WASHINGTON, March 29, 2018: The new digital age is bringing the world and women closer and closer together. Nowhere is the effect of empowerment and technology’s impact on globalization more apparent than in Kerala, India. According to the Times of India, it is the first completely digital state. Kerala’s efforts achieving 75 percent e-literacy and 100 mobile density. Technology education is empowering women in Kerala, India to great result.
Located in the southern peninsula of the vast and diverse Asian continent, Kerala is a burgeoning economic coastal province housing a vibrant heterogeneous technology industry comprised of both telecom and software companies.
Prominent names like Oracle and Infosys list it as home to part of their global operations.
Kerala, one of 28 subdivision of India’s government, features a unicameral legislature which local policy architecture responsibility directs administrative improvements and is simultaneously responsible for its local policy architecture and development of social welfare programs. The goal of which has been to strategically alleviate all forms of poverty in the state.
World economic poverty assessments measure general access to basic needs. Charting access to food, clothing, shelter and education helps to determine economic viability. As an integral part of the economic structure, women are specific targets of government improvement and inclusion efforts: a direct attempt at empowering women.
Empowering Women Kerala, India
Gender-related disparities in Kerala stem from India’s pre-colonial tribal caste system. The caste system was legally abolished in 1947. Women’s empowerment includes their access to education, basic health and nutrition, and opportunities for meaningful employment.
Technology plays a vital role in developing programs for empowering women. It is the leading driver to providing equal access to women, where access was once limited.
Using existing political strategy mechanisms and community-based programs to improve social dimensional integration of poor women to foster enhanced education, improved health and wellness, and increase commercial demand provides an operational basis for improving the achievement of the women in Kerala India.
Health deficiencies lead to educational shortfalls. In turn, failing students tend to dropout of school entirely. And in general, academic underperformance is linked to decreased social welfare and limited income opportunities and earning potential.
Creating a monolithic systemic cycle of poverty means limiting overall production. Ultimately, deficiencies in female health affect education result in subpar economic achievement across the board.
In an attempt to address the issue of poverty, Kerala embarked on a plan to decentralize its health system during the late 1990’s. The goals are to combat disease by appropriating funds on a local level to provide clean drinking water and other wellness resources. Ten percent of the funds allocated to women component plans effectively ensured access to better health facilities and inevitably better health for women.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was also instrumental in this regard. Helping to overcome logistical barriers to service delivery to the poorest individuals in the target rural communities. The Gates Foundation provides technical and financial assistance to the government of India. That assistance helps to identify new technologies that can improve public health, provide community health training and establish monitoring systems.
In Kerala, female literacy was recorded at over 80 percent in 2001. This is up from 60 percent just a decade prior. It ranks among the top states in India for female literacy.
These outcomes are due to strategic planning on the part of government through programs like the Kerala Infrastructure and Technology for Education (Kite) and the Right to Education Act which legislates free compulsory education for all children both male and female.
While a significant increase in women in higher education occurred in Kerala that trend correlates to fewer actual job opportunities. Women in higher education increased from 10 percent in 1950 to over 42% in 2012. That is roughly 30 percent in the last century, most notably in fields of medicine and engineering.
The Kerala state planning board 2017-18 Economic Review, says the state saw a higher enrollment of girls in postgraduate Government Engineering Colleges.
The limit on female employment, however, is a result of job growth rate factors trailing enrollment numbers. This is being addressed by women in the technology industry. In addition, research indicates that formal training is general. Therefore it lacks a definite unique structure necessary to meet specific industry requirements.
This is where Information Communication Technologies (ICT) plays a critical role in development. Organizations like the Nation Mission Empowerment of Women which brings together experts to recommend strategies for poverty alleviation and information technology improvements expand opportunities in technology by providing the right perspective to tackle these major issues.
These recommendations bring together different government departments to meet goals set out in their mission of empowering women.
Technology Education means new employment opportunities for women
The female unemployment rate is still higher than the male unemployment rate. However, the roles are reversed for individuals with advanced education according to 2012 World Bank statistics.
This is all thanks to digital technology.
The IT sector not only provides direct and indirect employment, but also acts as a catalyst in improving the economic conditions of the rural poor, especially women through varied networks such as self-help groups.(516 / INDIAN JOURNAL OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION VOL. LX, NO. 3, JULY-SEPTEMBER 2014)
The following programs and civic organizations are front-runners in empowerment and socio-economic development:
Resource Enhancement Academy for Career Heights
REACH, Resource Enhancement Academy for Career Heights, a finishing school initiative of the Kerala State Women’s Development Corporation was launched on 29th December 2009 with a view to bridge the gap between acquired skills and required skills, for professionally qualified women.
Kudumbasree program allows poor women access to IT sector jobs, like data entry and word processing. 75 percent of the workforce is data entry. Technology jobs open a new sector of the economy to women with lower level skills. It provides an alternative to customary manufacturing and agriculture-based jobs. Providing an opportunity to for women to move up the success ladder is vital. The higher wages makes them supporting members of their household.
Empowering Women In Technology
Other organizations like Empowering Women In Technology (EWIT) have developed a forum to drive the growth of the tech industry and are beginning to have an impact on narrowing the skills gap between women and men in the industry. According to economic reports, there are 871 working women cooperatives and over 14,000 joint stock companies started by women in 2017.
The United Nations and Women’s Empowerment
United Nations also provides help as the chief global partner pushing for strategies which help further gender equality. United Nations Assistant Secretary-General (ASG) and UN Women Deputy Executive Director Lakshmi Puri said,
“The role of youth in achieving women’s empowerment and a more equal world – a ‘Planet 50-50’ – is crucial and a key step towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.”
With a host of avenues available, the future in Kerala, India is bright for women in tech.
Lead Image: In India, UN Women Executive Director hears from rural tech gurus; Photo: UN Women/Gaganjit Singh Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND) https://www.flickr.com/photos/unwomen/ Image used to promote educational information on technology growth for women in India.