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IDIA2014 Conference
Port Elizabeth, South Africa
3-4 November 2014

The needs of rural women for social support services delivered through ICT: A field study in Limpopo Province

Manti Grobler
Department of Informatics
University of Pretoria
South Africa

Carina de Villiers
Department of Informatics
University of Pretoria
South Africa

Full paper

Abstract

The reduction of poverty is one of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that South Africa embraced into a national set of ten priorities. Throughout the MDGs, the role of women are intertwined, such as in the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, promoting gender equality and empowering women, child mortality and the various health related goals. Access to information is crucial to reach these goals with information and communication technology (ICT) as the delivery vehicle. The challenge of this study was to translate the needs for information about social services’ assistance to the basket of services offered by Government and other stakeholders in an efficient way, to contribute to the dignity of the women and her community and to their experience of a good life as defined by Sen’s capability approach. The study followed an interpretative research approach with a case study to gain an understanding of the functionings of rural women in terms of their need for information about social support services. The results of the study confirmed the need of the rural women for access to relevant information; indicated an acceptance of the concept to use cell phones as the ICT commodity; and demonstrated the conceptual transition of the participants’ agency role. By effectively translating the needs of the rural women in the study group, the agency roles of the women were strengthened, and their capability set altered, to assist them in leading the lives they consider good.

Key words

ICT4D; capability approach; women; rural community; access to information