Convergence opportunities and factors influencing the use of internet and telephony by rural women in South Africa and India towards empowerment
Access to Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) can have dramatic impact on poverty alleviation for rural women and for achieving socio economic development goals. Rural women need to treat ICTs as an empowerment tool and a means to a living. The use of mobile communication devices and internet are changing the way agricultural activities are managed by farmers nowadays. Rural women’s lack of mobility and less hands-on computer experience might hinder women’s welfare and empowerment. This paper analyses how use of the telephony (both cellular and land line), internet and other ICTs can benefit rural women in educational, business and economic sector. Women in rural India and rural South Africa were marginalized partly due to their lack of ability in being vocal when it comes to empowering themselves using ICTs due to cultural norms in India, and apartheid in South Africa. Over the years, unlike other developing countries, the above-mentioned countries have its unique ICT projects meant for empowering rural women. This paper is driven from the authors’ commitment for rural development and rural women empowerment. It highlights different low-cost ICT initiatives and strategies taken by women’s organizations, various companies and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for rural women empowerment. The paper also highlights various factors influencing use of internet and mobile phone adoption by rural women. Various bottlenecks for the community projects, factors de-motivating the use of mobile phones and internet by rural women and possible solutions for these are also mentioned.
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