The Infoladies of Bangladesh

In a place where women dutifully give birth in dingy huts, the men know of little outside their fields, and the world revolves around the local mosque; the sight of a “modern” woman visitor astride her bike is a spectacle. The more so as Akhter zaps around with gadgets like a netbook, GSM mobile, blood pressure monitor and pregnancy kit, all deftly packed in her shoulder bag. “It was a scandal when I started my rounds two years ago with just a mobile phone”, says Akhter. Now it is more of a phenomenon. She is treated like a champion by people whose lives she’s shaping with once “scary machines”.

While I have mixed feelings about this new interconnected world we live in, there are definitely advantages for a group that’s all too often forgotten- the nearly half the world’s population who live in poverty. These people will have great difficulty finding proper medical care or the knowledge they need to better their lives, and the ability to consult a whole world of information can truly make a difference in their lives. The Infolady program is one such attempt, and looks to be a good one, with technologically equipped ladies pedaling their way across Bangladesh and sharing knowledge with the people in poorer districts.

Actually, this should also serve to remind us that a good percentage of the world barely has access to electricity, much less the internet, and we should do all we can to help make knowledge available to them when they can get access. Projects like Wikipedia and Archive.org are so important exactly because they help to make the breadth of human knowledge available to those who need it most, and can afford it least.