Technology helps Asian women balance family and work

October 26, 2010
IDRC Communications

A website is helping Southeast Asian women earn an income and balance their work and home lives. Called eHomemakers, it is Southeast Asia’s only community network that promotes the use of information and communication technologies to telework and run small home businesses.

eHomemakers started life as “Mothers for Mothers,” an informal group launched in Malaysia in 1998 by Chong Sheau Ching, founder and chief executive officer of eHomemakers. With IDRC support, she and colleagues explored how information technologies, from mobile phones to the Internet, could be harnessed to help poor, isolated women working at home.

One outcome: a Chinese, English, and Malay language website through which the now more than 17,000 members share information, organize activities, advertise products and services, and more.

eHomemakers believes that acquiring micro-business skills can increase women’s confidence and improve family well-being. This is the goal of its Salaam Wanita (recognizing women) project, for instance, that provides homebound women with technical and business skills. One of its activities is weaving and marketing colourful bags and baskets from recycled magazines. The eco-baskets are sold internationally through eHomemakers’ website and at fairs. “I earn about RM1,000 [CA $310] a month,” says one weaver, “and that goes a long way toward easing my financial burden.”

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