Jatiyo Mohila Sangstha under the Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs has been implementing a project titled “Tottho Apa: Empowering Women Through ICT Towards Digital Bangladesh.”
The project aims at promoting women's empowerment by providing access to information and providing information technology services to helpless, poor, disadvantaged and underprivileged women in rural Bangladesh.
The project worth Tk 58576.64 lakh began its operation in April 2017 and is scheduled to end in June 2023.
The project was successfully implemented in 13 upazilas in the first phase by Jatiyo Mohila Sangstha from 2011 to 2015.
Following this, a five-year-long (up to March 2022) project was undertaken to extend the availability of information technology to grassroots women in 490 upazilas. As a result of the 1st amendment to the project, the project area has been expanded to 492 upazilas and the implementation period has been extended till June 2023.
SM Nazimul Islam, Deputy Secretary and Deputy Director (Administration & Finance) of the project told Bangladesh Post, “Our target is to empower one crore women through information technology. So far 70 lakh marginal women have benefited from this project.”
He said that implementation of this project will empower rural disadvantaged women through access to information technology and information technology based services.
“In addition to providing information services, rural women are being made aware of modern technology through Uthan Boithok (backyard meetings). Various issues related to rural women's lives and livelihoods such as health, child marriage, violence against women, legal issues, and various aspects of digital services are discussed in these meetings,” he went on to describe.
Fifty rural women participate in each of these meetings. Two meetings are held in each information center every month.
The head office of the project is located in Dhaka. The project is being implemented in 492 upazilas under 64 districts of eight divisions.
According to officials involved in the project, one information center has been set up in each of the 492 upazilas of Bangladesh under the project. At each information center, one information service officer and two information service assistants have been assigned to provide information services. They are known as “Tottho Apa”.
These information centers help rural women through internet communication, providing opinions of various experts, primary health care, ensuring availability of government services in the upazila, video conferencing, e-learning, e-commerce etc.
Besides, the information officers visit the homes of the villagers in the project area and provide various information services related to education, health, law, business, gender and agriculture using laptops.
Beneficiaries of the project are being provided with many services including free internet browsing, e-mail, and video conferencing through Skype at the information centers. Moreover, news, results of various examinations and information of various government services are being provided free of cost.