Engendering ICT policy is an area of great importance, perhaps the most important in securing the benefits of the information age for girls and women. If gender issues are not articulated in ICT policy, it is unlikely that girls and women will reap the benefits of the information age. Decades of experience have shown that without explicit attention to gender in policy, gender issues are not considered in implementation. Despite the views of many government policy makers that a well thought out general policy benefits all, there is no such thing as a genderblind or gender-neutral ICT policy.1 Governments also say that the fact that they already have a gender equality policy obviates the need to spell out gender issues in every sectoral policy. On the contrary, there is much evidence to show that “policy-making in technological fields often ignores the needs, requirements, and aspirations of women unless gender analysis is included” (Marcelle 2000, 39). Without specific attention and action, the benefits do not accrue equitably to men and women, and it is inevitably women who are left
One of the most serious and far-reaching barriers to the eradication of poverty is gender inequality. Increased gender inequalities, even in the short-run, are having long-term consequences for economic growth and human development (Costa & Silva 2008, 9). Thus it is not surprising that one of the key target objectives of the Millennium Development Goals is the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment. Mobile-based services and systems can be a partial solution to poverty alleviation.
The discussion about women’s access to and use of digital Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in developing countries has been inconclusive so far. Some claim that women are rather technophobic and that men are much better users of digital tools, while others argue that women enthusiastically embrace digital communication. This article puts this question to an empirical test. It analyzes data sets from 12 Latin American and 13 African countries from 2005-08.
Authors: Samia Melhem; Claudia Morell; Nidhi Tandon
Published: October 2009