GenARDIS is a Small Grants Fund to address Gender Issues in Information and Communication Technologies for Agricultural and Rural Development in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP Countries).
“This prize will be of great help to us in building our capacity to promote the rights of women farmers through the demystification of new information and communication technologies (new ICTs), and through gender advocacy. This prize will have a real impact on our support activities for women farmers in the sectors of agriculture, breeding, handicrafts, and in helping them to learn about their rights via their literacy efforts. Such capacity building will increase our usefulness to other women, and to our entire community.”
-- Campaign to support and build awareness of rural women of Uvira about the promotion of ICTs for gender advocacy. Democratic Republic of the Congo.
“Cell phones are only available to 30 out of every 1000 Basotho. It is a luxury good for poor families. The GENardis project, will make the cellular phone an indispensable piece of communications equipment between the women in the Eyking project, the officers of the cooperative and the market. Having a phone and controlling it to enhance the profitability of their SMEs will enhance the role of women.”
-- Creating and using a dedicated cellular phone network to add information, value and dignity to the work of women in Lesotho's agricultural sector. Lesotho.
Gender, Agriculture and Rural Development in the Information Society Small Grants
The GenARDIS Small Grants Fund was initiated in 2002 to support work on gender-related issues in information and communication technologies (ICTs) for Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) agricultural and rural development. The programme was developed in recognition of the constraints and challenges encountered by rural women in ACP countries with respect to ICTs. The challenges include cultural factors that hinder women’s access to ICTs, limited time availability to participate in training and use of ICTs, minimal access to technology such as radios, mobile telephones or computers, and inadequate availability of information in local languages that is relevant to local contexts.
Submissions consist of research programmes, training courses, publications, broadcasts, theatre productions, promotion materials, etc. – whatever need could be addressed by the means available to the many creative grant applicants. All projects focus on innovative use of ICTs by or for rural women to improve the well-being of their families and communities.
Two rounds of grants have been offered since the fund came into being. The response to both rounds has been overwhelming. In 2005, more than 310 submissions were received in a period of two months. This is a clear indication that there still is a real need for support in the field of ‘gender and agriculture in the information society’.
Challenges of the Digital Divide
A 'digital divide' exists not only between the North and the South, between urban and rural areas, but also between men and women.
Gender disparities mean that the opportunities offered by ICTs are not immediately available to the poorest of the poor - who are mostly women.
Rural women in ACP countries face important constraints and challenges with respect to ICTs. These include:
* limited time availability to participate in training and use of ICTs
* minimal access to technology such as radios, mobile telephones or computers
* inadequate availability of information in local languages that is relevant to local contexts