InfoLady: Empowering rural women at their door steps

Lack of access to information and government transparency are major blocks in the road of development and poverty alleviation in almost all emerging economies of the world. Women, especially in rural areas where accessibility to information is more acute, are impeded with poverty, illiteracy and disempowerment, which binds their ability to support themselves and their families.

Nadia Shams, Senior Assistant Director at Dnet, Bangladesh, presents her project; the “InfoLady” model. This model is specifically tailored to provide assistance to thousands of rural female entrepreneurs through a variety of door step services. The InfoLadies are currently operating in 19 districts in Bangladesh; with a a service package designed by Dnet, consisting of 80 different services under eight different categories, which include health, family planning, agriculture, employment, finance, marketing advice, legal and ICT.

InfoLadies also spread awareness for 6 different groups, namely farmers, labor, elderly, women, children, and adolescent girls. In addition to providing the InfoLadies with the necessary equipment, being associated with a local organization or NGO helps the InfoLadies to strengthen their customer base in the community through creating reputation credibility.

The InfoLady model is currently being scaled up nationally in Bangladesh and has great potential of being replicated in other countries as well; through adjusting it according to country-specific dimensions including the market, culture, infrastructure… etc.  Dnet plans to have 12,000 InfoLadies operating throughout Bangladesh by year 2017.

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How our Regional Windows are Different: Limelight on South Asia

We here at GDNet realize that knowledge, and information, all stored in our Knowledge Base (KB), is our edge. So we always come up with innovative ways of presenting, and repackaging, information to our users. Not only do we have 7 Regional Windows, but we also have our relatively newly-launched 23 thematic windows. Again, just variations of how you can access our vast pool of research papers, organizations, researchers, and the like.

Our focus today will be on the South Asia window, where we source and pool knowledge by Southern researchers from the region. We feature the latest development research, across our 23 themes, relevant to the region, and always make an effort to give underrepresented countries the voice and coverage they need.

We have handpicked two research papers on India, that effectively depict the development dynamic of this South Asian mega-country and BRIC nation. The first one revolves around changing demographics in and the varied rates of economic growth for the countries involved. The second highlights a different regional approach adopted by the country, one where cooperation and interconnectedness are key in a globalized world.

Demographic changes, and their effect on economic growth, were highlighted In the paper discussing prospects for Asian development . One of the premises being that when people age, they’re less productive and thus constitute a burden on society, and their loved ones.

The argument follows that countries home to a younger labor force are poised for growth, fueled by rural-urban migration and urbanization. People now opt for cities, in search of opportunities and a better lifestyle. But living in the city often means having fewer children. And lower fertility rates have translated into fewer inductees into the labor force, with adverse effects on productivity.

Moving on to India’s role as the largest economy in South Asia  and its decision to use soft power as part of its regional strategy, the second paper describes that dynamic; one where “benign power,” hinging on cooperation and interconnectedness, in a post-9/11, conflict-ridden world, is the way to go.

Thanks to globalization, and a changing demography, the political economic reality in the region has witnessed a complete turnaround. As powers rise and fall, most countries now realize that establishing connections based on the common thread of history, culture, religion, and strategic interests is the smartest route to take.

We will be featuring plenty of more synthesis papers from our regional and thematic windows; ones that give you a feel for the various conversations going on in the developing and underdeveloped worlds on economic growth and sustainable development.