Leaving No One Behind: HNSA Launches ‘My Digital Classroom’ For Women Home-Based Workers In South Asia

Leaving No One Behind: HNSA Launches ‘My Digital Classroom’ For Women Home-Based Workers In South Asia

05 Jan 2022

There are more than 67 million home-based workers in South Asia, of which a majority are women. Yet, they remain one of the most invisible sectors of informal workers in the region. Vulnerable women home-based workers – who often work from the isolation of their homes – have little access to digital technology that pretty much enables and runs the world in the 21st century. This digital divide has only deepened post COVID, ensuring that women home-based workers are made even more invisible.

The Digital Divide

The lack of access to digital technology and tools is not new among millions of vulnerable home-based workers in South Asia. Women home-based workers often do not own their own digital devices, sharing them with members of their families. Additionally, the time they spend on these shared devices might be heavily monitored, curbing their ability to use the devices with ease.

While in urban scenarios, vulnerable women home-based workers may have better access to smartphones, when compared to their rural counterparts, their knowledge of how to employ smartphones to amplify their voice and to access markets remains nascent. Often, women home-based workers need support and assistance from their intimate partners or children in order to use digital tools and devices.

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, this lack of access to and knowledge of digital tools has only further marginalised women home-based workers. When lockdowns became an everyday reality, women home-based workers struggled to keep in touch with their representative organisations – cutting them off from a vital source of support, solidarity and sisterhood. This has meant that, at a time of crisis, women HBWs have not been able to fall back on their representative organisations when they face, for example, a livelihood crisis or, in the worst-case scenario, when they face violence at home.

Second, women home-based workers – one of the least organised categories of workers – risk weakening their collective voice and being underrepresented in advocacy spaces and social dialogue forums. With COVID-19, the advantage of a contactless global reach has pushed all conversations to the virtual worlds - especially those pertaining to the rights and lives of workers. There can be no way to “build back better” when the voices and demands of women home-based workers, in South Asia, remain unheard.

Cross- Country Classroom

HomeNet South Asia – as a response to closing the digital gap – has launched ‘My Digital Classroom’ as a part of our Comic Relief funded initiative which aims to make digital literacy more accessible for our member organisations and home-based workers.

‘My Digital Classroom’ has four modules that will be imparted in the first half of 2022. The four modules are Basic Zoom Training for home-based workers, Advanced Zoom Training for HBW organisations, Basics of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for HBW organisations and home-based worker leaders, and Facebook and Instagram Marketing for HBW enterprises.

The first module - Basic Zoom training is designed for women home-based workers and will teach them the basics of joining a meeting, scheduling a meeting, understanding meeting controls and on how to join interpretation channels. These skills will assist home based workers in being a part of various national and international meetings; and organise internal meetings in their communities through Zoom. The Basic Zoom Training will take place in January 2022. HNSA has created dedicated learning modules for workers in eight languages to ensure that it is accessible to all workers. And the module has already seen sign-ups from over 200 workers from seven countries!

The basic Zoom training module will be followed by an Advanced Zoom training – for organisational leaders. This training will happen in February 2022 wherein around 50 participants from across South Asia are expected to attend virtually.

Basics of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter will target both organisations as well as the home-based worker leaders. This training will equip HBW organisations and leaders to leverage social media to amplify their voice, showcase their work, engage with their audience, and participate in civil society forums across these platforms. Finally, Facebook and Instagram marketing will exclusively target HBW enterprises. Here, the focus will be on building the marketing capacities of these organisations.

HomeNet South Asia will continue to share updates on its ‘My Digital Classroom’ initiative across its BlogFacebookTwitter and Instagram. You can follow us on these platforms for more!