Computer Science Department
School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University


Towards a Design Model for Women's Empowerment
in the Development World

Geeta Shroff

November 2010

Masters Thesis


Keywords: Computers and society, Design for inclusion, Developing countries, Digital divide, Feminist HCI, Gender equality, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Human Computer Interaction for Development (HCI4D), Information and Communication Technologies and Development (ICTD), Women's empowerment

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nicholas Kristof argues that "in this century the paramount moral challenge will be the struggle for gender equality around the world." We present a design model for promoting women's empowerment in the developing world that cuts across individual application areas and allows the HCI community to characterize the escape path for low-income women from the vicious cycle of poverty. We conducted research in which our field studies took place over 15 weeks in 3 phases, with a total of 47 staff members from various non-government organizations, as well as 35 socio-economically challenged women in rural and urban India. Our results show that the women supported by the NGOs appear to belong to five different stages of development. We refined our understanding of our population through co-design sessions with NGOs and women using 7 proof-of-concept prototypes. We also present the application designs and our lessons from these sessions.

49 pages

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