Year 2019-2020

Barefoot Women Wireless Engineers strengthening community networks and community radios in promoting public Wi-Fi access

Year: 2019 – 2020

Funded by: Association for Progressive Communications (APC)

Supporting Partners: Vanitha Jyoti Mahila Sangam (VJMS Awaaz Wanaparthy 90.4 FM) and Proto Village

The community radio stations’ strength lies in understanding local community, the local language, the local dialect, the local cultural content and the local problems. This vast knowledge is also essential for community network operators, so that they can contextualize the Internet for the local community to ensure maximum relevance of the technology. While CR stations bring with them knowledge of the local community, community network operators hold technical expertise in setting up towers, resources to manage the local content and services and legal knowledge on radio frequency allocation. This creates the synergy between CRs and CNs for connecting the unconnected. In both community spaces, one of the major challenges are social and economic sustainability due to youth migrating from rural to urban region to support their families in villages. Thus, DEF in 2019 selected two organisations – the one is community radio station in Awaaz Wanaparthy 90.4 FM by VJMS in Mehboob Nagar (Telangana) and community village named Proto Village in Anantpur, Andhra Pradesh for setting up this project.

Objective:

  1. Create community owned spaces in telecom dark zone areas that not only provide universal access to the internet but uniform access to local content stored locally;
  2. Create network of 24 barefoot women wireless engineers to manage and operate campus wide wireless network of two community radios stations to sustain it socially and economically. This will also bridge gender divide in technology and internet environment.

Impact

In 2 locations, Digital Empowerment Foundation has identified 24 women beneficiaries as ‘barefoot wireless engineers’ and later they will become a barefoot wireless entrepreneurs and service providers‟ for the community. They have setup their digital centres and through that centre, entrepreneurs will provide various digital services, e-governance services, entitlement delivery, online surveys and data collection and other digital services along with internet/wifi connection for the household.

Digital centre also known as “Community Information Resource Centre” has been set up in

both the places, where these network engineers are getting trained as digital services providers.

Target Locations: Wanaparthy, Telangana and ProtoVillage, Anantpur, Andhra Pradesh

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