#NokiaC3ForChange - Himachal village women use smartphones to upskill themselves

dipankar paul
dipankar paul ✭✭✭✭

Welcome to the #NokiaC3forChange initiative with The Better India.

As part of this campaign, we handpicked 20 changemakers across India. These changemakers and their communities were asked to learn to use smartphones in their change endeavours – farming, education, building a business, saving endangered birds, etc. – and share the impact that technology helped them make. These stories have been recorded after the communities used the phones for a month. While we’re sure long-term use of technology will make an even bigger impact, here is what the communities were able to accomplish in just 30-days.

The story

“It looks beautiful from the outside, but our daily lives can be quite challenging,” says 37-year-old Monica Shatka. A resident of Thanedar, a small village located 80 km away from Shimla, Monica highlights the several challenges that she and many others like her face when living in the mountains.

One of the challenges these women face is the lack of suitable resources for those who want to learn and upskill themselves. This challenge gets highlighted in Monica’s work. For a few years now, she, and several women from her community, have been associated with a few self-help groups in the region. As part of these groups, they are involved in activities like stitching and knitting to be able to sell products and increase their livelihoods. But the lack of learning resources often poses a problem for them since they are unable to find the means to improve their skills on a daily basis.

Another such major hurdle on their way to success is associated with navigating difficult terrains and unpredictable weather every day. “For instance, a sudden change in weather here could amount to landslides and roadblocks, with an almost complete shutdown of daily activities. This often makes it very difficult for us to access anything, including help in case of emergencies,” says Monica who has to travel far for work every day.

Tech can solve many problems, if not all, and #NokiaC3ForChange helped Monica and other women like her access opportunities and services, making their lives relatively simpler.

Here’s what happened.

The change

Changemakers Kartik Budhraja and Anuradha Kanwar Budhraja, who are part of the #NokiaC3ForChange initiative, run a social enterprise in the village and also help local women carve their journeys towards financial independence. They have been working closely with these women to help them learn how to use technology and put it to use for their vocation as well as for their daily needs.

Monica, for example, has been using the smartphone as part of this initiative, to assist her in the two vocations she is engaged in. She is learning agricultural techniques like grafting and pruning through YouTube videos, to be able to use them in her field to produce fruits that are then used to make jams and preserves. Additionally, she is using YouTube to learn different knitting designs and techniques as well.

Changemaker Anuradha has also created a WhatsApp group for the women to be used as a community real-time notice board. From grocery needs, weather updates to emergency needs, all the women have established a transparent medium of communication amongst themselves.

“Access to a smartphone is not just helping me upskill and learn new things, which was earlier not accessible, but also making our lives easier here. For instance, we now look for weather information daily and plan our days and travels accordingly. We are also always connected with our families and can contact people in case we need help,” says Monica.

Her friend and colleague, Natasha Jaret, is another such beneficiary. A seamstress for the nearby towns, she is using the smartphone to search for unique stitching patterns and trending designs. "Sitting here in remote Himachal, I get to see the trending designs from the world and can make similar ones for my customers," she says.

More women like Monica and Natasha in this village now have smartphones as part of #NokiaC3ForChange initiatives and are realizing the impact that tech can bring to their lives.

Do you know of changemakers like this who are using technology to create an impact? Nominate them here. You can nominate your own inspiring change story too. The top shortlisted entries will get a Nokia phone!

Note: Read the terms and conditions here.