To celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8, ITU News is running a special series of blog posts on women in information and communication technologies (ICTs). All week, we’re featuring stories about women in tech and global programmes to accelerate the pace of progress for gender equality in ICTs.
In Thailand, there are just as many women-owned businesses as those owned by men. Women also make up more than half of all scientists across the country.
Despite the gender balance in professions like business and science, only one in four experts interviewed by the media are women. But UNESCO – along with partners, including the Research Center of Communication and Development Knowledge Management (CCDKM) and AKIN ASIA – aim to change that.
That’s why this week they launched Women Make the News – Thailand (WMN), an online platform to raise the profile of Thai women by connecting them to journalists and media outlets. The innovative platform is being touted as an innovative example of how information and communication technologies (ICTs) can be used to help accelerate gender equality. And partners designed the WMN platform to be highly replicable so that, hopefully, it can serve as inspiration for countries who want to boost the visibility of women in the public eye.
“We believe that the existence of a database freely available online will contribute to highlight the diversity, breadth and importance of female expertise in Thailand. And conversely, encourage the women from the database to engage more actively with the media to make their work and projects more visible,” said Misako Ito, Regional Adviser for Communication and Information at UNESCO Bangkok. “Media and ICTs help to empower women by making them more visible and bringing their voices, ideas, opinions into the public sphere. Women Make the News – Thailand, is a direct example of how new communication technologies can contribute to foster gender equality and empowering women.”
UNESCO Bangkok, supported by Swedish and Australian aid, have worked with on-the-ground partners including CCDKM and AKIN ASIA, to compile a database of women experts from diverse fields such as environmental science to culture and history. Using the power of ICTs, they are betting that this project will encourage more gender-balanced reporting in the country.
Connecting Thailand’s ‘smart women’
CCDKM also runs the Smart Women Programme, which includes Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and online trainings as well as hands-on training and outreach to women farmers on the use of ICTs. Working in partnership with telecentre networks, CCDKM has helped to bridge important gaps around women’s meaningful use of technology in the country.
“We just finished our pilot project in promoting smart Thai women to be more visible, especially from the grassroots level of Thailand. For the WMN database kick off, CCDKM has helped create the system with UNESCO with over 250 smart Thai women, and now we turn the key to UNESCO,” said Dr. Kamolrat Intararat, founder and CEO of CCDKM.
As the 2015 ITU and UN Women GEM-TECH Award winner, CCDKM has received international recognition for their work using the power of ICT to empower women from across Thailand, with a special focus on the unique challenges faced by rural and marginalized women in the country.
As part of their work, CCDKM has trained over 100,000 women and girls from Thailand on digital literacy. These women and girls now have access to healthcare services, benefit from educational programs and have become financially independent and competitive in the labour market.
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