 500 women have been trained in a large number of skills-development and income enhancement vocations.

Women who have not engaged themselves in any form of work or income generating activity, have felt motivated to start their own businesses, enabled by ICT. It has given women a mechanism to express their creativity and inherent talent. Their enterprises have already borne fruit, with several women already receiving orders from the buyers directly through the buyer-seller linkages.

The women who have been ICT trained, have been found to encourage their families and children to learn computing and start using them in their day-to-day work.

Target group: The minority Muslim community was specifically targeted for this project as historically, they have been one of the most backward, poor and marginalised communities in India.

Partners: Datamation Foundation, UNESCO

Awards: GKP Gender and ICT Award 2003 - Finalist: Multi-Stakeholder Initiative (National/Local)

Source: The Global Knowledge Partnership website


 OSISA's ICT Programme - Southern Africa

Success strategy: OSISA's ICT programme is a communication project aimed at Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe by Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA), a non-profit foundation. The programme aims to contribute towards creating an atmosphere where there is free and equitable flow of information. The organizers say the project is also aimed at deploying appropriate technologies, systems and knowledge. They say networks are applied to enhance and deepen citizen's rights, access, usage and participation towards an open society through ICT.

OSISA's ICT programme is being implemented in the context of a growing digital divide, an outcome of the broader 'development divide' which has as it's core challenge the fighting of poverty, inequality, gender discrimination and the environment crises. Organisers state that on the one side of the digital divide are the highly industrialised countries of the North and West, operating in highly technological environments and able to harness technology to develop their national economies, empower their populations and enhance the overall quality of life of their citizens.

On the other hand is the African continent and the rest of the developing world which are being excluded from full participation in the information society through international policy and regulatory mechanisms, high costs of investing in technology, low connectivity, high level of skills development required and attention is rather given to more pressing social and economic issues faced by governments and populations.

The organizers feel, to harness the development potential of ICTs and to ensure inclusion of the needs of vulnerable groups, their project exists to empower civil society organizations, NGOs and social movements to effectively engage in ICTs for development and various ICT policy initiatives that determine the shape and direction of the growth of the information society.

Concretely, the goals of the programme are:

  • To support the strengthening of ordinary citizen's participation and social networks in, and influence of the ICT policy and regulation processes.

  • To support initiatives that aim to further local development goals through effective and innovative application of ICTs.

  • To ensure that the southern African region is not marginalized but fully equipped and ready to effectively participate and advocate in all aspects of the global Information Society.

Although the Information Society holds new and exciting possibilities for the southern African region and continent to fully integrate into the new global internet economy, the organizers say there are growing concerns that the development of an Information Society in the region needs to integrate the inputs, needs, concerns and contributions of civil society. At a global, continental, and regional level many new policy and regulatory initiatives are being developed and implemented that will have a significant impact on southern Africa's information society development.

Partners: OSISA

Source: The communication Initiative website and the website of the activity


 Volunteers for Africa ICT Programme - East and Central Africa

Success strategy: Volunteers For Africa (VFA) is an organisation that enables individuals and organisations to share skills and materials with and alongside people in need to build capacity and promote international relations and action. The organisation's ICT programme helps to build ICT capacity and access.

The ICT programme of Volunteers for Africa works with schools, hospitals and other institutions catering for the less fortunate in society such as the disabled. This programme reviews and contracts volunteers for training of host institutions in various areas of ICT.

"With the advent of the information age, VFA has tried to ensure all people are able to access necessary equipments and donations...."

The mission of VFA includes: Initiate community based projects aimed at assisting local people to achieve their development objectives. These include    projects to build dams, schools and community polytechnics, and health centres. Assist needy projects, organisations and persons to gain needed equipment. Create partnerships and networks between projects, CBO's, NGO's and corporations for the sake of resource sharing. Promote the spirit of voluntarism. Assist Africans to gain meaningful work experience through volunteer placements within Africa.

Partners: ECOTERRA International - Regional Office for East and Central Africa, Oneworld, Korean NGO Programme, Go Abroad, Friends of Mpigi Forests CDO, Serengeti Stop Over, Idealist, Kibera Community Programme

Source: The communication Initiative website and VFA website


 Digital Teaching Units for Gender in History - USA

Success Strategy: While web-based learning objects are sufficient and affordable supplements to textbooks, the University of Oregon's Centre for the Study of Women in Society (CSWS) found that feminist-inspired content was under-represented.

CSWS thus began a sustained effort to build web-based digital teaching units on an array of topics concerning women in history. Their goal is to help provide teachers and students with feminist curricular materials of high standard at no cost.

Digital Teaching Units (DTUs) for Gender in History puts primary and secondary sources, images, sound files and video clips at the finger tips of students and teachers with access to computers and internet connections. This enables them to supplement or replace standard textbooks that are costly and provide inadequate coverage of new research on evolving gender roles and status across history. The DTU materials are designed so that they can be woven into mainstream courses where they reach students with many different interests and backgrounds, rather than just those taking up gender-related courses.

The CSWS hopes that access to the DTUs will give students a broader understanding of the roots and causes of unequal power relations, which is a necessary step if things are to change. Beneficiaries of the programme are students aged 14 years and above, from all income levels, and from both urban and rural backgrounds.

To date, CSWS has produced 25 different DTUs. These have been used in over 70 university classrooms, reaching 2400 students. They have also been used in an unknown number of high school classes as well as in community lectures.

Partners: University of Oregon's Center for the Study of Women in Society (CSWS)

Awards: GKP Gender and ICT Award 2003 - Finalist: Multi-Stakeholder Initiative (National/Local)

Source: The Global Knowledge Partnership website and CSWS website  


 Governance Programme - Nigeria

Success Strategy: Initiated in 1997 and now in its fourth stage, this USAID-funded programme is geared toward Nigerian women and women's groups. Recent political empowerment activities encompassed a national mass media campaign, media advocacy, capacity building, and non-government organisation (NGO) networking, inter alia through radio broadcasting. This multiphase project aims to address three main issues. These included increasing women's political empowerment, education and information on the values and practices of fundamental human rights as well as civic responsibility against increasing democratic participation. The impact of the project was measured through quasi-experimental design involving the measurement of pertinent indicators such as knowledge, perception and action before and after the intervention.

The impact data shows that at follow-up, slightly more respondents (85.9%, as compared to 84.5%) believed that "women should be given the same opportunities as men". Those who believed that "women should be able to compete with men in politics" increased from 79.5% to 86.8%. The index of positive Women's Political Empowerment Attitudes increased from 3.3 to 3.8; the Women's Cultural and Economic Empowerment Attitudinal Index increased from 3.34 to 3.53.

Partners: Johns Hopkins University Population Communication Services (JHU/PCS), United States Agency for International Development (USAID)

Source: The Communication Initiative website


 Computer Mania Day - USA

Success Strategy: Computer Mania Day is a half-day programme that addresses the under-enrolment of girls in elective Information Technology (IT) courses in high school since 1995.

In 1998, when the first programme ended , Howard County reported that the percentage of high school girls enrolled in elective IT classes had increased from 20 per cent to 50 per cent. However, that percentage appears to have declined since.

As Howard County's enrolments reflected national statistics, which was worrying (only five to seven percent girls are found in an elective high school computer class), Computer Mania Day was re-established in 2003 by CWIT.

The primary goal of the event was to increase the number of girls taking elective IT classes in middle and high schools in Maryland. On Computer Mania Day, 253 students gathered in small groups of 20, and rotated between information technology demonstration stations.

At each station, the students learned about the application of technology in working life through fun and interactive activities. Students also visited tables where high schools presented information and encouraged recruitment in IT programmes.

Buses were arranged for economically disadvantaged students who did not have transportation. In addition to schools getting involved, Girl Scout troops, soccer teams, and private girls clubs also signed up and brought their girls. The girls represented both urban and rural communities.

In addition, 350 parents and teachers attended a programme which highlighted reasons for low enrolment of girls in technology courses. They talked about what parents can do to encourage girls to embrace technology.

The intervention provided by this programme is critical as studies point out that lack of exposure to IT from a young age can lead to an erosion of confidence, which in turn leads to an increased attrition rate among young women in the IT field.

Parents and children who were exposed have learned how to promote technology in the home and classroom, to be aware of the social and cultural barriers to their child's success with technology, and how to become comfortable with and have access to technology in their lives.

Partners: 1995 - 1998: Paragon Smart Technologies in collaboration with Howard County Public Schools; since 2003: Centre for Women and Information Technology (CWIT)

Awards: GKP Gender and ICT Award 2003 - Finalist: Multi-Stakeholder Initiative (National/Local)

Source: The Global Knowledge Partnership website and Computer Mania website


 APC-Africa-Women - Africa

Success strategy: The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) African Women’s Programme Africa-Women (AAW) is a network of organisations and individuals that work to empower African women's organisations to access and use information and communication technologies (ICTs) to promote equality and development. The association is the African regional programme of APC's Women's Networking Support Programme (APC-WNSP).

The programme Works in partnership with women’s organisations and with women in Africa focusing on women's empowerment through:

  • providing information to women about gender and ICTs and access to tools and resources that facilitate women's ease of access to key information;

  • providing regional support to women's organisations through developing their ability to network by using ICTs strategically;

  • lobbying and advocating around gender and ICT policy at a regional and global level including media-related global meetings and via partnerships with civil society organisations;

  • delivering ICT training to African women's organisations, networks and initiatives;

  • conducting research in the area of gender and ICTs;

  • participating in regional and global events and with our global partner APC

APC-Africa-Women aims to promote gender equity in the design, implementation, and use of ICTs. They focus particularly on inequities based on women's social or ethnic background by providing research, training, information, and support activities in the field of ICT policy, skills-sharing in the access to and use of ICT, and women's network-building. It also aims to:

  • promote the consideration and incorporation of gender in ICT policy-making bodies and forums;

  • initiate and implement research activities in the field of gender and ICT;

  • advance the body of knowledge, understanding, and skills in the field of gender and ICT by implementing training activities;

  • facilitate access to information resources in the field of gender and ICT;

  • create and sustain a forum in which African women and women's organisations can discuss issues of common concern and develop common actions towards the other goals.

Members of the network are Africa-based women and women's organisations working to empower African women in media and ICTs. Women can join as institutional or individual members and membership is free.

Partners: Humanist Institute for Development Co-operation (HIVOS)

Source: APC-Africa-Women website and The communication Initiative website


 Women's Experiences in Situations of Armed Conflict - Uganda

Success Strategy: "Women's Experiences in Situations of Armed Conflict" was carried out using different ICT applications. This included use of tape recorders, video recording, photography and face-to-face interaction through meetings, focus group discussions and validation workshops. Their research results are available for download on their website.

The major focus of the project was to highlight women's experiences in situations of armed conflict, the roles they play, the effects and how they are coping in post conflict situations.

The project targeted areas that have experienced or are experiencing armed conflict in Uganda. The documentation was accomplished with the full participation of women war survivors and local leaders. All the respondents were based in affected rural areas.

This project has resulted in six research reports, two video documentaries, photographs and pictorial posters. Such a comprehensive package of information has been useful to a cross section of development workers and policy makers in lobbying for peace-building as well as a support of the community memory. This outcome is powerful tool in raising awareness amongst communities on the need for peaceful resolution of conflicts and peace-building. It enables both women and men, educated and illiterate to understand the causes of conflict, the physical and psychological effects on women and men, as well as the need for harmonious and peaceful living.

The documentation enabled Isis-WICCE to recognise the animosity that prevailed among the various affected ethnic groups. As a result, it was able to initiate women's initiatives that have effectively contributed to the peace-building processes in the affected communities.

The research findings were used to influence the Ministry of Gender and Community Development to incorporate the issue of peace as a cross-cutting issue in the National Action Plan.

Partners Isis-Women's International Cross Cultural Exchange (Isis-WICCE), media crew, professionals and technical experts from different fields, medical staff, the Heinrich Boll Foundation and UNIFEM.

Awards GKP Gender and ICT Award 2003 - Winner: Multi-Stakeholder Initiative (National/Local).

Source: The Global Knowledge Partnership website and the website of the activity


 AIDS Prevention Information Centre Programme (API-net) - Japan

Success strategy: This Programme was established in 1999 in order to provide various information about HIV/AIDS such as prevention, VCT, treatment, new drug, event activities, guideline set by government for HIV/AIDS patients, their family members, general population and medial suppliers. Japanese Foundation for AIDS prevention has executed this programme committed by Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, Japanese Government. It includes the plan for setting up information providing system and the collection, organization and various announcements concerning HIV/AIDS via internet service. The information provided by this programme is general knowledge for HIV/AIDS, up-to-date reports of HIV/AIDS research, guidance and addresses of AIDS treatment designated hospitals, guidance for government or non-government services for HIV/AIDS.

Target group: AIDS Victims and vulnerable & high-risk categories of people

Partners: Japanese Government

Source: WSIS Stocktaking Database and the website of the activity


 International Trade and Sustainable Development: Accessing Information on WTO, NEPAD, ACP–EU Agreements for Civil Society Organizations in Nigeria

Success strategy: The CSO Working Group on Globalisation, Trade and Sustainable Development (TSD-Nigeria) is a platform for articulating CSO inputs into the Nigerian, Regional and Global Trade Agenda. It was formed in May 2004 by participants at a series of National Stakeholders Workshops held across the country.

This website of the TSD is conceived as a multi-layer and multi-purpose resource. It is intended to facilitate the understanding of the entire business of international trade, globalisation, WTO, NEPAD, ACP-EU agreements on national development with special focus on food security and sustainable development. This useful knowledge would enhance the overall understanding of Civil Society Stakeholders in the articulation of the negotiation processes of International Trade agreements, especially in those with WTO, ACP-EU and NEPAD and would boost their participation on the international level.

The idea of the website is also to facilitate the dialogue between the civil society and the Government on Nigeria’s International Trade Commitments as well as to strengthen public-private partnerships and civil society initiatives supported by the Government as well as the overall communication between institutions and civil society entities.

On the institutional level, this advanced communication should also create new incentives for generating civil society input into the Federal Governments trade policy, its strategic focus and deliverables.

On the implementation level, the activities initiated, supported or reflected on the website should facilitate the establishment of institutional frameworks for cascading the knowledge and implementation of the Governments trade policy at state and Local Government levels.

On the civil society level, the website has a considerable role of rolling wide-public debate by providing an opportunity to all stakeholders to have a say on International Trade issues. Increased public awareness in the field and general level of information and knowledge on trade related issues would be achieved in the years to come.

Partners: DevNet , Heinrich Boll Foundation, Lagos

Source: WSIS Stocktaking Database and the website of the activity


 'Where Women Want to Work' (www2wk) - UK

Success Strategy: 'Where women want to work' (www2wk) is a free one-stop shop for women around the world to independently research and compare the best organisations to work for, based on their own needs and preferences.

www.www2wk.com is a real-time, interactive, online, independent e-tool for women. It encourages women to use ICT and to research independently.

Importantly, the www2wk e-tool encourages women to harness the strength of their collective voices by using the internet to share and advise other women about the best places to work. Whether they are looking for equal pay, a fast-track career, a progressive work environment, or even an on-site crèche –– www2wk provides interactive resources for women, whether female graduates, unemployed migrants, or those returning from maternity leave.

Conceptualised in September 2002, the project was piloted in 15 multi-national organisations and is now sold to companies around the world. As a result, industry organisations are now using the tool to develop, measure and benchmark their gender capital (i.e. performance in attracting, retaining, developing and promoting women).

Government organisations are able to access data on employment preferences of women. Academic institutions are eager to use the research and statistical data collected through the e-tool.

It has also forced organisations to be more transparent and accountable about how they attract, retain, develop and promote women. With more and more users, the www2wk e-tool provides a constantly current, reliable, authentic and valuable reference for women.

It has reached women across cultures as the software is in multiple languages and character sets (e.g. Cyrillic's, Arabic, Asian characters, etc).

This is the first time globally that such current and in-depth information has been made available about women's career needs, choices and preferences. The www2wk e-tool has saved women valuable time by helping them with important decisions about where to work.

Partners: multi-stakeholders partnership initiative

Awards: GKP Gender and ICT Award 2003 - Finalist: Multi-Stakeholder Initiative (Global/Regional)

Source: The Global Knowledge Partnership website and the website of the activity


 A Protesters Dream

Success strategy: In the fall of 1999, over 40,000 free-trade protesters descended on the city of Seattle, Washington in the United States during the now infamous World Trade Organization meeting.  Despite the fact that local businesses lost over USD 12 million in sales as a result of the riots, the event was a potent example of how the internet has leveled the playing field for all stakeholders in international policy debates.  Beginning a year prior to the WTO meeting, over 1,000 non-governmental organizations from almost 100 countries used the internet to coordinate their efforts for what has become the benchmark for global protests.  Although the media focused on the mayhem that engulfed Seattle, behind the scenes actors from developed and developing countries alike used e-mail alerts, Listservs and chat rooms to coordinate their collective actions.  Moreover, the internet also gave marginalized groups, such as the Third World Network, a voice in the ongoing dialogue about globalization and international agreements. 

For related stories: see CNN website  and ABC News website


Public Domain Information Centers

Success Strategy: The Public Domain Information Centers Programme (united and extended Public Legal Information Centers Programme and Public Business Information Centers Programme) is aimed to create the network of community centers for free public access to the different kind of public domain information, e.g. legal, consumer, business, ecological, educational, etc. across the Russia and CIS countries. The website of the programme has till now connected more than 1350 telecenters throughout the CIS region and provides useful information about ongoing and forthcoming initiatives related to the dissemination of legal information concerning all aspects of life.

Partners: UNESCO IFAP National Committee of Russia, Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of Russia, Ministry of Culture and Mass Media of Russia, Special Communications Service, Garant Co., Ltd, Kodeks Co., Ltd, Konsultant Plus Co., Ltd

For more information: see IFAP website and the website of the activity


 Effective African Participation in International ICT Policy Making Process - Uganda

Success strategy: The Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) is one of two programmes established under the Catalysing Access to Information and Communications Technologies in Africa (CATIA) initiative. The overall goals for CIPESA are to develop the capacity of African stakeholders to contribute effectively to international decision-making on ICT and ICT-related products and services, and on the role of ICT in development. This includes targeted action to build multi-stakeholder policy-making capacity in African countries. In particular, it focuses on decision-making that facilitates the use of ICT in support of poverty reduction.

The Collaboration fosters effective participation of East and Southern African stakeholders in international and regional policy making on ICT issues by informing people about the substantive issues, and providing networking opportunities between regional partners to encourage resources sharing, and between international partners to supplement existing expertise and enhance skills transfer.

One of the important activities of CIPESA is to get information on ICT policy and ICT development issues out to government officials, business people, civil society organisations, and the general public across Africa. It publishes different background and other relevant materials as "Open Content” in order to create free resources for use by others. Such work can also be disseminated via a range of media outlets, including web, print, radio and television.

Target group: Victims of sexual abuse

Partners: CATIA Partners

Source: the website of the activity and CommunityNet Aotearoa website


 Association of Computer Technologists in India (ACT-India)

Success strategy: This project is intended to promote IT education in remote areas worldwide. Presently this action has been implemented in India and some African countries. Free IT education, tech seminars and IT end user organising are its peculiarities. Empowering the women community with IT education is also in the highlighted topic.

Under the project’s umbrella, the organisations involved as well as many individual members are making efforts to bring IT education to the poor communities in remote districts. Alternative approaches to knowledge management & sharing have been studies in order to adapt these disciplines to underdeveloped rural reality in Indian villages. An overall IT campaign is also launched working to mobilize more and more people to get involved in similar programs and contribute thus to the increase of the computer literacy rate and the skills potential of citizens throughout India.

Target group: Remote rural communities

Partners: TakingIT Global, ACT India(Association of Computer Technologists in India)

Source: WSIS Stocktaking Database and the website of the activity


 Project Sushiksha - India

Success Strategy: Project Sushiksha,is a functional literacy program for the illiterate section of the Society who fall easy prey to the allurements of the crime mongers against money. As illiteracy is coupled with vulnerability the program is inclusive of local spiritual practices so as to infuse mental strength to fight back allurements and seize resources righteously for enhancing material development and improving the mental power to establish ethical life style in their family life.

Sushiksha is an educational program, especially for Women from disadvantaged backgrounds with no accessibility for the light of knowledge and self-reliance. The curriculum includes basic reading and writing of the local vernacular (Bengali) and basic arithmetic for accounting. Besides, gradual awareness on environmental development for a sustainable better quality of life is also carried out. Participants were also trained to make handicrafts using various internet resources and thus acquire commercially applicable skills.

True education at the primary level should have a, according to project developers, flavour of spirituality and should be irrespective of age, cast and creed. The activities are focused on enhancing community members’ moral power by various means including ICTs urging them to be more beneficial to society and use resources very judiciously. The concept of the programme is based on the goal to help local communities help themselves to become self reliant rather than dependent and constantly demanding.

Started for the first time in 1996, the project has effect on a population of at least 50,000 slum dwellers of Tollygunj slum in Kolkata followed by 1,000 people from the remote Bhitargarh village, Mecheda in Midnapore district of West Bengal, India. The Centre for Adul women established in the village of Bhtaragarth, Mecheda, Midnapore district in 2000 initiated a regularized cycles of continuous education and knowledge certification contributing to the cultural and valuable content orientation of the Indian citizens form the area.

Following the encouraging experience of this first phase, 'SUSHIKSHA' was launched in 2004 at the VIP Enclave complex. Prior to the beginning of the project, a survey of more than 150 residents have indicated that to minimise domestic exploitation and mismanagement of finance due to lack of knowledge in arithmetic. The Programme to the Domestic help is expected to restore fearless freedom of expression through written complaints to the local authorities. Under the programme could be followed trainings in various other part-time income-generating activities. Particular courses in time management and better performance in domestic services have been also given.

The concept of this particular project has evolved and the crucial importance of social emancipation has been stressed through coherent activities. The programme has been raising social and awareness on value-based life style respectful to moral values and ethics rather than simply improved living standards. Health and education for all are promoted as universal goals.

From the beginning of the project in 2004, in Bhitaragarh Village this project has enlightened directly 60 women and effectively this has improved the social awareness of 60 families with membership strength of 500 people approximately. The program has its impact on the residents of this village and the surrounding rural areas. The members of the Sushiksha family are more and more self-reliant and now capable enough to protect their rights and render their duties for better living.

Target group: Illiterate population, with special focus on women and young people

Partners: Institute for International Social Development, Morning Glory Montessori for the domestic Help of the complex residents

Source: see WSIS Stocktaking Database and the website of the activity


 « Capucine » Citizen’s Chip Card: capucine.net - France

Success strategy:  “C@pucine” (Carte à puce citoyenne) is an identity card associated with an electronic wallet created by and for the citizens. It is designed to be a multi-functional card with dynamic audio signature. This unique solution is facilitating citizens’ communication with public administrations, health, justice and other institutions as well as electronic payments for various products and services. “C@pucine” is developed accordingly to international standards and allows identification of the user thus giving the possibility to safely access, interact with and modify personal files at public services.

The card is enabled to provide also facilitated free internet access all over the world. The user would have the security options allowing him to stay anonymous while using internet services or fully reveal his identity when needed (for payment or security sake.

The concepts innovative idea is to detain a marginal percentage (about 1 %) from current transactions in an Ethical Solidarity Fund. The Fund would be managed by NGOs members of C@pucine.net and contribute to the lessoning of the internal digital divide by “sponsoring” the purchases of disadvantaged people. An additional advantage of the project is that the management of the Solidarity Fund could be consulted by means of the c@picine card assuring the transparency. The national government is also involved but mainly as a “night guard” monitoring the transactions and taking action in case of malfunctioning or abuse.

The project is yet in an experimental phase. Since its first version in 2001, more than 3000 cards have been delivered at the price of about 36 euros.

Partners: French Government and NGOs

Source: WSIS Stocktaking Database and the website of the activity


 Making Civil Voices Heard - Communication for Development Programme 2005 - 2008

Success strategy: The programme Making Civil Voices Heard is a media, information and communication for development program willing to empower citizens in developing countries to express themselves and make their voices heard, with special focus on deprived and marginalized people. The programme will enable equitable and appropriate access to information and communication resources that can help improve livelihoods and stimulate other development opportunities. The programme will also open up and broaden opportunities for a free flow of information, for networking and sharing knowledge and for public and democratic spaces for political debate and participation.

The intended beneficiaries and partners of the programme are the Hivos network of some 800 partner organisations, with special attention for micro-finance and HIV/AIDS, ICT and media partners. The joint efforts aim at enhancing capacities, innovation, development of participative tools and lobbying. The strength of the partners is based on knowledge sharing and mutual empowerment. An extra focus is set forward to bring access to ICT capacities `beyond the boss desk’, affordable and appropriate access in rural areas and women& women’s organisations.

Target group: disadvantaged individuals & communities

Partners: Hivos (Humanist Institute for Development Co-operation) - Netherlands

Source: WSIS Stocktaking Database and the website of the activity


 Baldati (My Village) - Lebanon

Success Strategy: Baldati is a patriotic environmental & heritage preservation oriented resource promoting national development, cultural solidarity and tolerance and local empowerment. Once the platform was set up, members organized in groups build on new content to develop the website. Baladati members aim at developing simple and practical methods by which to revive Lebanese villages, reunite their communities, support their institutions, and encourage dialogue at all levels.

Baldati - The World Villages was brought up by the awareness of the need of finding a simple and practical way to empower communities. An initiative was launched to create a virtual network of villages and community members through the Internet believing that communication is the first step in solving the social problems of villages, since these problems are aggravated by the solitude and isolation of village societies. There are two possible memberships. Club & hobby fellows could exchange opinions, useful links or explore detailed local geographic maps. The second “plan” offers the opportunities to get involved in several activities including training, promotion and eco-tourism. The site is not purely informative and goes interactive in order to raise awareness and incite peoples to get in touch with other members with the same origins or similar interests. Different discussion and action groups are mobilized through the website. Hyde Park, the Lebanese Parliament forum offers to members numerous information and analysis on hot political issues such as elections, parliamentary debates and projects for new lows. Ecology and heritage preservation are promoted through a comprehensive set of thematic data, picture gallery and historical highlights. Clubs on health issues, photography, architecture, music, sports and leisure are structured and vehiculed by electronic means. Events organisation, registration and payments are online.

The concept of the website was driven by the idea to connect Lebanese villages, local communities and diaspora inside or outside Lebanon on the net so people could share visions, thoughts and concerns. Thus, Baldati reveals as a framework for virtual community life without borders. As a virtual place of socialization, intense communication and genesis of social consensus and mutual understanding, Baldati is a social facilitator and grassroots resource. We could regret therefore the lack of important facilities in Arabic.

Baldati.com is a portal containing at present links among and to more then 1468 Lebanese village, 20 club, 192 Diaspora countries. The project is currently covering Lebanon but there are ongoing efforts of making it regional. The concept of accessible and open to all virtual community is likely to answer to social development imperatives in the Middle East area.

Target group: Local communities, all citizens

Partners: Baldati Founding Commitee

Source: WSIS Stocktaking Database and the website of the activity


 FIRE - Feminista International Radio Endeavour - Costa Rica

Success Strategy: Feminista International Radio Endeavour or FIRE is the first international internet radio produced by women. Set up in 1991, it was originally created as a resource to amplify the voices of the women worldwide.

Based in Costa Rica, FIRE was broadcast originally on short wave. In 1998, it merged its traditional radio service with the internet. This has enabled diverse formats of communication, through re-broadcasts in local radios, international short wave radio, magazines, newspapers, electronic networks and web pages. internet provides the possibility of converting the computer into a transmitter of high frequency, more economical than traditional radio.

FIRE's main objectives include developing new forms of communication and contributing to change in the world order, giving women voices the opportunity to be heard, especially voices from the Global South, are often ignored in global media.

FIRE is not 'for' women; it is by and about women and their thoughts on various issues. While it is international in scope and reach, it is mainly produced by Latin American and Caribbean feminists.

In addition, it seeks to generate individual and collective commitment to movement building and action. It also wants to produce high quality, non-sexist, activist programmes in Spanish and English for radio and the internet.

Activity-wise, FIRE conducts special coverage of events and organises and produces web cast marathons on special occasions. It also produces women's PEACECASTS, which help create awareness and mobilise participation. Training in web casting is conducted to build women's capacities with new information technology.

 FIRE also produces programmes that invite women to come to the station or call in. In addition, journalists are invited to listen to the live broadcast from their own countries to produce material for their own stations or re-broadcast the sound files. Radio stations and other web casting initiatives are invited to link live. The internet audience is also invited to both listen in and write to FIRE.

Partners: multi-stakeholders partnership

Awards GKP Gender and ICT Award 2003 - Finalist: Multi-Stakeholder Initiative (Global/Regional)

Source: The Global Knowledge Partnership website and the website of the activity


 The Church and the Internet

Success Strategy: Given that four-fifths of the Philippine population is Catholic, the Church wields considerable influence. The Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) aims to connect each of the 79 dioceses and almost 3,000 schools to one another and the internet over the next five years.  The CBCP also intends to provide content, e-mass services via streaming video and IP telephony to enable Filipinos to stay in touch with family and friends abroad.  With the underlying goal of protecting society from pornographic materials online and spread the Catholic gospel, the CBCP intends to use ICTs to usher in an era of “e-vangelism” in East Asia.   CBCP is also involved with the private sector to provide cybercafés to disadvantaged neighbourhoods and to develop e-commerce services for Filipino farmers.

Background materials: see the ITU website


 Achieving E-Quality in the IT Sector - Jordan

Success Strategy: This project towards "Achieving E-Quality in the IT Sector" is targeting to lessen the gender gap existing in the ICT Sector by teaming efforts to build women's technical and professional capabilities. The intention was to give women enough of an edge to compete effectively in a male-dominated ICT market, and to enable them to secure stable, well-paying jobs.

The project had five strategies:

  • Explore opportunities and challenges in the ICT market and policy environment

  • Sensitise existing policies

  • Build women's capacity

  • Link participants to the local and regional ICT job market

  • Raise awareness on the importance of ICT

In the awareness-raising component, the project succeeded in creating exposure to the project activities and objectives and raised awareness on the importance of including women in the ICT sector.

The project's success has attracted interest from NGOs and women's organizations in other countries in the Middle East. As a result, this Jordanian pilot project will be replicated in Egypt and Lebanon in addition to other countries in the region.

Target group:Women from low-income groups, Government and public institutions, NGOs, schools, universities and the private sector

Partners: UNIFEM, Jordanian government, Cisco Foundation and Cisco Systems, Inc

Awards: GKP Gender and ICT Award 2003 - Finalist: Multi-Stakeholder Initiative (Global/Regional)

Source: The Global Knowledge Partnership website and the website of the activity


 Palestine Women’s Resource Center

Success strategy: UNESCO and the Palestine Ministry of Women’s Affairs, aware of the importance of women empowerment and capacity building as a whole have agreed on the establishment of a Palestine Women’s Resource Center (PWRC). A Memorandum of Understanding concerning its creation  has been signed in May 2005 and the official inauguration of the Center is foreseen to take place in November 2005.

Located in Ramallah, the Center will serve as an observatory and clearinghouse on information related to women’s issues in the Palestinian National Authority. In addition to its function as a resource and documentation center, it will carry out networking, advocacy and policy-oriented research for gender equality and the human rights of Palestinian women. Research priorities will be legislation for women’s rights, causes and consequences of women’s poverty, violence against women, and women’s political participation.

The Center is the first of its kind to be established in an Arab country outside the Maghreb region. Through on-line databases, reference materials, research projects, policy briefs and internships, it will help build human and institutional capacities in governmental and non-governmental women’s organizations, and facilitate communication flows and networking as well as advocacy of gender-sensitive issues within Palestinian society. It will also promote awareness-raising campaigns, particularly in regards to the enforcement of existing laws that protect the rights of women.

UNESCO will allocate a budget of $200,000 to the establishment of the PWRC and an additional $150,000 to cover staff and operational costs and research activities for the period 2006-2007. The Ministry of Women’s Affairs will provide office space for the Center. UNESCO will seek to mobilize extra-budgetary funding for the Center to allow the hiring of additional experts and researchers.

Target group: Palestine's women

Partners: UNESCO and the Palestine Ministry of Women’s Affairs Source: the Unesco website

For more information: see the UNESCO website


 The Acacia Initiative - Africa

Success strategy: The Acacia Initiative: Communities and Information Society in Africa, is an initiative of the Canadian International Development Research Centre (IDRC) to empower sub-Saharan African communities with the ability to apply information and communication technologies to their own social and economic development.

The Acacia programme is commencing its second phase (2001-2005), which will look to build on the first one, notably by focussing on disseminating findings widely, learning from its initial projects and developing new types of projects. The objectives of Acacia II are: 

  • To enhance the understanding and knowledge of the innovative, transformative or dysfunctional effects of ICTs in poverty reduction and human development in Africa

  • To improve African countries capacities to formulate and implement national ICT policies promoting equitable access to ICTs and information doe socio-economic development

  • To contribute to research in appropriate ICTs that support the development and adoption of affordable and functionally relevant technical solutions for Africa

  • To support research that enhances African content through software development for the effective application of ICTs for development

  • To learn from Acacia's community-based research and experimentation and to widely disseminate this knowledge.

Activities include regional and sub-regional convening to garner broad participation of stakeholders in debates about ICTs and development, as well as recognition of the need to address a broad spectrum of policy issues. There are projects to develop local content needs to meet educational, business, and environmental needs and a variety of community access mechanisms (such as telecentres). Acacia activities also include stimulating private sector participation and supporting sectoral initiatives such as school networking to support formal and informal learning.

Under the Acacia Initiative, several big-scale projects are underway, including: SchoolNet South Africa Programme - to test various connectivity models and to develop an understanding of the educational processes, benefits and constraints relating to the use of ICTs in education.

Mozambique Pilot Telecentres in Manhica and Namaacha - The telecentres will offer various services from photocopying to e-mail, but the main focus of the telecentres will be to provide educational resources to the most disadvantaged groups in the two communities.

Application of ICTs and Decentralization of Health Services - Phase I: Telemedicine Pilot Project - to introduce new information communication technologies and enable the control of such technologies with local health practitioners. The telemedicine facility will service distant and underprivileged communities outside Dakar.

Economic Empowerment of Women through ICTs in Uganda - Online and offline databases and other information sources on a variety of issues to increase women entrepreneurial opportunities are combined with ICT training for women and technical assistances for using these databases.

The Evaluation and Learning System for Acacia (ELSA) constituted a very significant element of the entire first phase of Acacia (Acacia I). Perhaps the most important lesson learned from the first generation of Acacia was how challenging it can be to mount this type of program.

Partners: IDRC was a founding memeber of PICTA and has partnered broadly with the principal agencies involved with ICTs in Africa (through, for example, the African Information Society Initiative and the African Networking Initiative). Partners include the UNECA, UNESCO, ITU, NORAD, European Commission, Open Society Institute, Worldlinks, IICD and many others. Among its developing country partners, just to cite a few, there is APC, ENDA TM, GEEP, Wits University, Makarere University, Eduardo Mondlane University, Université Cheikh Anta Diop, OSIRIS, SADC, INIIT, ITIGEO, etc.

Source: The Communication Initiative website


 From Dakar to Dhaka: Connecting Communities Radio Programme - Senegal and Bangladesh

Success strategy: The BBC World Service Trust and the Department for International Development (DFID) are currently working on a radio project to address the issues of information communication technology (ICT) and poverty reduction - particularly focusing on Senegal and Bangladesh. The outcomes of the project will be three radio series (in French, Bengali, and English), a video, and a website.

Through visits to grassroots projects in Senegal and Bangladesh, the radio programmes, which are entitled "From Dakar to Dhaka - Connecting Communities," will explore the uses of ICT in alleviating poverty. Organizers seek to explore the question of what use ICT can be to people who lack basic healthcare, are illiterate, and do not have enough to eat. Another focus of the programmes will be the obstacles to development in this area, including political, economic, and technical barriers. The radio programme have been broadcast as part of Go Digital on the BBC World Service, found at the BBC's On Air magazine or at BBC World Service site starting in October, 2002. The BBC Newsonline site features stories gleaned from the broadcasts.

Partners: BBC World Service Trust, DfID Infrastructure and Urban Development Department

Source: The Communication Initiative website and  BBC World Service site


 Afro@Digital: A documentary on Africa’s digital revolution

Success Strategy: In an effort to demonstrate the effectiveness and creative uses of ICTs in Africa, Congolese filmmaker, Balufu Bakupa-Kanyinda, has sought to capture Africa’s digital revolution on film.  The documentary shows how Africans from eight different countries are using the internet, digital cameras, mobile phones, and other ICTs to join the global community.  Cybercafés are probably the most popular form of access for the majority of Africans, and the film highlights the creative ways they are using these public access points to gain access to world markets and the global knowledge pool.  For example, in Bamako, Mali, the number of internet cafés has increased from one to 100 in just one year.

For more information: see UNESCO website


 Telecenter Manager Software - Uganda

Success Strategy: In 2002, UgaBYTES Initiative introduced a software package that is aimed at making the work of project managers in community ICT programmes easier. Telecenter Manager is designed to help managers at telecentres in Uganda track users' activities each time they use telecentre services. The software is designed to help managers make informed decisions.

The user must remember his or her user ID number, which allows the Telecenter Manager to generate an "auto user registration report" and "auto daily user report". This ID number enables managers to track usage without having to acquire any further information about telecentre users.

UgaBYTES Initiative is a Ugandan NGO that works to support the integration of ICT into Uganda's development efforts. The telecentre manager software was distributed free of charge and free training was provided in 2002.

Target group: Tmultipurpose Community Telecentres Managers

Partners: UgaBYTES Initiative

Source: The Communication Initiative website


 Cyber Institute for Women's Empowerment and Leadership (CIWEL)

Success Strategy: In the Middle East, only 6 per cent of internet users in the region are female; the women leaders felt this was the main cause of inequality and lack of development there. The goal of WLP's CIWEL initiative found in 2000 is to ensure women's equal access to communication technologies and training. The expected outcome of this is their full participation in social, economic and political leadership.

The CIWEL project uses a combination of technology and communication tools: radio programmes; video programmes; live internet radio web cast and CD and web archives of the web casts; multimedia packages consisting of CD-ROMs, videos and training manuals; and online e-mail.

In addition, web-based distance learning courses and an eLearning centre for women were established. The project also created roaming institutes for the training of trainers; multi-lingual websites; and provided training and capacity building for partner organisations. Each of these tools is adapted to the linguistic and cultural needs of target constituencies.

More than 3,000 women and girls have participated in WLP's CIWEL initiative in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Cameroon, India, Jordan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Morocco, Nigeria, Palestine, Turkey, Uzbekistan, and Zimbabwe.

Women in Cameroon are organising radio shows focusing on women's issues and WLP's partner organisation in Zimbabwe is establishing a technology training centre for refugee women from Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Tanzania to increase their technical and capacity-building skills. As a direct impact of the project, women in the region have become more aware of their rights and are better able to participate in governance, decision-making and organisational transformation.

Partners: the Women's Learning Partnership for Rights, Development, and Peace (WLP) organisation and women's organisations in Afghanistan, Jordan, Morocco, Nigeria, and Palestine

Awards: GKP Gender and ICT Award 2003 - Finalist: Multi-Stakeholder Initiative (Global/Regional).

Source: The Global Knowledge Partnership website


 Wi-Fi for favelas (slums) in Rio de Janeiro

Success Strategy: A pilot project is being implemented in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to open high–speed academic networks and provide, through a broadband wireless link (Wi–Fi technology) connectivity to nearby favelas (slums). The initiative will link local Universities to currently unconnected community computer centres. This project is being implemented in partnership with the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, the Ministry of Science and Technology of the State of Rio de Janeiro and two local NGOs (Vivario and CDI). The project aims to demonstrate how high-speed networks can be twinned with wireless technologies (in particular, Wi-Fi) to serve low-income communities within large metropolitan areas.  Given that the majority of the Latin American population live in urban areas, and a high percentage of those inhabitants are unconnected, the impact of the project can be quite significant.

For more information: see www.ICAmericas.net


 Rusape Girls Empowerment Village - Zimbabwe

Success Strategy: The Rusape Girls Empowerment village is a 'safe village' founded in 2001 by its current director, Betty Makoni. Located in Zimbabwe, the village was established in response to a felt need to empower rural girls. The centre serves as an information dissemination centre as well as a service provision and relief centre. Its goal is to give a sense of hope to abused rural girls. Organisers believe that the village's activism can contribute to respect for girls' rights on a broader scale.

This project is based on the premise that the "rural girl can reach greater heights if she is brought in close contact with technology." Using technology, the project hopes to address issues related inter alia to exploitation of rural girls as a source of cheap labour in urban areas and farming communities, sexual harassment and abuse of rural girls, hostile school environments where teachers perpetrate sexual violence.

Specifically, girls are provided with 3 months of training on the use of email and the internet. The village has a computer lab with a photocopier, email access, and an internet-connected computer. The girls produce brochures and referral materials there. "They have been motivated and greatly inspired by this development and also the latest information on HIV/AIDS has been very helpful. The girls have started the pen pal programme which has linked them with other girls for information exchange.

Partners: Girl Child Network Trust (GCNT), Firelight Foundation, IDEX, Department of Social Welfare, health institutions, police, and local organisations of Zimbabwe+

Source: The Communication Initiative website


 RADIO TOCO- Trinidad and Tobago

Success Strategy: Radio Toco 106.7 FM, the first and only community-based radio station in Trinidad and Tobago was established in 1997 under the UNESCO Women-speaking-to-Women Programme in collaboration with the local NGO, T&T/CAN Citizens' Agenda. It has blossomed into a veritable laboratory for community mobilization and community broadcasat training in the fight against poverty and promotion of sustainable human development.

Radio Toco is fully recognized as an outstanding FM medium for information sharing and exchange amongst the rural communities of North-Eastern Trinidad. Radio Toco informs and educates the community through news and interviews, promotes community development, motivates women to become more proactive and supports sustainable development. It has given rise to social awareness and has engaged in the training of young people from the communities in radio broadcasting. To date, the station services a listenership of 80,000, including the sister island of Tobago.

Partners: UNESCO, T&T/CAN Citizens' Agenda

Awards: Winner of the 2003 IPDC-UNESCO Rural Communication Prize

Source: UNESCO’s website


 The Virtual Women's University (VIFU) - Germany

Success Strategy: The Virtual Women's University is an outcome of the International Women's University (IFU), which offered a 3-month postgraduate course in Germany in the year 2000. During the course, 700 participants – half of whom were from developing and transitional economies – researched global challenges such as water, information, migration, city, work and health.

The 700 participants were made up of researchers, journalists, NGO activists, artists and others. In order to allow the participants to continue networking after the end of the course term, the web server www.vifu.de was created. The server consists of a virtual community, an electronic network and a virtual library.

This site provides extensive online resources on work and academic matters, politics, global and local conflicts and activism –– all with a gender perspective. One is even able to find job offers and conference announcements and post messages on the message boards. This has allowed activists, journalists, students, scholars and politicians to continuously exchange knowledge, ideas and perspectives from all over the world.

VIFU's goal is to network among women internationally, to offer gender specific information, and to provide and strengthen IT competencies. Capacity building for women in the IT field is given particular emphasis as women users are often marginalized on the internet by mainly male content. VIFU offers female users the opportunity to create and find content relevant to themselves, so that they may be empowered actors on the internet and in IT-related fields.

Partners: multi-stakeholders’ partnership

Awards: GKP Gender and ICT Award 2003 - Finalist: Multi-Stakeholder Initiative (Global/Regional)

Source: The Global Knowledge Partnership website and the website of the activity


 Not Just Gumboots & Scones – New Zealand

Success Strategy: Not Just Gumboots & Scones is an empowerment gender and grassroots initiative. It represents an extensive collection of resource intended for women in rural communities throughout New Zealand with a particular focus on the South Canterbury, Otago and Southland regions. The multi-layer website has the ambition to improve communication, provide opportunities, both social and economic, and ensure that people are aware of issues that any of us feel are important. The site is based on contributions from people with an interest in rural issues. The concept of the resource shaped up thanks to the possibility of cheapest, quickest and most exciting type of communication through internet that it offers. Some of the limitations of access to the internet were overcome by placing modems in four resource centres throughout the south of the South Island of NZ: Middlemarch, Fairlie, Nightcaps, and Waimate.

Not Just Gumboots & Scones is a comprehensive information network for rural women. It includes useful thematic New Zealander websites focused on rural issues such as agriculture and horticulture information and news about livestock, forestry, fishing, and crops but also about rural work equipment, services and stock indexes. Specific highlights on water, environment, injury& disaster prevention are also elaborated in order to provide a wider range of useful services for rural communities members. Education & training opportunities in the field are updated on a regular basis constituting a solid reference work for interested people. A reasonable number of publications on related issues allow getting additional information and different points of view.

The website provides as well a very wide range of knowledge resources in an easily readable and comprehensive form. Political institutions, national history, legal points are explored in depth and relevant facts are stressed. Legal issues are particularly taken in consideration to provide exhaustive feedback on employment law, health rights & legislation, parental leave, family trust, employment rights for children, how to choose lawyer services and many related websites.

A rich collection of children’s pages is also developed. Links to other websites dealing with children’s education, training and upbringing are available. Features such as environmental education through interactive play and writing thesaurus for students and kids are helpful sources of inspiration for parents and teaching professionals. Professional advice services and childhood institutions could be easily spotted and contacted. Interactive forums for questions are open to any concern related to children.

In addition, each month the site brings new and topical resources. Miscellaneous events - dance, science, environment, gender, empowerment - are posted in due time to urge attendance.

The overall vocation of Not Just Gumboots & Scones goes beyond the role of information resource and useful tool. The website helps to reconcile the status of woman as a mainstay of rural community life and her ambition to have a say in ubiquity of social and professional life. Fully assuming the role of mother and labour force, women have been carrying out important social and cultural enterprises and continuously emancipating through the mastery of new technologies and innovative solutions. The awards nomination procedures in different domains promoted on the website witness of that more and more tangible trend.

Target group: women, rural population, all community members as a whole

Partners: New Zealand’s Civil Society Organisations

Source: WSIS Stocktaking Database and the website of the activity


 Aprendiendo Juntos (Learning Together) - Chile

Success Strategy: This project was carried out in the framework of the action lines of the National Meeting of Kindergartens (Junta Nacional de Jardines Infantiles - JUNJI). JUNJI is a private initiative launched in 1970 with the objective of creating, planning, promoting, stimulating and supervising the organisation and operation of kindergarten classrooms. The company relates to the Chilean government via the Department of Education.

The general purpose of the project was to contribute to the achievement and improvement in primary education, especially of girls under the age of six - through the implementation and validation of an educational model based on strategic use of radio, in-person training, distance education and educational booklets.

The radio programme "Aprendiendo Juntos" initiated in 1997 has been implementing targeted actions for rising awareness among adults about the different processes of learning in boys and girls as well as about how to facilitate learning process for both. The National Technical Department produced a weekly 20 minutes radio programme, which was openly broadcast to assure accessibility to all social groups. At the same time, a hotline was opened to receive calls from the public. In order to offer an interesting and flexible programme, various formats were used including music, narration, interviews, etc.

In terms of content, each radio programme had a special thematic focus: culture, language, socialisation, body awareness, creativity and self-reliance. Aspects related to quality of life were considered as well as children’s rights and girls’ rights in particular. In addition, suggestions were presented for activities to be carried out at home.

In 1998 the programme "Jardín Infantil a domicilio" (Kindergarten at Home), a complementary 10-minute television programme broadcast weekly and addressed to adults, was launched.

The programme was first developed in the community of Pintana, one of the poorest communities of the Metropolitan Region. Subsequently, the programme was spread in five regions of Chile, reaching a total of 4,000 families. Consequently, during 1998, the project was expanded jointly with the television programme "Jardín Infantil a domicilio" implemented simultaneously in the five regions to reach 2,000 additional families.

Partners: Junta Nacional de Jardines Infantiles – JUNJI

This project forms part of the "Multilateral Project of Improvement of the Quality and Equity of the Basic Education", with funds from the Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA).

Source: The Communication Initiative and Aprendiendo Juntos" page of the Proyecto Multilateral de Mejoramiento de la Calidad y Equidad de la Educación Básica website [Spanish only]


 Strengthening Cyberela Network - Brazil

Success Strategy: The project conceived by a Brazilian NGO seized the opportunity to integrate community radio with the internet as the means to empower women. As access to the internet was becoming cheaper in Brazil, it proved to be a suitable "marriage partner" for the main mode of communication: radio.

"Strengthening Cyberela Network" was formed to facilitate this union. The initiative had three objectives:

  • improve the quality of radio content by equipping producers of women's radio programmes with access to a broader spectrum of information through the internet;

  • make internet access available to the communities through the creation of community radio-telecenters;

  • have a defined area in cyberspace with gender content.

A website, www.radiofalamulher.com, was set up to allow women to access radio programmes with gender content, through the internet. The initiative gives women experience with the internet while they access something familiar (radio programme) as well as specific to their needs (gender content). At the website, visitors can download audio-files that contain radio programmes with gender content.

Two public contests were held to select women producers. Popular female radio communicators participated and have become committed key people in the Cyberela Network. These women were trained to use ICT for radio production: how to download and upload files, how to use the internet for research, exchange audio files, e-mail and interact with listeners. Finally, telecentres were created to make the internet available to the community.

The best evidence of the success of this project is that it has been recognised throughout Brazil and is gaining recognition overseas as an example of best practice. In 13 months, they have averaged 100,000 hits on their website.

Partners: Communication, Education and Information on Gender – Brazil (CEMINA)

Awards: GKP Gender and ICT Award 2003 - Finalist: Multi-Stakeholder Initiative (National/Local)

Source: The Global Knowledge Partnership website and Radio Falamulher website


 World Schoolhouse Project - Dir, Pakistan

Success strategy: Since 2002, the World Schoolhouse Project is committed to ensuring that girls and women in Pakistan rural areas learn to read. In order to help underwrite schooling, new schools are established and equipped, and various facilities for boosting the teaching competencies of the school personnel are made available. Target subject matters are basic mathematics and English. Recently, ICT basic skills have been also integrated in the training modules after rise of awareness of the importance of the empowerment resources available through internet. The initial programme ahs broaden its focus from increasing access to primary education to effective literacy, including e-literacy.

For people living in Dir communities, the success of the project is obvious. Before its beginning, by lack of awareness and monopoly of the traditional law, in the area there were no schools for girls, and a tremendous majority of autodidact teachers were practicing. At present, the schoolgirls ratio is continuously growing and trained educators provide pedagogically consistent learning programmes, inter alia through the use of ICTs. A special attention is given to the quality of schooling.

The project has been implemented by the Developments in Literacy (DIL) and Khwendo Kor (KK) under the auspices of NetAid. Due to the highly satisfactory outcome, the project concept has been replicated in many other provinces of Pakistan as well as in other emerging countries as Afghanistan, Peru, Colombia, Zimbabwe and Haiti.

Partners: Developments in Literacy (DIL), Khwendo Kor (KK) under the auspices of NetAid

Source: NetAid and The Communication Initiative


 Indira Soochna Shakti (ISS) - Chhattisgarh, India

Success Strategy: The project was launched in 2001 to increase access on the part of 250,000 girls in all 1605 state high schools to information technology (IT) education. Young volunteers, having been empowered with IT education, then lead a broader state initiative to bring locally relevant information and IT to all citizens. In the process, girls emerge as technology resource persons and community leaders.

Indira Soochna Shakti (ISS)'s central strategy is using private-public partnership to bring IT education to high-school girls in a cost-effective way. The government-affiliated Chhattisgarh Infotech Promotion Society (CHiPS) selects a private partner through open-competitive-transparent bidding for a 3-year period (as of this writing, the partner is AISECT, an IT education society). This entrepreneur is provided space in the schools and permitted commercial IT use outside school sessions. In return, the government pays a cost-competitive fee of US $1.1 (Rs. 54) per girl per month. In the first project year, the government paid for the IT education of girls from disadvantaged segments of society. Beginning in July 2002, the government paid for the IT education of girls from all segments of society. Boys were to pay their own fee.

Forty-four percent of the schools reached by ISS are in forest areas; many of these schools had to be connected to electric lines before computers could be installed. In other schools, extra rooms had to be constructed. Suitable instructors were not available locally in remote villages, so teachers were brought in from cities. The National Centre for Software Technology (NCST) helped identify a local language solution providing integration of data with a platform-independent end-to-end scaleable model. This approach is designed to solve the problem of diversity of incompatible local language solutions.

While an end in itself, this education is also meant to equip ISS girls to take part in the Chhattisgarh Online information for Citizen Empowerment (CHOiCE) Project, which reflects the government's vision of ensuring access to information on the part of all citizens. The key strategy here is building a human network to support the development of a technological network. Specifically, as part of CHOiCE, ISS volunteers share networked handheld community computers in villages, routing information and information-enabled services of local relevance. The goal is to network all Village Councils. The pilot phase of the project is under implementation in 246 villages; ultimately, all 9,129 Village Councils in the state will be covered. ISS volunteers will also assist in the creation of a Citizen Database and Village Resources Database for CHOiCE as part of the People's Reports initiative (in association with the UNDP and the Planning Commission of India).

Partners: Indira Soochna Shakti (ISS), CHiPS; a private partner (currently AISECT); NCST; local government (Mahasamund, Bagbahra and Fingeshwar Blocks); National Informatics Centre (NIC); Planning Commission of India; UNDP; Village Councils

Source: The Communication Initiative website and ISS site


 Meeting the Development and Participation Rights of Adolescent Girls - Malawi

Success Strategy: Meeting the Development and Participation Rights of Adolescent Girls is an effort to increase gender equity and equality through skills development. The project focuses on "the life situation of adolescent girls in a holistic manner with the purpose of creating an enabling environment for adolescent girls' equal participation in leadership and decision-making processes in all spheres of society."

The project identified 5 barriers to girls' obtaining equality - they included low participation of girls in development activities in the communities, poor education attainment, poor reproductive health, lack of vocational skills training, and low socio-economic status. The project's strategy is to address these barriers through different channels (education, computer literacy, rising awareness) and in a manner that includes the whole community. The aim is to facilitate positive changes in attitude and behaviour on the part of the community.

Partners: UNF/UNAIDS, Department of Youth (DOY) of the Ministry of Gender, Youth and Community Services (MGYCS), National Youth Council of Malawi (NYCOM), and Banja la Mtsogolo (BLM).

Source: The Communication Initiative website


 Giri Pragna


Success Strategy: Giri Pragna means enriching tribal knowledge. ‘Tribals’ are aboriginals in their respective regions, miles away from civilization. Governments and Private Organizations presume that providing normal schooling is enough. ‘Giri Pragna’ Project is based on the concept of the IT Visionary Sri Rajendra Narendra Nimje that if opportunity is provided, tribals too can succeed. Giri Pragna provides opportunities to tribal children in 50 school complexes covering Class VI to X, 10,000 children per annum for computer education and Computer Aided Education and teacher’s training in a systematic way.

 

Computer Education syllabus can be changed as per the need every year which will ensure tuning with time. The broad band revolution is due in few years in India and the connectivity will change the methods of harnessing and evaluation of learning and teaching methods. Trained teachers during the initial period of three years will act as resource persons to cover hundreds of schools in Government sectors in coming years. Project is conceived as a continuous educational initiative and funds are provided for three years in advance. Many Non Resident Indians have shown interest to expand the project to other schools. Giri Pragna will cover all tribal families for computer education by 2008.

Partners: ITDA, Khammam owns the project who is the prime body for tribal development in Andhra Pradesh State. It has 50 School complexes in Khammam district for imparting primary and secondary education for tribal children. Project has tapped the resources of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), a Government of India’s initiative to strengthen education in the country. ITDA provided hardware, software, CBT material, furniture at each school complex. Trained computer professionals are deployed to provide training to students and teachers in all school complexes.

Awards: Stockholm Challenge Award 2005

Source: The Stockholm Challenge website

For more information: see the website of the organization


 OKN in Nepal Raises Hopes Among Rural Women

Jhuwani Community Library

Success strategy: For more than a decade, READ - Rural Education And Development, Nepal - has been building community libraries. These libraries are run with the active participation of the community and have their own income generating scheme for meeting operating costs and financial sustainability. Over time they have organically expanded into community centres, dynamically involved in the overall development activities of the community.

The community libraries are contributing in diverse fields, such as education, health, empowerment, childhood development and cultural promotion. They provide knowledge, information, inspiration, support and above all motivation to drive the community into shaping its own future. The establishment of libraries spurs progress and development in the area, and this in turn creates positive changes and growth opportunities for the library itself.

Launching of OKN in Nepal

In July, 2005, a new component was added to the myriad activities at Jhuwani Library - the Open Knowledge Network (OKN) project was launched. This project includes the installation of computers in the library and provision of training to the community on the use of computers for addressing issues in the community.

This could be possible by making the people more informed about more societies, by bridging the technological divide between men and women & rural and urban families. It is expected that they can also voice their concerns and share their experiences.

Women are looking forward to working on raising the status of rural women and creating space for their own identity. They are also hoping to use ICT tools to get united for their progress and achievement. The formation of women’s groups within the community centres has helped the women to gain self-confidence through increased interaction, encouraged their journey into the public sphere and honed them for participation in decision-making roles. Jhuwani Community Library and OKN are planning to continue organizing frequent awareness raising programs for women, and organizes interaction programs promoting dialogue and discussion around women's rights. This platform has helped them to identify problems within their areas and to seek solutions through dialogues with concerned parties.

Partners: Jhuwani Community Library and the Open Knowledge Net (OKN)

Source: OneWorld website


 Radio Ujjas - Kutch, Gujarat, India

Success Strategy: Kutch Mahila Vikas Sangathan (KMVS) is an independent organisation of more than 10,000 rural women focusing on adolescent girls' education, basic functional literacy with sangathan (women's group) members, and development of context-specific educational curricula for literates and neo-literates. In 1995, the government made a provision that 33% of the members of panchayat bodies should be women. In an effort to meet women's demand for training for that role, and to create a more conducive environment, KMVS and the Drishti Media Collective developed a docu-drama.

Broadcast on All India Radio, Kujal Paanje Kutchji focused on the participation of women in village-level panchayats through the character of Rani, the first woman sarpanch of Ujjas. Kujal drew more than 1,400 audience letters. Another Radio Ujjas serial (Kutch Lokji Vaani) drew 1,560 postcards, 16.55% from women. KMVS comments: "With the empowerment of a network of women's groups at the village level (sangathans), women are articulating the need to equip themselves with more information and skills in order to intervene successfully in the larger social and political process."

Furthermore, the stakeholders work to develop various participatory, local-language radio programmes in an effort to generate and reflect on debate about local concerns, needs, priorities, and issues. The omnipresence of local folklore, music, and characters highlights the aim of staying true to Kutch culture, while also providing important information and supporting literacy efforts. The programmes are designed to respond timely to the information and participation needs of the community members. Radio could also have a big role of a social buffer suddenly needed as a result of natural and manmade disasters or critical situations, such as earthquakes, armed conflicts or unemployment. This empowerment and conciliation media par excellence embraces not only a comprehensive spectrum of social emotions but also provide an extremely powerful channel for evacuation of negative reactions tagainst unsatisfactory reality through a broad fora opportunity. Hence the radio social and political benefit is precious.

A complementary educational activity was initiated with the creation of 'Ujjas Mahiti Kendra' (Ujjas Information Centre), out of which members began publishing a newsletter called 'Ujjas'. Its principal objective is to disseminate locally relevant information about and among village people, particularly women.

Throughout the above process, organisers say that they have "realised radio's affinity with oral, non-literate cultures; it can easily reflect and generate debate on local concerns, needs, priorities and issues. This highly localized programming brings pluralism into our broadcast culture; it gives a sense of selfhood and how a radio programme in local language affirms local cultural identities. This type of programmes are participatory in contrast to the alienated spectatorship on the part of the audience in mainstream media."

Partners: KMVS, Drishti Media Collective, The Centre for Alternatives in Education (Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad), with financial support from the UNDP-GOI.

Source: The Communication Initiative website


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