We are committed towards empowerment through ICT tools. And empowerment is taking place at a fast pace in villages, districts and towns. Technology is penetrating into people's lives and giving them voice and perspective they never had. Now they realize their potential. They are grabbing every chance they were deprived of earlier, to re-invent themselves.
We have a mission, and we are moving ahead consistently towards our goal with your support.
November brought many opportunities to move at a brisk pace towards the direction we seek.
We believe, being aware of our rights is a vital aspect of development. DEF partnered with European Union and Association of Progressive Communication to initiate a significant project, 'APC-Impact: India, Malaysia and Pakistan; Advocacy for change through technology' to address 'Networking for online and offline: protecting freedom of information, expression and association on the internet in India, Malaysia and Pakistan'. It is a key project that will work towards spreading awareness and understanding about internet rights, which is one area that is still far from gathering momentum in the developing countries.
Speaking of rights, there are 650 million persons with disability around the world who have as much right as everybody else if not more, to exist with respect and dignity.
We initiated a session on 'The Role of ICTs and Assistive Technologies: Promoting Self-reliance and Livelihoods for Persons with Disabilities' during UNESCO's International Conference. Some of the key recommendations that resulted from the session are- for the government to ensure new technologies and providing grants; for the industry to change mind-sets, have a systematic roster of disabled people, make websites more accessible to visually impaired; and as far as education is concerned, providing needed training for university support staff, career counselling & spreading knowledge of opportunities for PWD.We held two important awards this month.
‘eNGO Challenge South Asia 2014’ is a joint initiative of Public Interest Registry (PIR) and Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF). We recognised and honoured some of the most dynamic NGOs who are using Information Communication Technology (ICT) and digital media tools for good governance and practices benefiting societies and communities at large.
Then 'Social Media for Empowerment Award' felicitated distinguished entrepreneurs and teams who are the trail-blazers in pursuing social media. We followed it up by organizing a productive discussion session with the winners facilitated by America Centre to understand and improve our approach and follow-up. Furthermore, we also arranged a one-hour e-heritage walk in Old Delhi for them as an extension of our e-heritage project. They had a great time exploring the narrow lanes which still retains vestiges of the glorious bygone era and efficiently utilized their proficiency in social media to share their experiences online as we went along. The walk was concluded with a sumptuous Old Delhi meal that delighted the Social Media Awardees beyond measure.
From a great walk, to a successful run. Following up on its triumph last year; second edition of Red Rickshaw Revolution kick-started from Aurangabad, Maharashtra, India. It is an initiative undertaken by DEF in partnership with Vodafone Foundation to celebrate the achievements of ordinary Indian women accomplishing extraordinary feats across India. This year, RRR celebrates achievements of 20 inspirational Women Leaders/Farmers across 8 states from West to East India, and raises awareness at the village level on issues pertaining to governance, women and agriculture.
On to December; this is the month for our flagship award event, Manthan Awards, 2014, that recognises ICT innovators from across South Asia and Asia pacific countries. For the last 11 years Manthan Awards has created a network of more than 10,000 digital innovations that are and would be playing critical role in bridging digital divide and creating information society.This time we also organized 'Manthan Digital Inclusion Film Festival (MDIFF)' on the sidelines of Manthan Awards. MDIFF is designed as communal participation, engagement, learning, awareness and discussion through creative and innovative films produced on the subject of digital empowerment of grassroots communities through various ICT tools such as Broadband Internet, mobile, community radio, TV, Website, IVR, Computers.
We also joined hands with Population Foundation of India (PFI)‟ to promote the first season of 52 episodes television serial for Doordarshan produced by PFI, “Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon (MKBKSH)”, through DEF’s Community Information Resource Centers (CIRC), Community Radios and Social Media. MKBKSH throws a severe spot-light on pertinent issues such as gender inequality, infanticide and women’s health, that despite being a white elephant in the room, often gets euphemized under the veil of tradition, culture and honour.
In 2014, we rose and sailed while successfully undertaking many initiatives aimed at our vision of achieving development through digital empowerment. And as we draw closer to the year end, we already have our eyes and minds set on bigger goals we have lined up for 2015.We look forward to your support and participation as always.