Girls and women living in the tea plantations of Sri Lanka have less access to technology, services and information than those in cities or rural villages. Computer literacy on the plantations stands at 9%, according to the 2015 Sri Lanka Census.
Plan International’s Empowering women through e-governance project, funded by the European Union, aims to help 12,500 women from Nuwara Eliya and Monaragala to access local services through technology.
The women and girls are trained to use smart phones, tablets and laptops and are introduced to government officers who provide services. They also use online social networks such as Facebook, and chat applications to discuss issues with their peers and likeminded people - with guidance from Plan International on the safe use of social media.
Technology supporting communities
This project is an example of information and communication technology for development (ICT4D), using technology to facilitate dialogue between communities and local authorities, while also training and supporting communities in the use of e-services. For example, 17-year-old Keerthana says she now knows how to help women in her community to get a birth certificate using a smartphone.
One of the aims of the project is to strengthen the relationship between women’s groups, civil society organisations and local authorities in order to improve responsiveness and accountability to the rights and priorities of marginalised women. The project advocates with local authorities to improve services, budgeting and other resource allocation based on the needs of rural and plantation women.
Avenue of opportunity for girls
In partnership with the Monaragala District Women’s Federation and the Nuwara Eliya Women in Action Alliance, we work on the barriers that hold back women from participating in development, and also look at social issues such as violence against women and children.
They don't have to pay for information or seek help
T. Krishnaveni, 26, had no idea of how knowledge of computers could open a new avenue of opportunity for girls in her community. “I am the President of Women in Action Alliance. I also work as an ICT volunteer,” she says. “I had no training in the use of a smartphone or a laptop but after the ICT training, I now download information on how to get welfare benefits and share it with the young people of my estate.
“They know how to access e-government services,” she continues. “So whenever they want a government service, they don’t have to pay for information or seek help from service brokers but go to the government officers directly with the documents and get the benefits.”
Learn more about why it's important to unlock the digital power of girls.