ICT for Strengthening the Capacities of Female Indigenous Leaders - Bolivia
Confederación de Pueblos Indígenas de Bolivia (CIDOB)
on the ground project
32 indigenous people from all over Bolivia with a focus on female indigenous leaders
Database, Internet, Open Source, Satelite
In the period 2002-2007, the organisation of indigenous people in Bolivia (CIDOB) has used ICT for the gathering of information on land use and land rights to support the lobbying activities. After succesful embedding of computers and the internet into the daily activities of the organisation and its users, a follow-up project is formulated in 2007. The new phase of the project responds to a request of female indigenous leaders of CIDOB at national and regional level to enhance their capacities in Information and Communication Technologie (ICT) and leadership competencies. This to increase their participation in lobbying activities and decision-making processes. Parallel, a national chapter of CIDOB for indigenous women was set up early 2008. This chapter targeted ICT and leadership as one of the pillars of their organisation.
The project focuses on the development of ICT competencies of a core group of 100 indigenous women from all regions to be continuously informed and participate in indigenous and political rights, to be able to gain leadership positions in the organisation at both regional and national level and their direct participation in national policy processes. Learning from earlier experiences, the core group will transfer gained capacities to another 500 indigenous women (1 to 10 ratio).
The project develops the computer and internet skills of the women from all regions so that they can remain continuously informed about, and participate in, the ongoing discussion about indigenous and political rights within their country. With their newly acquired internet skills, the women can use email or Skype to talk to each other, stay informed, and participate in the debate about indigenous and political rights.
The women also learn how to collaborate online by writing in a Blogs, a page or collection of web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses it to contribute or modify content. Indigenous women can use Wikis to write proposals about topics that are related to the rights of indigenous people
For over three centuries, indigenous groups in Bolivia have been fighting for their legal, cultural, political and economic rights. As part of this, CIDOB has been at the forefront of lobby activities through the organisation of large-scale national protests since the early 1980s. CIDOB still lobbies for the rights on political participation and original land rights and land use by indigenous people.
CIDOB has started in 2000 with the use of ICT to strengthen their political lobby by means of up-to-date databases and a website on legal land rights and use, and the building of ICT infrastructure and capacities of the regional organisations to enhance communication and information within and between the regional organisations.
Hitherto the project has generated awareness, empowerment and economic impact in terms of better access to land and improved land use planning. In total, 2,000 indigenous people have been trained in basic ICT and 4,000 are now are using ICT on a regular basis for commucation and information on land rights, land use, institutional strengthening and communication at local, national and international levels.
Read more about IICD's Bolivia Country Programme.
In the first phase, 2002-2007, CIDOB has used ICT for the gathering of information on land use and land rights to support the lobbying activities. Results of this phase:
Up to date land-right and land planning database;
Up to date web site www.cidob.org.bo;
A central training lab installed and maintained in head quarters in Santa Cruz;
- 8 regional offices with access to ICT and Internet, with 4 regional offices additionally equipped as ICT training centres;
4 years of sustained high impact levels (80%-90%) in terms of awareness, empowerment and political participation;
2,000 indigenous people trained in basic ICT and informaton use and have become regular users of ICT and information services.
An estimated 40,000 indigenous people as beneficiaries of information
The success has awakened strong interest and explicit demand for the participation of female indigenous leaders at regional level in capacity development to ensure their effective integration and participation at institutional level and to represent gender issues in better conditions and with more knowledge and capacity. For this a follow up project has started in 2007. Results in this phase:
- The first groups of almost 108 female indigenous leaders have been trained in leadership competencies and on-line networking tools. The project has found additional support of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid who supports traiing in local governance and leadership for an amount of Euro 10,000;
- In addition, a upgrade of the computer facilities in the training lab of CIDOB in santa Cruz is finalised;
- Additional computers (6) have been installed in 4 regional chapter of CIDOB
- The functionalities and userfiendliness of the web site will be upgraded through change to a Joomla application software.
For 2009 a large-scale fund will be launched together with Canadian CIDA. CIDOB is invited to present a proposal
A second group of 18 female indigenous leaders is trained in collaborative web2.0 tools to support networking and collaboration in proposals to enhance their participation in decision making in both their organisation and at national level
Since its start, IICD and partners have been searching to ensure the effective participation of women in ICT programmes. Over and over, the participation is hindered by various practical obstacles, particularly related to the time-bound limitations in the ability to participate in formal training sessions and follow-up use of ICT in daily operations due to other responsibilities of women related to family and work duties.
The objectives of the project are:
A pro-active and custom-made focus on building the capacities of ICT and related information and communication needs of women will assist in over-coming their limited participation in the use of ICT and, consequently in the wider participation in leadership positions and decision making at both regional and national levels, even if not always present in all face to face meetings due to other responsibilities. Being able to manage ICT tools themselves, the core group will gain the capacities to have access to information and knowledge and to the means of communication required to participate effectively in decision making processes.
The use of a virtual -closed- platform for internal discussion among women leaders from the different regional organizations, who currently live scattered in distance geographic areas in the country. The platform provides in an environment for exchange and discussion among peers. It specifically serves as a means of coordination in the preparation of political proposals by indigenous women.
The change to learn about the usefulness and impact of different ICT tools on the capacities and empowerment of women by setting up a program with three projects, each using different ICT tools.
Based on impact measurement among participants in the project, the impact has been very strong since the start in 2001:
- Satisfaction has been high according to 90% of the users;
- 70% of the participants indicate high levels of awareness and empowerment, mounting to 90% in 2007;
- The impact on transparancy and political participation of the users has also increased sharly in 2007 with up to 85% of the users recognising a string impac tin this aspect.
As for the more general impacts we can indicate in addition:
The network has empowered the indigenous people in Bolivia in their fight for legitimization of land titles, the exploitation of these lands, and general development providing them with a stronger and legal basis of existance.
The project has strengthened the organisation, communication and information exchange between the dispersed indigenous people through the strengthening of the 8 regional indigenous organisations in Bolivia.
Read more about IICD's approach towards Governance.
Indigenous people in general have been very eager to be trained in ICT as an instrument for political lobbying for land and other indigenous rights
In particular, the young future indigenous leaders have benefited from ICT
- The strong impact on organisational strengthening at local and national level has been an unexpected result of the project;
Notwithstanding limited financial capacity, the regional offices have shown to sustain ICT facilities in terms of finance and organization
- A particular problem is the fast change in leadership, requiring continuous training programmes for new incoming leaders
- A a negative aspect, women indicate that they do not sufficiently benefit from the project due to cultural and physical barriers of entry to participation
Therefore, the project resulted in explicit demands from female indigenous leaders interested in gaining power in decision making positions in the indigenous organization. This demand has been honoured by the start of a new phase of the project focusing exclusively on female users.
CIDOB is a grass-root organisation of Indigenous People in Eastern Bolivia, operating through 8 regional organisations and representing 34 indigenous people groups living in 1,500 communities with a total of 500,000 people in Bolivia. Thanks to the integration of ICT as part of their activities, CIDOB is now recognised as the indigenous organisation with most experience in the effective use of ICT in Latin America.
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