Women and community telecentre: Shy at first, first at last
By Patricia Peña
SANTIAGO, CHILE, 11 July 2006
The female telecentre users initially become involved discreetly, they are curious to know what is going on, what the telecentre consists of and the services it offers. This is the first time that many of the women from the communities have access to equipment.
Generally, women drop-by the telecentre because they are seeking academic help for their children (information for homework or school projects). In some way, this pushes them to get in contact with the telecentre, become interested in learning to use the computer, and start surfing and using the internet to seek information tailored to their needs or personal concerns.
We have also observed that many women find the telecentres to be a place to socialise with others, a place to meet beyond the domestic sphere were they generally carry out their daily life. There are women that have begun to become aware of what others do, the difficulties others encounter and this stimulates them to change certain perspectives on their life and daily tasks: from the ease of carrying out long distance transactions without the need of travelling to the regional capital, to improving work opportunities or the quality of life of their families.
We recently had an interesting experience relating to the use and impact of ICTs on the lives or rural women by participating in an event carried out by the Mexican NGO Modemmujer through its Rural Women and ICT project (Mujer Rural y TIC). We participated in the testing of a working model that is based on promoting digital literacy through online multimedia materials. It intended to provide spaces for dialogue and reflection on issues of importance to women in rural communities that relate to access to and the use and benefits of ICT for the daily and productive life.
The programme carried out a workshop with a group of women from the Palmilla commune (region VI of Chile) at the Lomas de Colchagua telecentre. The participating group, made up for the most part by adult female home or micro agricultural production owners, not only became familiar with internet surfing, but also shared their perspectives on the opportunities and benefits that these technologies can provide them.
The experiences gathered in the six countries in which materials and the methodology were put in practice, enabled the acquisition of a panoramic view of Latin American on this issue. This further triggered the production and use of these materials for the use and management of ICTs from a gender perspective, thus favouring the search for strategies that can contribute to improve the living conditions of many Latin American women.
Both the material as well as the systemisation provided to the Modemmujer project is available on the web: www.modemmujer.org/mujerrural
Photo: Juanita Henríquez is the operator of the Cabrati (Batuco, Lampa) telecentre. 76% of the 17 telecentres’ network operators are women.
- Article translated from Spanish by APC.