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UNESCO Project Bags Award for Gender and ICTs
The UNESCO project "Nabanna: Networking Rural Women and Knowledge” has been declared the winner in the 2003 Gender and ICT Awards sponsored by Global Knowledge Partnership (GKP) and the APC Women's Networking Support Program (WNSP), in the category of "Outstanding Individual/Community Based Initiative, Advocacy/Networking."

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UNESCO Project Bags Award for Gender and ICTs

25-11-2003 (Paris)
The UNESCO project "Nabanna: Networking Rural Women and Knowledge” has been declared the winner in the 2003 Gender and ICT Awards sponsored by Global Knowledge Partnership (GKP) and the APC Women's Networking Support Program (WNSP), in the category of "Outstanding Individual/Community Based Initiative, Advocacy/Networking."
The award carries a cash prize of USD 8,000 and will be handed out to the Nabana community through Change Initiatives, a Kolkata-based NGO which is implementing the UNESCO Nabanna project in the Indian state of West Bengal. The prize will be awarded at a special event in Geneva, Switzerland, parallel to the World Summit for the Information Society, on December 11.

Nabanna is one in a series of initiatives established by the UNESCO crosscutting theme on poverty eradication, especially extreme poverty. Gender is a major concern within the overall theme; in particular, UNESCO identified promotion of women's voice and empowerment, building on women's networks and supporting organising, leadership and horizontal linkages as priority strategies for its series of initiatives (under the umbrella project, “Putting ICTs in the Hands of the Poor”. )

“We are delighted at the honour bestowed upon Nabanna,” said Falguni Mondol, 35, a resident of Arbelia and a direct beneficiary of Nabanna, which is innovating on web-based databases and information sharing through internet to benefit the poor women of Baduria — a remote region in West Bengal’s North 24-Parganas district — which is the pilot site for Nabanna. “The award is a recognition of the hard work undertaken by Change Initiatives with support from UNESCO in our region. It is because of their unflagging efforts that many poor women, like me, have got empowered through the medium of computers,” Mondol added.

“We are very happy that Nabanna has won,” said Barnali Dutta, another direct beneficiary. Dutta, 28, said Nabanna has opened a window of opportunity for the poor women of Baduria. “Through computers I can draw and type… More importantly I get to do social work by acting as an information source to many poor women in the community,” adds Dutta.

In Nabanna, UNESCO and Change Initiatives have join hands to explore innovative uses of databases, intranet portals and web-based partnerships in the local language for the benefit of the poor women of Baduria. The emphasis is on building a framework for information sharing, content creation, off-line information dissemination and web-based partnerships with organisations located outside the region.

“It was essential that ICTs applications are well informed and interventions are holistic, focused on whole information and communication environment of target beneficiaries. The Award has recognized UNESCO’s approach. ” said W. Jayaweera, UNESCO Director of Communication Development who led the project under which the Nabana project site was established

To facilitate information sharing, access facilities are being set up in the five ethno-cultural regions of Baduria: Baduria and Rudrapur, Taragunia, Arbelia & Punda. The ICT centre in Baduria is the main hub while the other four centres will act as nodes.

“The success of Nabanna can be attributed to Change Initiatives’ relationship with the local community,” said Jhumpa Ghosh Ray, project director, Nabanna, who is overseeing the work in Baduria. “Our confidence-building measures have encouraged many poor women to come out of the confines of their homes and make Nabanna a roaring success,” Ghosh Ray added.

The focal point of the network is research. A UNESCO research team comprising representatives of London School of Economics and Queensland University of Technology has developed an ethnographic action research methodology with has been a central platform for the project.

As one in a series of new solutions adapted to the needs and circumstances of the poor, UNESCO in collaboration with the National Informatics Center has developed eNRICH, a web-based solution for community knowledge management. eNRICH is a fully customisable interface that enables communities to quickly and easily build their own gateway to the web and other multimedia resources –– tailored to meet specific local needs, enriched with local content and available in local languages.

“We feel Nabanna won the award because it laid a great stress on ethnographic action research,” said Ghosh Ray. “The research process helped to us to constantly reassess our work which in turn strengthened our innovation exercises.

“Besides, the project was a conceptually sound one. We were helped in no measure by the elegant collaborative framework that existed among Change Initiatives, UNESCO and our research mentors,” said Ghosh Ray.

“The Computer didis (sisters) are doing a super job,” said Krishna Biswas, an information group member, living in Punda, which is part of Baduria. “Before they came, we did not know what a computer was like or its use. But now we know that through it one can carry plenty of information which will help us in our lives,” Biswas added.

Related themes/countries

  • This item can be found in the following topics:
          · Prizes
          · Training of Media Professionals: News Archives 2003
          · India: News Archive 2003
          · Gender and ICT: News Archives 2003


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