Access to internet is essential for learning digital skills. Servelots enable women to access the internet through ASPi-devices.
Project status: Closed
Enabling girls and women to navigate the internet for social, educational, and informative use has several benefits. Not only can it strengthen their confidence, but it can also provide them with more equal opportunities and roles within patriarchal societies. 48percent.org has partnered with Servelots near Bangalore, India, to support their project. It aims to connect young girls to the internet through “ASPi”-devices (aspiration networking devices).
In November 2022, we shared how allowing women and girls to access the internet through ASPi-devices empowers them in patriarchal societies. As the project has come to an end, Servelots share what they learned, the outcomes, and the unforeseen challenges they faced throughout the project.
“We identified Rakauna village in Varanasi district with around 100 youth (mostly female) and kids and installed an ASPi kit with a SIM enabled router. That was the first introduction of browsing and also access control experience for the young women where the router is set up.
"For about 6-8 months we used to get calls on how they can negotiate which house gets to use the ASPi and the router. We had noticed that there is contention for where the ASPi computer would be as we get calls when one girl kept it for longer than 2 months, although the space where ASPi was set up was to be open for other girls and children for the time they negotiated with them."
"In Mikipur and Naurathanpur, we worked on a group of girls’ opportunities for self expression. We negotiated putting up an ASPi computer in their area. We took a slow approach of finding a group of performers and activists who brought entertainment as a way of engagement. However, the families stopped the activity as they felt that the girls who used to bring income by selling balloons would be diverted. Our friends in the area are in touch and we hope that a low level of perseverance might work over some time."
"In the Kotagiri village, a group of archivists who work with a tribal group wanted a small router and server setup so that they can exchange videos when they visit. This does not have an active internet connection but we used a dongle (piece of computer hardware that connects to a port on another device to provide it with additional functionalities) for administrative and management purposes."
"For the Thimmanayakanahalli village we have requested a room in the primary school, and set up a high speed link. Since the village is remote, it needed a better connection. We used Powerbeams and Lightbeams for the Thimmanayakanahalli Open studio. Creative skills are being nurtured in this space and it is also open for other groups who engage on caste affected issues."
“We are directly in touch with about 100 who have benefitted. The project not only brings Internet but also engages with the community where Internet has been introduced for the first time. We have found that this is essential for optimal utilization of the Internet for groups of people with limited resources.”
“In the Mikapur and Navratnapur villages the activities did not reach very far, and we were unable to sustain them. In Navratnapur, youngsters were taught camera techniques, however internet setup was discouraged by the families. We therefore decided to focus these activities on the Kotagiri and Thimmanayakanahalli villages.
Additionally, a lot of communities are afraid of how the Internet will change their children. We have to negotiate a purpose. We also need to show them that the internet is a tool that can bring positive change. We often have to establish human resources to support this engagement.”
Servelots was founded by a group of computer scientists nearby Bangalore, India. They wanted a highly cost effective software for communities to manage community knowledge. Servelots has, together with Janatsu - their non-profit - worked on WiFi mesh networking. These mesh networks have since been provided to low-literate communities, tribal and remote areas as well as in slums. Servelots have also been working with rural schools and villages using the Aspiration networking devices to provide connectivity.
Visit their website here to learn more about them.