eHomemakers Chosen by the UNDP as Case Study for Good Practices
eHomemakers team members, Web Editor, Usha Krishnan, and AP Peace Fellow, Julia Hanah Zoo, went to Colombo to participate in the UNDP regional workshop on ‘Local Poverty Reduction and MDG Localization’ from October 29 – 31, 2007. The duo presented the story of eHomemakers empowerment network and the network’s fight for urban poor women.
Earlier this year, Executive Director, Chong Sheau Ching, and former Peace Fellow, Audrey Desiderato, co-authored a case study for the UNDP Asia Pacific Regional Centre in Colombo about eHomemakers’ experience in ICT-based poverty alleviation. The case study represents Malaysian efforts to achieve the UN’s Millennium Development Goals. eHomemakers story stands out among others in the region as the only entity without core funding from the government or other development agencies.
The regional workshop tabled several good practices of poverty alleviation programs from the Asia Pacific region, Latin America and the Middle East. Even though the case studies were very diverse in terms of their topics and approaches to poverty reduction, they shared a number of common characteristics of success – poor people formed their own associations of support to break away from the chain of poverty, gained access to local market to sell their products and services and participated in relevant capacity building programs.
eHomemakers’ experience in poverty alleviation of urban poor women also contributes to this stream of assistance with a strong online network for self-help and support, and emphasis on entrepreneurship development, ICT usage and other income generating skills trainings.
The majority of cases highlight projects funded and supported by national governments and/or other international donors such as UNDP or the World Bank. eHomemakers’ ten years experience distinguished itself as a truly grassroots initiative, organized and led by women without much support from the authorities. At the workshop, eHomemakers’ achievements as a social enterprise were highly praised among the participants, as the network practices a genuinely bottom-up approach to address the needs of the poor on the ground.
eHomemakers also won a third prize from the Photo Competition which was held during the regional workshop. The photo, taken by our volunteer photographer, Asha Carlos Harker, captures the moment when Noorzihan, a Salaam Wanitamember from Ipoh, weaves her basket while tendering to her 17 year-old son, who is suffering from cerebral palsy.
Discussions about the successful replication of the cases revealed that as long as the needs from the ground exist, one good practice from a project may shed light on the solving of problems of another project. Obviously, eHomemakers’ experience in ICT-enabled women’s empowerment program lands it a pioneer status in the region as it is one of the first that responds to the needs of urban poor women to work from home.
Amid a growing emphasis on the role of women in economic development and the need to bridge the digital divide for poverty alleviation in urban slum areas, eHomemakers unique approach to poverty alleviation stands out as a feasible model for replication in the region.
Overall, the workshop was an excellent opportunity to reflect on what eHomemakers has achieved during the last ten years while allowing the network to envision what can be achieved in the coming years to keep abreast with the development professionals at the global level.