In many rural communities, a reliable network connection and good infrastructure can be life changing
Yet for many rural women, the digital divide is still very much a reality, with fewer opportunities to access these technologies. Without them, it makes it challenging for women to access important information and advocate for themselves on the issues that really matter, including their land.
As mobile phones become more widely available, rural women - particularly farmers - are beginning to interact more effectively with one another, accessing market prices, information on farm inputs and public land inventories all through their phones. This is a huge boost for rural communities, especially for women, who have historically been left out of these digital opportunities.
Since 2012, GROOTS Kenya, an ILC member and grassroots women’s movement, has been working on increasing women’s access to and capacity with technology through many of their programmes. "Accelerating Rural Women's Access to Agricultural Markets and Trade" has helped women farmers - some 131 organised groups - receive computer tablets and instruction on their use. By using the tablets, group members' monthly data on their savings, incomes, and business performance is gathered.
Another GROOTS-led initiative has given local women the power to carry out a community-led digital inventory of public land. Both the 2010 Kenyan Constitution and the 2009 National Land Strategy for Kenya acknowledge that the absence of a comprehensive inventory of public lands poses a substantial obstacle to land reform and ensuring that everyone has access to land.
GROOTS Kenya has been working to address this issue by training a select group of women and community leaders on how to use GPS devices and tablets to collect data and create an inventory of all public land in their communities. This record's digital map, produced by Arc GIS software, was used by planners and decision-makers to effectively plan and distribute funding for development initiatives. Importantly, women have been recognised as community leaders who can help flag and protect against unauthorised and fraudulent transfers of public land.
In Kenya, the estimated ratio of women to men is 1:1, only 5% of land title deeds is held jointly with men and women, while only 1% of land titles are held by women alone
In Kenya, the estimated ratio of women to men is 1:1, only 5% of land title deeds is held jointly with men and women, while only 1% of land titles are held by women alone. Thanks to these programmes, grassroots women are more empowered and are able to advocate for positive change in their communities. These initiatives are essential for advancing sustainable development and fostering the development of a society that is just and equitable.