Rural women training in mobile tech
Targeting to empower the rural women economically through their participation in farming, some 200 women, who were selected from Satkhira and Nilphamari, are being trained with mobile technology so that they can receive updated information on agriculture-related issues and developments and use them for their benefits.
These women have already got smart phones from Oxfam in Bangladesh, said MB Akhter, programme director of the organisation, at a seminar on “Participatory Research and Ownership with Technology, Information and Change (Protic): The role of PAR”.
Research Indicatives Bangladesh (RIB) and Oxfam jointly organised the programme in the capital's The Daily Star Centre.
Akhter said there might have been some criticism regarding the initiative, but the Oxfam has decided this to bring out positive results, which will come out later.
Under the project, which has been jointly initiated by Oxfam and the government at Borokupot village in Sathkhira's Shyamnagar and Tepa Kharibari village in Nilphamari's Dimla, these women are using the phones as tools to get information on different cultivation.
Two women from Shyamnagar shared their experiences and mentioned that they are getting benefits but facing problems with the English language.
“Most of these women are using these phones to talk, listen to music, using facebook, capturing and uploading photographs. As many of them lack the proper knowledge of English, they cannot write captions for their photographs,” said Suraiya Begum, RIB project coordinator.
“They didn't have any perception on how to sort out important information to use for their needs when they face any problem,” she said, adding that it cannot be said that they are utilising their devices to the best of its ability.
Noted economist Prof MM Akash hailed the initiative of distributing mobiles among women with a view to inspire them to be engaged in economic activities like farming.
But it is urgent to identify the major challenges first and then take initiative to solve that, he said, adding that the salinity is a major problem for the women in Satkhira and they need to overcome this.
Agriculturist Md Hamidur Rahman, director general of Department of Agriculture Extension, said the Prime Minister's Office's a2i project has developed some innovative mobile apps and some of them are very practical for farming.
RIB Chairperson Dr Shamsul Bari chaired the seminar.