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Creating Opportunities and Meeting Needs: Techniques for using ICTs

February 8th, 2001

Presenter: Janice Brodman, Director of the Center for Innovative Technologies (CIT) at Education Development Center, Boston

Chaired by: Robert Schware, Senior Informatics Specialist, CITPO.

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Robert Schware opened the seminar by sharing some of his experience working in the field of telecommunications and the changes he has seen that can be contributed to information and communications technologies (ICTs). While ICTs bring numerous opportunities for meeting development needs, he stressed that there are also social constraints, which must be overcome. Janice Brodman discussed some of the successful strategies, lessons and challenges of using ICTs to empower women. She stressed the importance of using the appropriate technology to get the needed results and that different technologies have varying strengths and weaknesses. Additionally, technology can also be used to change what people perceive can be done, thereby increasing the range of possible solutions and opportunities. Dr. Brodman outlined some of the ways technology has facilitated efforts to meet a particular group's needs by:

  • Generating networks
  • Fostering knowledge sharing
  • Disseminating successful policy and strategic tools
  • Providing input into policy strategies and tools
  • Building moral support groups
  • Generating public support
  • Building knowledge resources
  • Raising global awareness

Many examples of projects where ICTs were used to obtain these benefits were presented (for specific examples see the Mrs. Brodman's presentation to the right). Dr. Brodman presented the following "lessons" for going forward. Getting policies right is important, however, policies must also understand the complementary inputs that are necessary for technology and address these specific gaps. Getting women into decision-making positions is not enough. These women must also have a concrete understanding of the people and situations on the ground. Expanding access to technology and bridging gaps in skills and opportunities requires an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of particular technologies and how to use the right combinations. Packaging and selling knowledge is key to increasing revenue generation. Knowledge products could include market research information gathering, surveys, questionnaires, and interviews. Following the presentation, the discussion focused around the implications the emergence of ICTs has for the Bank.

A particular emphasis was placed on the need to establish channels that will feed knowledge from those who will be affected by projects into the decision making process. This need implies a change in process and it was suggested that projects be piloted to demonstrate how this can be done. In changing the decision-making process, Dr. Brodman highlighted the importance of examining the existing incentive system to see where obstacles to change may exist. Projects should take a cross-sectoral approach and be integrative. The Uganda Rural Transformation, project was given as an example of a cross-sectoral project. Finally, innovative approaches need to be explored to find new ways of compensating indigenous knowledge, encouraging south-south technical assistance, and teaching new skills, such as information management.

Updated: 6/9/04




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Presentation Materials 02/08/01