Gender Digital Divide and National ICT Policies in Africa

Gender Digital Divide and National ICT Policies in Africa

Violet E. Ikolo (Delta State University, Nigeria)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1852-7.ch042


The chapter provides an examination of the concept of the digital divide in Africa and its effect on the women in Africa, how ICTs can be used as tools for gender equality and empowerment and the barriers women face in regards to access to ICT infrastructure. These barriers includes: lack of access to physical infrastructure, illiteracy, social and cultural limitations, lack of finance, decision making ability, segregation in employment issues, etc. Also examined is the historical development of ICT policies in Africa, alongside a gender analysis of African ICT policies and policy oriented strategies for making ICT beneficial to women in Africa.
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Information and communication technologies consist of technologies and tools that people use to share, distribute, gather information and communicate with one another using computers and interconnected computer networks (Wood, 2005). The term ICTs also refers to technological innovations and convergence in information and communication, which has turned our world into information and knowledge societies (Wikipedia, 2006).

“Gender refers to the social difference and relationship between men and women which are learned. These vary widely among societies and cultures and usually changes over time. However, it should be noted that the term “gender” does not replace the term “sex”. Sex according to the International Labour Office (ILO, 2000), refers exclusively to biological differences between men and women, while gender is used to analyze the roles, responsibilities, opportunities, constrains, and needs of women and men in all areas and in any given social context. Sex is also seen as a biological characteristic determined at conception. It is fixed for a person’s life and the same biological differences between men and women exist in all countries around the world. It does not change over time, while gender refers to differences between men and women that are not fixed but determined by social and cultural values (Anker, 1998). This means that gender differences between men and women vary across countries, regions, societies and communities. Unlike sex, gender roles are manmade and can be changed by education, government policy, media images and opinion leaders. Also, gender roles could change in response to economic conditions, natural or political circumstances, national or international based forces (ILO, 2000).

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