Access & Gender

Posted 16 July 2007

For this issue, we focused on national and regional policies on the physical - i.e. infrastructure - layer.However, this proved challenging, as little information that specifically examines this issue from feminist perspectives is currently available. Further, many other elements needed to be addressed before the gender dimensions of infrastructure became evident.

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GENDER CENTRED: A thematic bulletin

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Access & Gender







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by Jac sm Kee

There are different dimensions to access-related issues, and there are significant points of connection between them. Open access networks have been identified by APC as being made up of three layers – physical (infrastructure), logical (platforms, e.g. Free/Libre & Open Source Software) and content (knowledge and information).

All three levels (and perhaps more?) will have to be realised in order for access to be meaningful. For this issue, we were intending to focus on national and regional policies on the physical - i.e. infrastructure - layer.

However, this proved challenging, as little information that specifically examines this issue from feminist perspectives is currently available. Further, many other elements needed to be addressed before the gender dimensions of infrastructure became evident.

Factors such as gender disparity at the level of employment, education, social class, literacy, geographical location and decision making have great impact on the level of women’s access to ICTs. Gender is a cross-cutting issue with specificities that are often hidden.

For example, even if the government implements a policy programme of one cyber café per district, it doesn’t automatically mean that access is available for all equally. Do women have access to employment opportunities (beyond ICTs) to be able to afford the price? What kinds of roles are women expected to perform in that specific area? Do they have multiple burdens that take up most of their time, making visits impossible? How are computers usually arranged, and what does this mean for women’s access? What, in fact, are the strategic and real needs of women when it comes to meaningful access to ICTs?

In this edition, writers examines the question of access for women from various perspectives in Uganda, the ‘Arab region, Ghana and Uruguay.

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Revolution in ICT infrastructure: Hope for the Ghanaian woman

by Emily Nyarko

In the area of telecommunications, Ghana appears to perform relatively well in relation to its neighbours in the West-African region. How does it fare in terms of ensuring that gender concerns are taken into consideration whilst promoting ICTs for development? Emily Nyarko examines this question through a closer look at the Strategic Document for ICT and Gender in the national ICT policy agenda.

'Wanting to' versus 'Being able to': The rhetoric of access to the information society

by Cecilia Gordano

Uruguay has one of the highest rates of internet coverage in Latin America, but studies that demonstrate this fact is gender-blind. So what have been the experiences of Uruguayan women with new technologies in relation to the three basic dimensions of any digital inclusion initiative, connectivity, education and infrastructure? This article is translated from the original version written in Spanish

Do women’s access to ICTs lead to empowerment? Looking at the CEEWA ICT project in rural Uganda

by Patricia Litho

Is there a direct connection between empowerment and access to information and communication technologies? Patricia Litho interrogates this question through the CEEWA ICT project case study in rural Uganda. She examines the conceptualisation of empowerment, and its relationship with infrastructure, skills, connectivity, access and participation.

New technologies and women in Arab countries: a forest of concepts, a complex reality

by Natalia Fernández-Díaz

Natalia Fernández-Diaz identifies the difficulties of understanding feminist concerns regarding the needs and potential benefits of emerging technologies in what is usually known as ‘Arab countries’. Locating the relationship between women and ICTs in women’s movements, Fernández-Diaz interrogates the concepts of technologists, producers, users, victims and indirect beneficiaries in this complex political, geographical and imaginary terrain.

Visit the collection of a wide variety of other resources and articles related to this issue on the universal access section:

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Global Information Society Watch 2007

The Global Information Society Watch (GISW) 2007 report - the first in a series of annual reports- looks at state of the field of information and communication technology (ICT) policy at local and global levels and particularly how policy impacts on the lives of people living in developing countries.

Engendering Rural Information Systems in Indonesia

The study by the World Bank on Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for Rural Development in Indonesia, aims at identifying policies, technologies, institutions and investments needed to improve access to ICTs and promote rural development in Indonesia. A critical part of this study is a gender specific component, to ensure that the strategies developed and recommended are informed by a comprehensive gender analysis, and further integrate gender considerations into national ICT policy, planning and implementation.

Gender Issues in ICT Policy in Developing Countries: An Overview

Paper published by the United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW) and prepared by Nancy Hafkin 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” which took place in Seoul, Republic of Korea, in November of 2002.

ICTs and Gender - Working Party on the Information Economy

This document 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 how different ICT employment patterns are. The document then focuses on participation in ICT-related education and training, and differences in ICT access and use by gender.

Visit the collection of a wide variety of other resources concerning issue of universal access in the resources archive:

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Net Neutrality

The principle of Net Neutrality, sometimes referred as “network neutrality” or “internet neutrality” is about equal access to the internet. It is concerned with the fact that everybody's content should receive equal treatments in terms of speed and reliability , and be transmitted on a first-in-first-out basis. It also refers to an internet network that is free of restrictions on the kinds of equipment attached and the modes of communication allowed.

To understand unfamiliar ICT or gender terms visit the Jargon section:

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International Telecommunications Union

ITU is the leading United Nations agency for information and communication technologies. The overall objectives of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) are to promote the development of telecommunication networks and access to telecommunication services by fostering cooperation among governments and a range of non-governmental actors that includes network operators, service providers, equipment manufacturers, scientific and technical organisations, financial organisations and development organisations.

To find out more about key stakeholders in the field of ICTs, visit the Who's Who in Policy section:

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that you can receive regular information from directly to your mailbox

From June 2007 readers can sign up online to receive regular information from directly to their mailbox. We invite you to join two types of update alerts via e-mail:

1]Gender Centred thematic e-bulletin focuses on topical gender and information and communication policy themes targeted at women's rights advocates, policy makers and other concerned about gender-inclusive ICT policies.There are in average four issues per year. The bulletin is available in English and Spanish versions.

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CopyLeft. 2007 APC Women's Networking Support Programme (APC WNSP)

Permission is granted to use this document for personal use, for

training and educational publications, and activities by peace,

environmental, human rights or development organisations. Please provide an acknowledgement to APC WNSP.

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