One of the key premises of our work on Equal Rating is to come to a better understanding of the barriers to access that users face today. What are the kind of experiences and content users want? How and why do people use the Internet to have the most positive and productive impact on their lives? How can we unleash and educate about the potential the Internet offers to those who have had no experience with it before? According to Professor Rahul Dé, who is the Hewlett-Packard Chair Professor in ICT for Sustainable Economic Development at IIM Bangalore, these are the critical questions that need to be addressed when talking about connecting people to the Internet.
Professor Dé kindly followed the invitation to join an Equal Rating Innovation workshop our team held in Bangalore, adding valuable insights from his extensive research around development and economic impact of open source software as well as the evaluation of e-Government systems.
His keynote was complemented by participants of Mozilla’s DinoTank India “Connecting Rural Women” workshop who presented first results and on the ground perspectives around Internet usage and Equal Rating. The DinoTank team comprised of around 25 staff, volunteers, and allies in the Bangalore community. They applied Design Thinking methodologies to the problem statement proposed by Mozilla India community members Vsnisha Srivastav and Shagufta Methwani at the 2016 Mozilla All Hands in London:
“India is the second largest Internet user base, but also has one of the greatest online gender disparities. Girls were told by their parents that the Internet is not safe for women, and that’s why women should not use the internet. The women in India are at risk of getting left behind as the world goes online. In villages, generally parents do not allow girls to continue their education after 8th grade. While even urban women are coming online, rural women are struggling. There are many women out there who do not know what the Internet is, and have never seen a laptop or tablet before. If they were able to get online, there would be a massive transformation in the live of these women. With the knowledge they would obtain, they would be able to earn an income and stand on their own feet.”
The full result report will be published soon and we’re looking forward to seeing and supporting more research in this field. Because it is qualitative local experience that is needed to stimulate innovative and holistic solutions in providing affordable access and cultivating digital literacy. This is what we hope to catalyze with our Equal Rating Innovation Challenge.