IFLA World Library and Information Conference in Helsinki, Finland, focused on Inspiring and empowering women through access to information. I have linked to the four full text papers at the bottom of this post.
I will say a few words about the presentation Sources and channels of information access and use in the information and knowledge society: a case study of informal sector women entrepreneurs of Hlabisa Local - Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. This study looked at women with small businesses, and their information needs. This mixed-methods PhD study surveyed 118 informal sector women traders, with trades like making attire, craft work, selling food etc. 23% had not had any formal education and 86% were sole breadwinners. The research looked at why they were working and what kinds of possessions/ information channels they had. In terms of their needs, they needed government information (e.g. training opportunities), business, market and financial information. Social visits, face to face communication, mobile phone and telephone were the main ways of getting infpormation. Libraries and internet cafes did not rate high. In terms of barriers, these included foreign language documents, lack of education and skills, lack of time (with the women overworked and exploited). For conclusions, there is obviously much to do: libraries need to be brought phyically nearer in some way, and have a more demand-driven collection (e.g. not in foreign language), promotion of services, and changing the image of libraries (seen as not being a place for working people but rather "wasting time"). Developing financial literacy of women is important.
As well as the paper linked below, you can also look at the PhD thesis itself: go to http://uzspace.uzulu.ac.za and search for the thesis (author family name is Jiyane)
- Women empowering through access to information: the strategic roles on NGOs in Nigeria: ADETOUN A. OYELUDE & ALICE A. BAMIGBOLA (University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria)
- Sources and channels of information access and use in the information and knowledge society: a case study of informal sector women entrepreneurs of Hlabisa Local - Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa: VELI JIYANE, and MABEL MINISHI-MAJANJA (University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa) and JANNEKE MOSTERT and DENNIS OCHOLLA (University of Zululand, KwaDlangezwa, South Africa)
- Women as leaders of culture and change: a paper on BRAC’s Multi-purpose Community Learning Centre (MCLC): NAZRUL ISLAM and ARCHI BISWAS (Brac Education Programme, Dhaka, Bangladesh)
- Providing information to women in Croatia: improvements inspired by feminist groups' initiatives: EDITA BAČIĆ (University of Split, Split, Croatia)
Photo by Sheila Webber: Ferry boat, Helsinki, August 2012