based goods and services(such as spices, groceries ordecorative items) to augmenttheir income. Aside rom theirnancial success, there has beena change in the status o theentrepreneurs, who have movedrom undertaking odd marketing jobs or working as agriculturallabourers to becoming kioskowners. Ater the initialscepticism and gossip aboutwomen’s capacity to be IT kioskoperators, women’s hard workand dedicated service ensuredthat the kiosk unctioned –and continued to unction – inan eective manner. Womenoperators strongly believe thattheir work in the kiosk broughtthem a new visibility and respectin the community, especially inthe
. Mr. Jaju conrmsthis: ‘the power equationschanged. In many cases, womenstood or elections and became
. It also helpedgenerate a new SHG movementin terms o linkages’.The positive spillover oengaging women entrepreneursis also refected in the actthat 30-40 per cent o thecitizens who came to registeronline complaints through thegrievance redressal mechanismwere women, and these werecomplaints against non-deliveryo services by
representatives and ocials in
IT for Change Case Study, Rural eSeva kiosks
positions o power. Accordingto Ms. Nagashiromani, anentrepreneur in Denduluru:‘Had the centre been run by aman, women would not havecome orward. It is because thecentre is run by a woman thatthey eel comortable’. Such avision is also accepted by districtocials.While IT projects attempt tobring about governance reormand challenge the power heldtraditionally by elites at ocialand community levels, theyconront trade-os in deningparameters o success in theirdesign and implementation. Thisis evident in
. The choiceso creating stakeholder interestand bringing in maximum buy-in rom dierent departmentsand ocials by allowing themto choose the ‘beneciaries’under their dierent schemes,meant that certain other agenda– ensuring greater ownershipo centres by SHG women andthose rom disadvantagedcaste groups; securing thecooperation and involvement olocal
; and setting upprocesses or wider communityparticipation – all had to takea back seat. Also, the need toget the project running in anextremely short span o time,so as to prove the possibilitieso IT in a large-scale project,meant that other processesdealing with the inormationand communication context, andpower relations embedded withinthis context at the communitylevel, had to be hastened orsidelined.
What do rural eSevakiosks tell us aboutgender in ICTD projects?
Business models may come inthe way of development goals
The twin goals o the projectwere to provide the most cost-eective technology solutionsand ensure that the servicedelivery person makes a decentincome through kiosk operations.In this regard, the project wasound to be sustainable as newapplications and new uses oexisting devices and processesare still being evolved by the
implementation team.Yet, in the extension centres atthe village level (RSDP centres),the inability o the centres togenerate sucient incometo oset monthly expenses,due to the lack o a demandpool at the village level, led tothem being considered as ‘sickcentres’ in need o alternatestrategies and services. Whilenancial sustainability isimportant, making it a concernoverriding other developmentgoals is problematic, particularlywhen there may be severalintangible ways in whichwomen entrepreneurs arebeneting through their newroles, status and opportunities,and women users in thecommunity are beneting romthe newly available inormationand services. Conceiving osustainability in a narrow
The need to get the project running in anextremely short span of time, so as to prove thepossibilities of IT in a large-scale project, meantthat other processes dealing with the informationand communication context, and power relationsembedded within this context at the communitylevel, had to be hastened or sidelined.