Information Communication Technology (ICT) has the potential to contribute to development, especially in rural areas of developing countries. But the mechanisms through which ICT can be combined with development agendas and an understanding of the actual development process and impacts of ICT are less well understood or properly defined in the academic literature. This research is an attempt to contribute to understanding this process by analysing the impact of two ICT initiatives in Bangladesh, aimed at improving the lives of rural women. An interpretive approach in the qualitative research tradition was adopted to identify emergent themes in this study. Our findings indicate that these ICT projects have significantly improved the socio-economic opportunities of many women. This paper will be useful for those academics, practitioners and policymakers who wish to enhance their understanding of ICT projects in rural areas of developing countries.
Noting that there had been insufficient attention to understanding the impacts of ICT on women and that few projects initiated by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) had taken into account the needs and perspectives of women, the 1998 World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC) resolved to establish a task force on gender issues (ITU, 1998). To emphasize the importance of gender issues, this task force was converted into a Standing Working Group on Gender Issues at the WTDC in 2002 (ITU, 2002). This brought renewed emphasis on training and education for women in ICT, a theme that recurred at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), which emphasized the importance of training and education of women to motivate and promote “participation and active involvement of girls and women in the decision-making process of building the Information Society” (WSIS, 2005).