Digitally battling menstruation taboo

The adolescent girls in the 100 Smartpur villages had on no occasion imagined to be sitting in a group and discussing menstruation and hygiene practices and how to break the stereotype. Having never talked about the pain or the discomfort with the closest of friends, all of them were hesitant to begin a conversation about periods. But with the help of community dialogues and activity-based interactions, teenaged girls are now breaking the barriers to overcome the taboo. When on May 25, a drawing competition was announced with the theme as ‘Water, Sanitary Pads, and Menstrual Hygiene’—a lot of them though excited, were confused to be a part of this. Girls from the age group 10 – 17 were invited to participate in this competition and topics were decided with the aim of highlighting the role of clean water and sanitary pads in the maintenance of a healthy menstrual hygiene. All the participants drew on a piece of cloth on a piece of cloth with fabric colours. Later on, a video conferencing call was conducted in all the villages where the drawing competition was held to appreciate the girls for their active participation and one ‘best drawing’ was selected by each centre coordinator. Read More

Red Bricks And Sand For Nourishment? Horror Tales Of Pregnant Women In UP Villages
The Prime Minister's overarching scheme for holistic nourishment (POSHAN) is banking on its Preraks (assistants) to spread the good word on nutrition in rural areas. Read More
Fighting fake news is our collective responsibility
The internet is not only enabling people to fight information poverty but also to spread awareness. It is our collective responsibility to ensure spread of misinformation doesn't happen. Read More
Credibility of content is an important issue in this age of social media
We need to develop large scale of MIL experts at community levels. Read More
The Election Commission must make counting of VVPAT slips mandatory
In the age of social media, credibility of content is an important issue. Read More

Grand Jury for SM4E Awards 2019
The Grand Jury for the 6th edition of Social Media for Empowerment Awards was successfully held on 21st June 2019 in partnership with Facebook. Selection of winners out of 63 shortlisted profiles among 180 entries across six categories was done by the jury. They committed themselves to selecting the best from an impressive set of social media initiatives in each category with much sincerity and passion. Commenting on how each and every nominated initiative was innovative, many jurors mentioned that they had arrived at their choices with much difficulty and after much deliberation.
Enriching societies through public library movement
What does reading mean for a critical society? A lot! In the latest edition of Digital Empowerment Foundation’s (DEF) dialogue session DEFdialogue with author and public library movement activist Mridula Koshy, importance of free libraries and reading spaces—especially for the children—was highlighted. "A vast majority of people in India have never been invited to read; they still do not have access to books and because they don't have this access, they have not been part of a reading culture," Koshy said. Her initiative The Community Library Project currently has three centres in Delhi-NCR. Read More.
Yoga day celebrations in CIRC
Since the International Day of Yoga is celebrated nationally, with almost every individual – right from our Prime Minister to the common man – rising early and engaging in the practice, CIRCs also followed suit. On 21 June – declared as the International Day of Yoga – the members of the CIRC in Jauhar Academy, Ranchi, dedicated two hours in practicing yoga. Approximately 25 members actively participated in this activity. The Centre Coordinator, Soma Sarkar, not only set up the yoga class; she was also an active participant in the same. External yoga trainers were called to impart yoga lessons to the members of the CIRC.
Technology leading to livelihood
Ravali from Kamareddy, Telangana completed her degree in a local college in the city. In spite of being a graduate, she was finding it difficult to get a job. It was then that she decided to enrol for a TeG course. Upon the completion of the course, she found herself getting a lot of interview calls. Once the interview calls started coming in, Ravali gained a lot of confidence and cracked few interviews as well. Soon enough, she got a call from Vidya Volunteer Government job. Having known about their work for quite some time, she was very excited to join their team.
Digital libraries empowering girls
Savitha, a part of the second batch of the TeG project, belonged to the Scheduled Tribe community. Having been actively visiting the library, she was a curious student and was always interested in learning new skills. Once she joined the TeG project, she was able to acquire soft skills and also learned about interview skills. Further, she also was keen on gaining knowledge on usage of social media platforms. Soon, she appeared for the entrance for constable position with the police and scored well. She is confident about being selected and believes that she has become more socially active within the community.
Rural entrepreneurs pacing ahead
The idea with which Smartpur was initiated is being reflected in the on-field activities taking place across the 100 Smartpur centres. The entrepreneurs who were associated with Smartpur have started developing the skill of entrepreneurship in the truest sense. They are no more restricting their services to their specific villages and now focus on growing beyond the geographical boundaries. Changing dynamics of entrepreneurship is evident in the 10 Nuh centres, with entrepreneurs reaching out and networking with nearby business to organise different initiatives to ensure a larger reach of their small scale business. Read More
Encouraging blood donation
An awareness campaign on World Blood Donor Day, 14 June, was conducted at all the Hub centres of Smartpur for the staff members. In order to encourage the staff, a presentation explaining blood donation was done which involved discrediting myths surrounding the procedure. Advantages of donating blood such as burning of calories leading to weight loss, stimulation of blood cell production and more were discussed with all the participants. This was done to ensure that a donation camp is soon organised with the community where they are able to encourage the villagers to donate blood.
Internet enabling women’s agency
Geda Bai Sen, from Bijawar distict, Madhya Pradesh always used to be wary of using smartphones and accessing the internet as well. Even though she was very interested in tailoring, it used to be difficult for her to try new designs. In order to learn the techniques of new and complicated designs, sometimes she would ask for help from other people which always made her feel dependent. Most of the times, she would be forced to refuse to take up work that required intricate or complicated tailoring techniques. Soon, she shared her ordeal with Uma Sen, the Internet Saathi for the district. Read More
Resuming the fight against misinformation
Taking the fight against misinformation ahead, Digital Empowerment Foundation kick-started second phase of its ‘Fighting Fake News’ workshops in partnership with private messaging platform WhatsApp. Two sessions were conducted with local police administration in Bihar’s Bettiah and Muzaffarpur; while the grassroots civil society organisations were also educated in these districts on various tools to spot fake news and check for facts. In its first phase, 35,000 persons at the district and village levels were reached through workshops across 11 states. The learnings and survey report can be read here.
Using internet to become an entrepreneur
Dipali Ganesh Mankar, a homemaker from Sutardara slum, Pune, never imagined that learning YouTube would change her life significantly. When she came across the Digital Literacy Program, she was very excited to join. Since she had a basic knowledge of computers, it didn’t get difficult for her to learn more about them. She also had prior knowledge in making bags, and used her access to internet especially YouTube to enhance her skills in the same. Currently, she is a successful designer with more and more people buying from her. Dipali’s success has encouraged people to enroll in the Digital Literacy Program.
Capacity building for farmers
A team from International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) visited the Barpali centre, Odisha to conduct capacity building sessions with 40 farmers from four villages – Barangapali, Banbaspali, Bheden, and Bakti. Focusing on empowering farmers with innovative farming methods, the officials from IRRI counseled farmers individually and invested ample amount of time in all the 40 attendees. The Odisha-IRRI program is a landmark initiative that, among others, is looking at strengthening the seed system, rice crop management, capacity building, and crop monitoring using remote sensing to develop crop insurance. These components are working in tandem to enhance the state’s rice and rice-based cropping systems.
Encouraging innovation through makerspaces
With the help of digital activities and detailed modules, DEF is taking STE(A)M (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) learning to rural India. The project named MaKE२ aims to bridge gap between modern interdisciplinary education and abysmal rural education system and hence encouraging innovation. Modules on basic science and digital (coding) have been designed and will be taught through a visual interface. There are digital activities to connect students with the real life issues by reading experiments, watching and then performing it themselves. The module on art will provide students with an artistic perspective using games.
Mentoring young girls for a better future
Digital Empowerment Foundation and Facebook’s mentorship programme Going Online As Leaders (GOAL) is ready to roll out its first phase of implementation across five Indian states namely- Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Odisha. The programme that uses virtual interface for mentoring young girls from rural and tribal communities, especially from backward and aspirational districts, is now also supported institutionally by NITI Aayog. Apart from 100 mentees and 24 mentors, three Members of Parliament—Supriya Sule, Navneet Kaur and Nusrat Jahan—have also joined the initiative as ‘Patrons’ and will oversee the project execution in their respective states. Read More
Old age pension stops abuse
For years, Sahajnath Mehto, has borne torture and abuse at the hands of his sons and daughters in law. This began when he was old and unable to work and contribute to the family. Many days he was not fed and had to sleep empty stomach. Finally, he gathered the strength to raise his voice against the injustices and also act on it. He met with Soochnapreneur Dilip Kumar and narrated his story. Dilip immediately filed an application for Old Age Pension Yojana. Within few months of applying for the scheme, Sahajnath, started receiving his pension.
DigiKargha launches its e-commerce site!
Digital Empowerment Foundation’s initiative DigiKargha, under the Digital Cluster Development Programme (DCDP) has successfully launched its e-commerce site. Authentic handloom products, handicrafts sourced directly from weavers are now just a click away. DigiKargha has become a joining force that connects weavers, textile conservationists and fashion designers to celebrate the glorious textiles legacy our country. While craftspersons are guaranteed a digital platform to showcase their pride and art to potential customers around the world, buyers can be assured that producers associated with DigiKargha use consciously using earth-friendly raw material.

Access to Information

Enhancing Internet Rights

Digitally enhancing heritage

Crowdsourcing and Social Change
Preethi Herman
Global Executive Director Foundation
In October 2015, Masooma Ranalvi wrote a blog about her experience of undergoing Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Her blog described the horrific experience of being circumcised as a little girl without consent or preparation. What she didn’t know then was that she had just initiated the crowdsourced movement against FGM in India. She started a petition on to gather more public support for her fight to ban FGM. An issue that hardly made news in India is now being widely reported and several organisations stepped up to join her in her movement. Read More
Breaking barriers and stereotypes

#LahuKaLagaan is a global campaign for tax-free sanitary napkins that was launched in 2017 to support SheSays India’s worldwide campaign for the same, which was started in 2016. The awareness campaign was successful in breaking several taboos associated with menstruation and making it a mainstream topic of conversation among the masses and in media. The hashtag, which got over 24 million impressions on Twitter in less than 24 hours, encouraged women to make their own videos, asking the Indian Finance Minister to drop the tax on sanitary napkins. Read More

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Digital Empowerment Foundation aims to connect unreached and underserved communities of India to bring them out of digital darkness and empower them with information access through last mile connectivity, digital literacy and digital interventions. Established in 2002, with the motto to ‘Inform, Communicate and Empower,’ DEF aims to find sustainable ICT solutions to overcome information poverty in rural locations of India.

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