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Women on bicycles, armed with a netbook and medical supplies, are helping to improve the lives of many people in rural Bangladesh.

“Information overload” characterises day-to-day life for many of us. Acquiring medical supplies also doesn’t take very much more than popping down to the pharmacy. This is not the reality for the vast majority of the world’s population.

An initiative in the impoverished hinterlands of Gaibandha district in northern Bangladesh has found a novel and eco-friendly way of bringing some hope, knowledge and medical supplies to the people for whom these things are valuable commodities.

InfoLadies is a project that employs young women, puts them on a bicycle with a netbook and medical supplies, and sends them cycling around to communities ravaged by poverty and natural disasters. The InfoLadies also have blood pressure monitors, mobile phones and pregnancy kits in their shoulder bags.

The netbooks carried by the InfoLadies are specifically loaded with content related to issues faced by the rural communities they visit. Information about crop infections, skin disease, domestic abuse and contraception has been translated into the local Bangla language, and the InfoLadies help people to access the precious knowledge. Issues of illiteracy are overcome by using simple pictures and multimedia animations.

D.Net is the non-profit organisation that’s pioneering the InfoLadies initiative. In a country where three-quarters of the 160 million strong population lives in rural areas, access to information of this kind is much needed.

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