Thursday, 20 May, 2010
The InfoLadies of Bangladesh, Armed With Bicycle and Netbook
Many people living in Bangladesh's impoverished villages haven't yet been reached by technology. But a determined band of InfoLadies—young women equipped with netbooks, phones, and medical equipment—are delivering technology's benefits to those people, one village at a time.
These villages—and the Bangladeshis who live in them—are held back in many ways merely by a scarcity of information. The InfoLadies are the bearers of that information. Their netbooks come preloaded with relevant content that can be easily translated to local languages, and their messenger bags carry items like blood pressure monitors and pregnancy kits. Says one InfoLady:
Ask me about the pest that's infecting your crop, common skin diseases, how to seek help if your husband beats you or even how to stop having children, and I may have a solution.
It seems that they often do have solutions—while the young, modern InfoLadies were initially regarded as something of a "scandal," they're now welcomed enthusiastically by individuals looking to check their blood pressure or increase the yield of their crops. One man, hoping to find work in technology, used an InfoLady's netbook to get a crash course on Microsoft Office. Before the InfoLadies arrived, he said, "I had only seen computers in books."