They come from rural areas of the poorest region in Brazil. Until a few months ago, their routine was to wake up before the sun rises, work in the crops, cut sugar cane and work at home at night in household chores. Now, they have a new activity to dedicate themselves: to learn to use a computer and navigate in the Internet. And to speak up.

Twenty-five women who are leaders in the women’s movement in their region – the Zona da Mata in Pernambuco - are being educated to the use of ICTs in order to help mobilize women’s organizations on issues such as abortion, labour and social rights, sexual and reproductive health and other themes. In the total, there are five groups being trained – they come from different municipalities in the south region of Pernambuco. Some of them come from farms which are really far from any urban center, but they always manage to be present when the classes happen. The curriculum includes technical aspects and practical classes and also the discussion about relevant content focusing on gender, campaigning, writing to the Internet. These women are the participants of the project Connection G – research and intervention -, which is being implemented by the NGO SOS Corpo, and financed by the MacArthur Foundation. The objective of the Connection G project is to promote the digital inclusion of women in rural areas of Pernambuco, focusing on sexual and reproductive rights.

The activities that are being implemented include a discussion regarding the relation between sexual and reproductive rights and the ICTs and the importance of the participation of women on social and electronic networks. The strategy is to use feminist content allied to ICTs to discuss, mobilize and articulate networks around the issue, strenghtening the political actions of women’s organizations in the region. “The specific issues of these women cannot be hidden behind the sugar cane leaves. It’s time to get articulated with other organizations in order to empower these women and the women’s movement”, says Micheline Americo, the project coordinator.

In order to socialize and strenghten the debate around the content that is being produced within the Connection G project, materials are being shared and distributed to all the 21 municipalities in Zona da Mata, through local campaigns, interviews and community radio programs – in a coordinated action with the Network of Women in Radio. They’re also working on material such as guides, manuals and leaflets addressing specific themes – abortion was the issue they worked with in the end of september. “Before we had access to computers, everything was so difficult! We needed more money, more effort, more time” says Maria Antonia Silveira, one of the participants of Connection G.

The next step of the project is to fundraise in order to buy computers and pay for the access to the Internet to all the organizations involved. “We’re trying to establish partnerships with private companies, governments and cooperation agencies in order to implement the connection in all these local NGOs which are participating in Connection G – and, after this, to open telecenters and benefit all the community”, says Micheline.

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