InfoLadies: Bringing the Internet to Rural Bangladesh Mary Poppins Style
Ok, so they travel by bike and by foot, not by umbrella, and they don’t exactly babysit; but the InfoLadies of northern Bangladesh answer questions about agriculture, disease, contraception, hygine, and even domestic violence on their weekly visits to rural communities. All with the help of the Internet.
From The Guardian:
“An InfoLady’s netbook is loaded with content especially compiled and translated in local Bangla language,” says Mohammed Forhad Uddin of D.Net, a not-for-profit research organisation that is pioneering access to livelihood information. “It provides answers and solutions to some of the most common problems faced by people in villages.”
Can there be any doubt that the internet will some day be considered a utility as important as electric power? Not when one person with a netbook and a cell phone can show a farmer the proper pesticide to protect a crop that has been failing for years, inform a woman of her rights in an abusive relationship, or begin the diagnosis of a skin disease.
Luich Akhter, one 24 year-old InfoLady, travels with just a cellphone, netbook, pregnancy kit, and a blood-pressure monitor in one shoulder bag. In a country with 3,300 people for every doctor, her organization has so far managed self-sufficiency by offering blood pressure and pregnancy tests for a small fee. Questions, of course, are answered for free.
The Guardian’s entire article on Bangladesh’s InfoLadies can be found here.
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