Thursday, June 13, 2024


Dhaka Tribune


Project to empower women digitally transforms local community

  • Many men and women have gained digital knowledge through a project, SDSGYP
  • The project started a year and a half ago
  • Aiming to provide digital knowledge, skills, resilience, and safe online use
Update : 26 May 2024, 08:00 AM

Sultana Begum, 40, a resident of Nabinagar area on the eastern edge of Sunamganj city, leads an impoverished life. She lives with her husband Rubel Mia and their four sons. 

Two years ago, she was scammed by some men who took away Tk20,000 from her through a mobile financial service (MFS). This had happened as she was not accustomed to withdrawing money from her account. But things have changed. Now, she can withdraw money herself and can also use the social networking platform Facebook. She is now also familiar with google search engine and knows how to look for children's study material online. 

Sultana is not alone. Many men and women, including teenagers, have gained digital knowledge through a project, ‘Safe Digital Space for Girls and Youth Project’ (SDSGYP).

Plan International, Telenor, and Grameenphone jointly launched this project to increase digital inclusion among marginalized communities. The two-year project is set to conclude this December.

On May 21, Grameenphone's CEO Yasir Azman, along with representatives from Telenor and Plan International, spoke to over fifty community members in Nabinagar to assess the project's progress. Attendees included Telenor's Head of Sustainability Johan Martin, Plan International Norway Advisor (YEE and Digital) Alexandra Kensland Letelier, Plan International Bangladesh Country Director Kabita Bose and other senior officials from the three organizations.

At a meeting in Nabinagar, the representatives  and Sultana shared their experiences. 

This reporter spoke with several beneficiaries of the project recently. 

Shukla Das, 40, from Bormonpara in Nabinagar said she did not know how to use a mobile phone. But after attending the program she can now use YouTube and google. 

Swarna Bormon’s, 35, story is also similar. She can now make video calls to check on her daughter whenever she is busy with household chores. 

Tania, 22, said that she now has access to news and various events through her mobile phone. Previously, when she wanted to make transactions via MFS, shopkeepers would ask for her Personal Identification Number (PIN) which could lead to theft from her account. Now, she can use these services independently.

Grameenphone’s CEO Yasir Azman mentioned that the Bangladesh government has identified 15 segments for marginalized communities, and they have studied eight of these segments. The goal is to empower women in these segments with digital skills and protect them from being misled. By December 2024, the aim is to digitally educate 2.35 million women across 28 districts.

Azman noted that the government is transforming the country from digital Bangladesh to smart Bangladesh. In 1997, Grameenphone empowered village women by handing over 'Palli Phone' as part of social empowerment. 

“We are maintaining this consistency. As part of this we regularly undertake projects of social impact. We work especially with youth and girls. These works are very important to take Bangladesh forward. Our objective is threefold – digital inclusion (to take people on the path to Smart Bangladesh), help them improve their digital skills and keep them safe so that they can become economically self-sufficient by doing various small jobs. The last objective is to consider the climate of Bangladesh.

Project officials said that the project, which started a year and a half ago, aims to provide digital knowledge, skills, resilience, and safe online use to 2.35million women, men, teenage girls, and young adults across the country within two years.

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