June 19, 2013 | 03:50 AM (BD Time)
19 June, 2013 Wednesday
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Technological empowerment of women
Habiba Nasreen Rita:
Definition of women's empowerment could be a process that gives them control of power and resources, and changes women's lives over time through their active participation in that process. Women's empowerment is technological empowerment, which is as important as the other interrelated spaces. Shifts in spaces are closely connected to changes in the micro, meso and macro environments, both backward and forward. For that reason, women's empowerment needs to be measured in all three dimensions and all spaces of women's life though women are half of the total population in the world yet 70% of the world's disadvantaged are women. Many women are the poorest of the poor because of the extreme forms of discrimination that persist in many parts of today's world. Women are not only the representatives of impoverished people in the world but they are also the most deprived and the cross-cut category of individuals that overlaps with all other disadvantaged groups (the poor, ethnic minorities, etc). Although actively participating in taking care of children, family members, livestock and agricultural work (food production, preservation and processing), household work, health care and so forth, women have limited access to resources and economy. The World Bank (2008) has identified empowerment as one of the key constituent elements of poverty reduction and sustainable development. So, it is important to empower women to change their lives through eradicating poverty and enabling their contribution to society.
A new dimension of women's empowerment is added, that of technological empowerment. Other dimensions, such as social, political, and psychological empowerment are also interrelated. From one of the survey we found women with ICT skills have a higher confidence level, more self-esteem, self-awareness and dignity, and they feel much more independent than non-ICT participants. The women with ICT are showing less confidence, self awareness, dignity, freedom and independence than non-ICT participants. Besides the facilities of having computer and Internet facilities within the area, the women's have to be ensure whether they are getting the full benefit of ICT for enriching their knowledge and education.
In Bangladesh, as elsewhere in the developing world, women play a central role in family, community and social development. ICT offer the opportunities for direct, interactive communication even by those who lack skills, who are illiterate, lack mobility and have little self-confidence. In the past women were only considered for household work and were left outside the mainstream of development. In today's Bangladesh, The scenario has not changed much. But with the advent of ICT, this conservative outlook about women is diminishing gradually. As a result we find more women are employed in various knowledge based industries such as computer-aided designing, graphic designing, composing etc. With this growing number of women employment the job environment is becoming more convenient and friendly for women. This changed scenario indicates a positive attitude towards women employment. Consequently parents are becoming more aware about ICT and are interested to send their daughter to study computer science for better prospects in life even if they have to pay a fortune
for their child's education. ICT is not only creating employment for women but also creating a chance for them to emerge as entrepreneurs especially in SME. Women are encouraged to take initiatives to invest in ICT and they are also improving their competence using ICT as an entrepreneur in different sectors. Women role in the family affairs, especially in decision-making, are no longer ignored. Now women earn for their family by means of ICT and this substantial revenue stream has elevated the women positions in their own households, and the society they belong to. The role models of women who actively participate in the socio-economic development can increase self-esteem and self confidence of other women and therefore encourage them to push for changes in their own social status. Information and communication technology (ICT) is not just a technology but an inalienable weapon of women empowerment. In the era of knowledge-based culture, Bangladeshis can achieve excellence through proper use of the ICT.
ICT can benefit women in many ways. It can facilitate their participation in different sectors and different regions. It can provide the information women need to improve their own well-being and that of their families. The introduction of computers into offices has improved the quality of work and scope for women in data entry, analysis, programming, clerical and administrative occupations. Moreover, ICT allows them to exchange views, opinions and information so much, which may not be possible through other media.
ICT has a strategic link with poverty reduction. The Internet, email and mobile phones top the list of new tools. ICT can directly empower women as well as poor people by offering access to services historically unavailable to them because of high cost or lack of infrastructure, particularly in rural areas. Now buying-selling or renting ICT equipment itself is a source of income. Mobile phones have already ushered in such income among many a rural woman in Bangladesh. The computer training institutes in our country should set the course curriculum in accordance with the need and demand of our country. Access to the Internet is still very limited for several reasons, like poor teledensity, poor electricity, poor affordability of computer and knowledge about the Internet. Public Internet access is very limited in the private telephone centres and cyber cafes. Though the divisional headquarters and some district towns have access to Internet, the commercial use of Internet is limited due to the bandwidth limitation. All schools, colleges and universities should be brought under Internet network. This is an emergency programme to be initiated earlier. As a result women from rural areas will be able to get access to use of Internet as well as to be trained up on ICT.
Access to ICT at university level has achieved a very limited success. The ICT penetration in primary, secondary and higher secondary level is not satisfactory at all. Only a limited number of urban schools and colleges have ICT facilities for education purpose. There is a huge mismatch between the market demand and the courses offered. We do not produce an adequate number of qualified ICT professionals in our educational and training institutions to cater to domestic demand. The migration trend of quality ICT professional is alarming. So, we should:
oImplement education programme in software engineering, computer communication and multimedia with curriculum that incorporates the latest technology.
oIntroduce 'basic computer skills' as a compulsory subject for all students at Intermediate and Graduate level.
oPolytechnics and other training institutes should offer diploma in ICT.
oUnemployed girls, women and youth should be encouraged and given priority for ICT training courses vis-a-vis market demand.
oMore training institutes on ICT for the girls and women should be established. Poor and meritorious students, unemployed girls, women should be given free of cost training, accommodation, training materials etc.
oDiploma and trade courses should be introduced in distance education system through ICT network under Open University.
oA national specialized training of teachers centre should be established for solving the problem of acute shortage of quality teachers in ICT.
oFemale students and teachers of university and colleges should get free or subsidized access to Internet.
oAll universities and higher educational institutions should be n
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