What potential does ICT hold for women in a district in India? Example from ICT Center for Women in Mahbubnagar District of Telangana

The idea posted in May by Center for Sustainable Development (CSD) and i4SD, which envisioned bringing digital skills, solar energy and potential future employment for women under one roof, has become a reality. On December 18th, ICT Women’s Center in Mahabubnagar District of Telangana State in India opened for its first classes offering training to 50 young women (with 80 in the waiting list) who wanted to learn English, computer, business and life skills.

ICT Women’s Center, located near several education institutions, dormitories and a public recreation field, has been given to the program as an in-kind donation of the District government. The project came about with the crucial approval and enthusiasm of the District Collector and Magistrate of Mahabubnagar with support from IT companies in India.

The Center has come together in a short time of six months, from its conceptualization to operation. The intense groundwork during that period included numerous infrastructural assessments and installations, materials procurement and delivery, recruitment and stakeholder engagement along with several rounds of curriculum design and drafting of curriculum content.

The energy capacity determined for the Center was the optimal solution to allow full autonomy of the Center from the grid and to enable future potential income generation activities to sustain the Center operating costs by either selling excess of solar production to the grid and/or incorporating the income-generation activities as the model was first envisioned.

During the first week of operation, meetings with the District Collector and the various departments under his purview, District Institute for Education and Training (DIET), women professionals in the locale, professors and development workers—helped to further target and narrow the training and curriculum contents, closely linked to the specific skill area needs in the local job market.

This includes effectively utilizing computer skills for business promotion and marketing, concise and effective communication using social media, presentations and official correspondences and handling customer complaints or inquiries. Based on the curriculum plan, the first weeks focused on creating a familiar and approachable environment for the participants with numerous rounds of group activities, brainstorming session, ice breakers and reflections on personal successes and helping factors for their successes. While providing training, the Center aims to create a foundational support network where personal and interpersonal development can take place.

With only a few weeks of operations having passed, much more is planned to be done. For now, the project team of CSD and i4SD shares the excitement in a hopeful idea coming true.

 

Center for Sustainable Development (CSD) is positioned at the heart of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, whose research and innovative solutions support governments and organizations around the world to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The education arm of the Center, Connect To Learn, is an initiative of CSD, Ericsson and Millennium Promise whose mission is to address the lack of universal access to quality education, with an emphasis on the marginalized – especially girls – in resource poor settings globally.

i4SD (Infrastructure for Sustainable Development) is a social impact design firm that uses innovation to change the way infrastructure systems are designed and operated. Their mission is to enable universal access to affordable and modern infrastructure services: Energy, Water, Transport & Connectivity.i4SD brings together traditional master planning, IoT technologies and public-private partnerships to deliver sustainable infrastructure projects providing access to essential services in traditionally undeserved areas. 

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