Access and utilization of development communication by rural women: the case of Arsi Zone, Robe District, Ethiopia
Access to and utilization of information on improved ways of living is a prerequisite for modernization process of any human being, as ‘information is power’. It facilitates the individual to be more rational, increases the decision-making abilities and improve the standards of life. It is a process of self-empowerment. Denial of access to information curtails the chance of utilization of information and in turn the self-empowerment. The purposes of the study were to assess rural women’s access to and utilization of development communication, to identify major constraints in access and utilization of available development communication and to identify the personal, socio-psychological and situational factors of rural women influencing access and utilization of development communication. A two stage random sampling procedure was used to constitute the sample. The necessary data was obtained by personal face-to-face interview using a structured interview and focus group discussions. For the data analysis simple descriptive statistics, ranking of obtained score values and Pearson’s product moment correlation were used. The results of the study revealed that access to different types of information for rural women was generally minimal. The survey results indicated that, the most accessible information related to reproductive roles, though scarce, were, avoiding unexpected pregnancy (75.6%), vaccine for new born baby (67.5%), care and hygiene of children (62.5%). But for other types of reproductive roles majority of the respondents were not having access to development information. Access to development information on crop production, as well as livestock management was very minimal for rural women as perceived by the respondents. More than half of the respondents were not getting information about their rights and obligations in participating in community issues. The important constraints that inhibit rural women from access to development communication were lack of awareness, work load, low educational level, non availability of nearby institutions, remoteness of the area and cultural influence respectively in that order. Among the different personal, socio-psychological, situational and institutional factors, educational level, social participation, innovation proneness, information-seeking behavior, extension contact, and sharing of information tend to be important factors that contribute to access and utilization of development information.