Gender and ICT
This page contains resources that focus on the broad sectors of gender and ICT4D. It includes resources that discuss the technological gap between women and men, gender relations in the information society, and the ways in which ICTs have reinforced existing power relations or promoted gender equality.
Resources include publications, toolkits, training materials, reports, research papers and collection of case studies examining initiatives that:
- Promote equal access to the benefits and opportunities made possible by ICTs.
- Address the needs of both women and men in ICT policies and strategies.
- Empower woemn by building their capacity to not only access and use technologies, but also to participate in their design, influence their content and shape their uses.
- Incorporate gender into ICT projects
This case study examines the information channels and use of ICTs by men and women farmers around Nakuru and Thika in Kenya. It contributes to a growing body of literature that aims to understand how ICTs can close gender gaps in agriculture and lead to more equitable opportunities for farmers.
Mobile financial services (MFS) are emerging rapidly in the developing world, with over 150 mobile money deployments live and over 110 more planned worldwide at present. Markets such as Tanzania, Bangladesh and Pakistan are realizing success and are potentially able to replicate the widespread adoption of Safaricom’s M-PESA service in Kenya. Others are still works-in-progress, finding mass adoption and scale elusive. Meanwhile, mobile operators, financial institutions, governments, and other service providers are figuring out how to build attractive and user-friendly services, distribution networks and marketing approaches to embed MFS into their national infrastructures with viable, long term business models. A consistently overlooked theme in these discussions has been women, including their wants and needs for and use of mobile financial services, as well as their critical role in the success of any mobile financial services deployment. This is not a surprise: as the GSMA mWomen Programme notes, there is a gender gap in terms of women’s ownership and use of mobile services generally. Despite the proven role women’s financial inclusion can play in advancing economic development and empowerment, and despite the role mobile might play (in 2012, an estimated 1.7 billion people had a mobile phone but not a bank account), the linkages between women’s financial inclusion and mobile financial services thus far have not been illuminated and elevated for discussion. The objective of this report is to connect these dots in the context of the developing world, based on findings and insights from the experience of women in five countries at different stages of MFS market development: Indonesia, Kenya, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, and Tanzania.
Empowering Women Entrepreneurs through Information and Communications Technologies - A Practical Guide
The promotion of micro and small-scale enterprises (MSEs) has been recognized as an important strategy for advancing the economic empowerment of women while reducing poverty and gender inequality. Women entrepreneurs are offered new opportunities by ICTs to start and grow businesses. Through new as well as traditional forms of ICTs, women entrepreneurs are reaching out to customers, becoming more efficient and building businesses in ways they could not do before. This guide has been produced by UNCTAD in collaboration with the ILO to help bring clarity to some of the key underlying ICT dynamics that are of relevance for women's entrepreneurship and to set out a method for conducting an assessment which integrates these dimensions. It aspires to serve as a comprehensive and valuable resource to support the formulation of evidence-based policies empowering women entrepreneurs through ICTs and to make possible the full leveraging of the potential and capacities of women entrepreneurs in particular in developing countries.
Domestic responsibilities, cultural restrictions on mobility, lesser economic power as well as lack of relevance of content to their lives, marginalize women from the information sector. The present paper focuses on key questions and concerns on the use and accessibility of ICT and the potential that it possesses to transform the position of women in the Indian society, more specifically in Odisha. The questions range from who are the ‘real’ beneficiaries of ICT? Who is monopolizing the course of ICT? Is there an opportunity (or possibility) to bind ICT to dole out bigger and definitely significant goals of equality and justice? More importantly, the prime concern that this paper raises is the issue of gender and women’s equal right to access, use and shape ICT.
Supporting gender equality in the deployment of and access to information and communication technologies (ICTs) involves accepting that gender relations and ICTs within any given community are continuously being shaped by one another. There is a growing body of research on gender and ICTs in the developing world. However, little empirical evidence exists on how certain aspects of gender relations can influence the ways that ICTs are perceived and used, framings which can, in turn, reinforce or reshape existing gender norms and practices. This article examines the relationships that exist between gendered access to education and the ways in which mobile phones, fixed phones, and the Internet are perceived and used in a rural and an urban Bhutanese community. The findings, organized by levels of literacy, reveal similar patterns in ICT perceptions and use across the two communities.
Empowering Women Through ICT-Based Business Initiatives: An Overview of Best Practices in E-Commerce/E-Retailing Projects
Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have been increasingly promoted as a key solution for comprehensive development, poverty eradication and the empowerment of historically disadvantaged groups, such as women and minorities in the Global South. ICT-based business initiatives, and e-commerce projects in particular, have been hailed as “potential goldmines" for women’s empowerment. However, research and experience show that to be successful, projects must balance the need to overcome structural barriers to women’s advancement with sensitivity to the limited space within which many women in the Global South navigate. In this paper, we review literature on ICT and empowerment of women, drawing upon several e-commerce/e-retailing projects as case studies to identify a set of best practices that underlie a successful project. We anticipate that the insights generated by this study will be useful both for purposes of effective program development and policy design.
The purpose of this paper is to assist women’s rights groups working to end VAW to understand some of the implications of the intersection between these violations and ICTs. It also aims to encourage these groups and other key actors to invest in policymaking processes and advocacy work in this area. This paper draws on the experiences and findings of the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) MDG3: Take Back the Tech! project. MDG3: Take Back the Tech! worked with women’s rights organisations in twelve countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America between 2009 and 2011. The project supported these organisations to research and respond to technology related VAW and strengthened their capacity to use ICT tools in their responses to violence. The paper also builds on other APC Women’s Networking Support Programme (WNSP) work in the area of VAW, women’s rights, sexual rights and ICTs.
This essay on gender equity and the use of ICTs in education looks at how ICTs are being used by girls and women in the education space in the focus countries. Gender disparity is a critical issue in all focus countries, except perhaps the Maldives and Sri Lanka to an extent. Most countries in the region are characterized by low female literacy levels, lower participation in the labor force, and lower representation in the administrative and political arena. This essay discusses the potential of ICTs for ensuring gender equity as well as the policy level decisions required to mainstream gender in the initiatives and schemes formulated by the government. It profiles a few initiatives in the different focus countries where ICTs are being used either to promote education among girls and women or to improve their livelihood chances.
From activists in Egypt to coffee farmers in Colombia, the Internet has transformed the lives of billions of people. It functions as a gateway to ideas, resources, and opportunities that never could have been realized before. All around the world, the Internet is helping people to imagine new possibilities—and then, to make them happen. But women and girls are being left behind. On average across the developing world, nearly 25 percent fewer women than men have access to the Internet, and the gender gap soars to nearly 45 percent in regions like sub-Saharan Africa. Even in rapidly growing economies the gap is enormous. Nearly 35 percent fewer women than men in South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa have Internet access, and nearly 30 percent in parts of Europe and across Central Asia. In most higher-income countries, women’s Internet access only minimally lags that of men’s. Bridging the Internet gender gap represents an opportunity of immense proportions. Internet access is fast becoming an indispensable entrée to a hyper-connected world. Without access to the Internet, women lack access to its tools, resources and opportunities. The findings from this study demonstrate that Internet access and usage boost women’s income and income potential, increase women’s sense of empowerment and increase women’s sense of equity.
From 2007 up until early 2011 Spider supported various gender-focused initiatives that sought to uplift women particularly in the rural regions of the global south. This report offers an analysis of the impact on the lives of the women that participated in the projects. The publication covers five different projects carried out in six different locations. There were two projects in Bolivia, one focusing on empowering female indigenous leaders and the other provided female victims of domestic violence with a safe virtual environment where they could receive support and exchange experiences and information. Another project was carried out in two separate countries on the coast of the Indian Ocean. The project focused on ecological sustainability, diversification of livelihood, basic training in ICT and focused primarily on women’s self-help groups in Kenya and India. In Rwanda the project focus was on integrating ICT into women’s basket weaving practices in order to explore the opportunities of an online presence as well as the preservation of traditional practices. A research project in Vietnam focused on the consideration given to gender in the development of ICT.
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) have become common place entities in all aspects of life. Across the past twenty years the use of ICT has fundamentally changed the practices and procedures of nearly all forms of endeavor within business and governance. Within education, ICT has begun to have a presence but the impact has not been as extensive as in other fields. Education is a very socially oriented activity and quality education has increased. The use of ICT in education lends itself to more student-centered learning. India has made impressive strides in the application of ICT in recent years and this is reflected in its vibrant and fast growing economy. Here, we will find out the awareness about the ICT among people and the impact of IT on students. Highlight the factors prevents reaping the benefits of ICTs and technological innovations to access them. Also identifies the bottlenecks in system.
In this paper, ICT is proposed to create or strengthen social capital of rural female entrepreneurs. A model of the impact of ICT on rural female social capital and self-employment was founded under the framework of social capital theory and entrepreneurship theory. A field survey conducted in Liaoling province was reported to support the propositions by the author. The result indicated that the implement of ICT encouraged female rural entrepreneurs to create, maintain, and extend their bonding, bridging, and linking forms of social capital, and to impulse the entrepreneurs during self-employing, finally. Some suggestions on how to build social capital with ICT implementing and how to impel rural female to self-employ were put forward as the conclusion.
This report discusses the work of the Gender, Agriculture and Rural Development in the Information Society (GenARDIS) small grants fund, which was initiated in 2002 to support work on gender-related issues in ICTs for the African, Caribbean, and Pacific regions. The small grants fund was disbursed to diverse projects in order to counter barriers to women living in rural areas. This document records the process and results, and is intended to contribute to more gender-aware ICT policy advocacy.
Women & Mobile: A Global Opportunity: A Study on the Mobile Phone Gender Gap in Low- and Middle-Income
This study analyses data, surveys, a market sizing model, and expert interviews to report on mobile phone use among women in low- and middle-income countries. The study finds that women are 21% less likely to own a mobile phone than their male counterparts, a figure that rises slightly in the Middle East and Africa and rises to 37% in South Asia.
In this study, the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) examines technology initiatives – ICT initiatives in particular - that have enabled women to develop their economic potential, become stronger leaders and more effective contributors to their families, communities and domestic economies. Specifically, these efforts helped women increase their productivity, create new entrepreneurial ventures and launch income-generating pursuits. The report also offers innovators practical recommendations on how to design and deploy technologies that are critical to women’s economic advancement.
This report provides an overview of the gender distribution of ICT and ICT-related employment in OECD countries, and ICT employment patterns are contrasted with overall employment to highlight differences. The authors discuss participation in ICT-related education and training, and differences in ICT access and use by gender. In ICT-related employment, women have low shares of ICT-specialist employment and these shares rarely show an increase. Among ICT-using occupations women tend to have higher shares of office and secretarial occupations and lower shares in scientific and professional ones.
The Impact of the BBC World Service Trust's Afghan Woman's Hour: Results from a National Survey in Afghanistan
This report is an evaluation of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) World Service Trust (WST) radio project Afghan Woman's Hour (AWH). Broadcast since January 2005, AWH seeks to empower women by broadcasting programming on gender issues in the two main languages of the region, Dari and Pashto. The report includes the results of a quantitative national survey conducted to measure the awareness and reach of AWH as well as to measure changes in knowledge, attitudes, and self-reported behaviours (practices) regarding key programme issues including gender equality, education, women and work, governance-related issues, and family life (e.g., forced marriage, domestic violence).
Recasting the Beijing Platform for Action through the Information Society Lens: A Conceptual and Action Framework
This paper aims to use the powerful lens of the 'information society' to defiine the emerging priorities for analysis and action towards gender justice.It offers a conceptual framework that takes from Section J of the Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA) the critical concerns articulated around issues of Media and Access to Technology. This paper also goes a step further to flag two more issues for women's empowerment (not grasped by Section J) - i) Violence Against Women, that the BPfA addressed as a central concern, and ii) Access to Knowledge, which at the time of Beijing, was not anticipated to transform so profoundly the very basis of power in society.
The Amader Gram ICT4D project started its activities in 2001. These activities focused on 12 villages and many schools of Rampal upazila in Bagerhat district in the south west of Bangladesh. This project was targeting both women and their children through awareness-raising activities. It aims to eliminate the difference between city and village women through computer training. Armed with this knowledge, women’s opinions are getting higher priority when decisions are taken about their children.
Developing Women’s Entrepreneurship and E-business in Green Cooperatives in the Asian and Pacific Region
Through the formation of women’s cooperatives and development of their capacity in entrepreneurship, women can become better equipped to enter the market for green products and gain access to vital resources needed for businesses. With dramatic growth in ICT innovation, women’s green cooperatives in the region can benefit from the use of e-business practices. This guidebook provides policy makers and entrepreneurs with background information in this niche area, with guidelines on developing women’s cooperatives, entrepreneurship and e-business. Some good practice cases are illustrated that can be replicable in some countries.
This e-Primer looks at information and communications technology (ICT) for development through a gender lens. It provides a gender perspectives to issues of ICT policies; access and control; education, training and skill development; and content development, and introduces a framework to integrate gender in ICT for development and empower women.
This publication is a collection of 13 papers developed for a pre-World Summit on the Information Society seminar, developed in partnership with UNIFEM and IT for Change. It showcases perspectives that critique the engagement with new technologies in various development sectors such as the media, work and economy and governance. An edited video of the seminar was also produced.
Digital Dangers: Information & Communication Technologies and Trafficking in Women - APC Issue Paper
This paper asks if new technologies are re-shaping or facilitating trafficking, and/or if the use of ICTs in trafficking will change the way we understand other issues. For example, how should we think about the distribution of women’s images against their will; can we talk about trafficking in images, and what relation does this have to the debate about pornography? It explores government responses and the tension between the right to privacy and the right to freedom from violence in the context of ICTs.
Competitiveness of businesses owned by women is usually constrained by limited access to information and resources to support the development and marketing of their products. e-Business can address this limiting factor. It promotes innovations by creating new products, new markets and even new industries. Moreover, it can help empower women by facilitating women’s entrepreneurship. This publication reports the outcomes of the International Workshop on Entrepreneurship and e-Business Development for Women that was held in Seoul, Republic of Korea on 3-8 July 2006. The Workshop was organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, Asian Development Bank Institute, International Telecommunication Union and Asian Pacific Women’s Information Network Center.
Gender Evaluation Methodology (GEM) for Internet and ICTs: A learning tool for change and empowerment
GEM for ICTs and internet initiatives is an online guide for conducting gender evaluations of initiatives that use ICT for social change. The guide provides users with an overview of the evaluation process (including links to general evaluation resources) and outlines suggested strategies and methodologies for incorporating a gender analysis throughout the evaluation process. GEM is not simply an evaluation tool. It can also be used to ensure that gender concerns are integrated into a project planning process.
This report provides a summary of critical gender equality issues related to ICT and development and outlines potential opportunities for women’s economic, social and political empowerment. Key strategies and tools to address the gender digital divide in national and international contexts are presented. Examples of good practice on gender equality and ICT are elaborated throughout the report.
This book is a collection of case studies about women and their communities in developing countries and how they have been influenced by information and communication technologies (ICTs). It notes that ICTs and policies to encourage their development can have profound implications for women and men in terms of employment, education, health, environmental sustainability and community development.
The video provides snapshots of the critical issues discussed at the Gender Perspectives on the Information Society: South Asia Pre-WSIS (World Summit on the Information Society) Seminar. This seminar took place in Bangalore on 18-19 April 2005. It was organized by IT for Change in partnership with Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era and Centre for Public Policy, Indian Institute of Management Bangalore, with support from UNDP's Asia-Pacific Development Information Programme and UNIFEM.
ICT Initiatives, Women and Work in Developing Countries: Reinforcing or Changing Gender Inequalities in South India?
This paper argues that ICTs as a form of new technology are socially deterministic, with varied implications for women in terms of employment and empowerment dependent on the context within which the ICTs are utilized. The paper presents findings from two ICT initiatives in South India showing significant impacts on women's employment, income and social roles. One ICT initiative - 'gender-blind' and pursued within the globalized, competitive context of an increased role for markets and 'flexibility' - has generally reinforced gender inequalities. By contrast, a gender-focused ICT initiative involving significant state intervention has brought about positive changes to livelihood outcomes and empowerment of poor women.
In Section 1 the evolution of the international debate on gender and information technology is sketched out. Section 2 contrasts the impact of infrastructural and gender-specific constraints on women’s capacity to exploit the potential of the new information and communication technologies in different world regions. The cross-cutting role of gender in determining participation in the information society, and the issues this raises, are explored in Section 3. Strategies, initiatives and best practices aimed at addressing these issues, and at bridging the gender divide, are considered in Section 4. Finally, Section 5 puts forward a range of actions to be considered by the various stakeholders involved.
The purpose of this toolkit is to identify opportunities, highlight innovative projects and activities, and suggest how development agencies can help realize the potential for gender equality. The toolkit can help these agencies assist developing countries in improving the efficiency and equity of their ICT policies and programmes by ensuring that they respond to the needs of both women and men. The toolkit is divided into 10 sections and it contains checklists, evaluation tools, examples of good practices, and resources that can be used to incorporate gender into ICT projects and project components. The toolkit has been designed for general distribution to researchers, educators, and development practitioners.
This paper prepared for the Expert Group Meeting on “Information and communication technologies and their impact on and use as an instrument for the advancement and empowerment of women” in Seoul, Republic of Korea from 11 to 14 November 2002, contains suggestions from the Asian perspective about possible points of intervention from which to build up the gender and ICT agenda in the national policy terrain, including developing gender and ICT indicators, integrating gender analysis in national ICT policy frameworks and policies, building government’s commitment to the advancement of women for their ICT platform, and promoting gender responsive e-governance.
This webpage offers links to resources specifically targeted at women. The resources are divided into two categories: general women- and gender-related training resources, and women-focused ICTs resources grouped by topics. Topics include strategic Internet use, online collaboration, web design and knowledge management.