BANGLADESH: Bicycles Bring Internet to Rural Areas

KIARA BRAMASCO WRITES – Ladies clad in pink and blue uniforms on bikes are appearing in Bangladesh’s remote villages, bearing the gift of the Internet. These women, called “info ladies” ride their bikes across the countryside with laptops ready to hold Internet sessions for the disconnected.

The Guardian newspaper reports that sessions with an info lady cost the equivalent of $3 dollars an hour and allow rural women to Skype and email with their husbands and loved ones working in distant villages. Considering that the country’s average income is $150 a month, these Internet sessions are costly. But often the info ladies also administer blood sugar tests, pregnancy tests, show videos on medical advice, and even have shampoo and cosmetics for the village women, making them a popular and helpful resource.

The program was started in 2008 by D.Net, a non-profit that trains the women for three months before  sending hither and yon. So far, 56 info ladies are out there providing valuable Net access to a country where only 5 million out of a total population of 152 million people otherwise enjoy the luxury.

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