The challenges facing rural women, and how thoughtful tech can help

On International Day of Rural Women we discuss Timor-Leste, and how considered tech-for-development programs are contributing to change

  • Domestic and gender-based violence has become more difficult to report
  • Women are less able to access support from their communities and networks due to restricted movement
  • Women (and men) are earning less due to reduced work hours. Less money means less independence for women.
  • Women have increased childcare and education responsibilities due to reduced school hours. These additional responsibilities add an even greater burden on women, who are already expected to complete extensive domestic and community roles.

Technology: a solution or just another access issue?

If there were a time in history to define the benefits of internet connectivity, 2020 would be it. During COVID-19 lockdowns, it has kept us connected with loved ones, provided news and health updates, and enabled many to continue earning a living through remote working.

Liga Inan program

In rural areas of Timor-Leste, access to healthcare can be challenging and as a result, babies are frequently born at home. The Liga Inan program aims to improve the likelihood of pregnant women delivering with a skilled birth attendant. Tailored SMS messages are sent to women specific to their stage of pregnancy or motherhood, with the goal of increasing uptake of services such as antenatal care, facility birth, postnatal care, and immunisation.

Women enrolled in the Liga Inan program are twice as likely to deliver their baby at a health facility, and five times more likely to attend postnatal care.

Nurse shows pregnant woman and husband how to use mobile phone for health updates

Olgeta program

In the Solomon Islands, only 20% of people aged 15–24 are employed, yet there is an unmet demand for skilled workers. The Olgeta program aimed to upskill rural women with ‘future-ready’ skills, so that they were more equipped to pursue meaningful work and careers in today’s tech-enabled world.

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