Dr. Melinda dela Pena-Bandalaria

Dr. Melinda dela Pena-Bandalaria

Melinda dela Pena-Bandalaria, PhD is a professor of development communication and dean of the Faculty of Information and Communication Studies of the University of the Philippines Open University. She has been developing and teaching online courses for more than 10 years now in line with her advocacy of democratizing access to quality education and education inclusion of the marginalized sectors and places not only in the Philippines but in other countries as well. She has been actively involved in the community eCenter Program of the Philippines specifically in the capability building component and is one of the lead persons for the implementation of the Telecentre Women: Digital Literacy Campaign in the Philippines. She’s into establishing Learning Towns in various locations of the Philippines to provide venue and space for locally generated content through modern ICTs.

Exit dialog mode

During the week of July 23, Dr. Bandalaria will continue the discussion on how technology can empower the lives of women and girls.

She was invited by Telecentre.org Foundation in partnership with the She Will Innovate competition to host a conversation with the Ashoka Changemakers community. Please, join us in this discussion by asking questions, and letting us know how you see technology changing the lives of women and girls in under served communities around the world.

  1. 413 days ago

    Anelyn Jandusay Cece

    i read about your article the impact of ict in open and distance learning in the philippines… what can you say about it?



  2. 630 days ago

    Zendie Gabitanan

    Without ICT I would like to believe that gender inequality could only be made through Social Revolution or reconstruction since gender inequality has long been embedded in cultures. But as I can see now and also experience since I am currently involved in an online class, I am really amazed by how I am able to interact with different people around the world. The class is composed of individuals from different walks of life, from students to professionals; some even have taken higher degree of education in their respective fields. What I am pointing out is that ICT actually erases differences. One really has just to be very eager to make most of the available resources she has, gather information, learn through it and apply them to how these information and knowledge could best help her develop herself.

    ICT has not in anyway marginalizing women. Rather it makes them more empowered. It gives them access to things which they might not be able to get if they get it physically and not virtually. I take myself as an example, without access to it I think it would be impossible for me to engaged in learning extra course since there are lots of things to be considered: (1) money (2) time (3) effort (4) health. Through the internet, I can gain knowledge on things I want to learn in a way that I can save time, effort, money and my energy.

    I think it is just how some women perceive their role in the society; that ICT is just for men, that only men can be technology savvy. And this is what we need to address. How do we help these women challenge this socially accepted norms and perceptions.



    • Melinda dela Pena-Bandalaria

      Very good point!! I also believe that ICT can empower women and probably in some cases liberate them. You are a living testimony of this fact as well as the other affordances that online education has. Being able to interact with fellow learners from all over the world and learning from them at the same time that you are sharing with them your own context and culture which also makes them learn from you. Through this sharing online, you were given the space for your voice to be heard and for your local content to be part of the available knowledge in the World Wide Web. At this point, I would like to once again quote Martin Hilbert (2011) in his apaper “Digital gender divide or technologically empowered women in developing countries? A typical case of lies, damned lies, and statistics” (available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.wsif.2011.07.001) as follows: “the reason why fewer women access and use ICT is a direct result of their unfavorable conditions with respect to employment, education and income. When controlling for these variables, women turn out to be more active users of digital tools than men. This turns the alleged digital gender divide into an opportunity: given women’s affinity for ICT, and given that digital technologies are tools that can improve living conditions, ICT represent a concrete and tangible opportunity to tackle longstanding challenges of gender inequalities in developing countries, including access to employment, income, education and health services.” As what had been pointed out in a previous post/reply, the challenge now is how are we going to encourage or motivate the women to acquire the needed digital literacy?

      629 days ago


    • Zendie Gabitanan

      Telecentre.Org Foundation is exactly starting how to approach Women in different parts of the world.

      625 days ago


    • Zendie Gabitanan

      Telecentre.Org Foundation is exactly starting how to approach Women in different parts of the world. They bring ICT and learning to Women around the world through organizing groups or partner with local grovernment and organizations to personally tap women in communities. They conducted different trainings giving these women sense of involvement and at the same time access to information. For example, in one of Telecenter in Malvar Batangas Philippines, there are women who belong to different age group who are really thankful that they are given a chance to get a free education on the use of computer. Based on our interview with them, now through internet communications are made easy for them to connect with their relatives abroad. Another is thankful that she is already able to overcome her fear of computer. Now she is even able to go along with her child and help them with their research and assignments through the use of computer and internet. Their reports which they usually submit manually are not submitted in a more presentable manner for it is alreeady typewritten compare to old ways which was manually written. Aside from effort, access to such knowledge enable them to save money time and effort. There was also one story where through the certificate she gets from the training, she was able to find a job.

      625 days ago


    • Zendie Gabitanan

      [not] submitted..

      625 days ago


    • Zendie Gabitanan

      To have access on Telecentre.Org Foundation Program, please click on the link http://www.telecentre.org

      625 days ago


  3. 631 days ago

    Katrina Fajardo

    It’s ironic how ICT has helped women be heard and contribute to the gender divide at the same time.
    We need ways of promoting ICT that women will feel welcome in. I mean, an ICT environment that women won’t feel intimidated by.



    • Melinda dela Pena-Bandalaria

      Promoting ICT to women is really a challenge that development workers will have to work on. The work, however, will have to consider the various contexts where the women are – for instance, we have to know why women feel intimidated? We have to know what will make learning digital literacy comfortable or even relevant for them. We have to know what misconceptions they have which are preventing them from learning and using modern ICTs. This is the reason why the approach of Telecentre.org Foundation on its Digital Literacy Campaign for grassroots women works since there is an elbow room for local/national networks to customize the campaign approach to the context of the grassroots women in the country/locality.

      629 days ago


  4. 632 days ago

    Dani Matielo

    Dr. Peña-Bandalaria, thank you for joining us in this space. I think your post touched a very important subject, which is the extent to which technology can create bigger divides, especially as the world becomes more and more online. If eLearning is definitely a great way to make education more accessible, if only men have access to technology, this will just increase the divide. In this context, what other strategies must we develop to ensure women will 1) have an equal access to technology that men have and 2) even if physical access is available, how do we motivate girls to learn how to use technology. Thank you.



    • Melinda dela Pena-Bandalaria

      Thank you for the question. It is indeed important that we give a conscious effort to determining whether women have not been excluded in development programs. Providing physical access to the women may be easier to address and this is where the telecentres or public internet access points can come in. Aside from providing digital literacy trainings like what we are doing with the telecentre women, telecentres can also develop mechanisms which can provide dedicated hours to women; discounted rate on internet access for women, or even specific areas for women where even breastfeeding is possible. The prevailing culture on women should be considered to help telecentres develop these mechanics to ensure inclusion of women in the digital world.

      The second concern is more difficult to address – that is motivating the young girls to learn how to use the modern technology. This necessiates the use of strategic communication and which may differ across countries and cultures. The basic principle however is the same: what are the aspirations in life of these young girls and how do we position the modern technology vis a vis these aspirations? The modern technology should be positioned as a tool so they can reach/fulfill these aspirations. In the process of doing this, we also have to make sure that we design our messages in such a way that they will be understood by our target audience and we select the communication channel or media (radio, television, posters) which our target audience are in the habit of accessing. Community gatekeepers or leaders may also be able to help if the situation calls for it.

      631 days ago