Village Phone - A Tool for Empowerment
This paper draws from research on, and experience from, village phone programs in Bangladesh, Uganda and Rwanda. The paper examines:
- How microfinance can serve as a platform for the provision of information and communication technology (ICT) to the rural poor?
- How a successful microfinance project, such as the Village Phone, can increase women's empowerment and welfare?
The paper reflects on the connections between women's empowerment and the HIV/AIDS pandemic. It explores ways by which the microfinance sector can help alleviate the burdens associated with the disease and decrease women's vulnerability to infection.Further, the article lists the empowering benefits of microfinance and Village Phone as a tool that:
- Is socially beneficial and is a profitable enterprise;
- Is meant for networking and information exchange;
- Can empower economically and socially disadvantaged individuals by:
- Improving their status within society;
- Increasing their contact with a wide range of people;
- Improving access to information.
- Plays an important role in enhancing rural social and economic development by bringing telecommunications services to previously remote areas;
- Changes the ways communities communicate, access, and share information;
- Helps women in the following manner:
- Against HIV/AIDS and poverty: Helps to decrease vulnerability to HIV/AIDS infection and counteract the socioeconomic effects of the epidemic within a female's family;
- Alleviating the burden: Acts as an empowering tool that creates enabling conditions for female operators to better manage relationships with their partners, families, and their communities;
- An empowering opportunity: Empowers female operators by advancing their skills, knowledge, and economic resources.