Public Demand Aggregation as a Means of Bridging the ICT Gender Divide

Public Demand Aggregation as a Means of Bridging the ICT Gender Divide

Idongesit Williams, Benjamin Kwofie, Fauziatu Salifu Sidii
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1933-1.ch034
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More men use ICTs than women globally. This is not because there are more men than women globally. Rather, it is because of social, economic and cultural challenges that work against the adoption of ICTs by women. In this chapter, public demand aggregation of ICT content is promoted as a means of bridging the ICT gender gap. The argument presented here is; the promotion of useful e-government service(s) in a country will enable equal adoption of ICTs by both men and Women. The argument for content is inspired by the examples proposed in this chapter as well as a synthesis of results from the Ghana Wireless Project and a research visit to Jaribu and Kerege in Tanzania. This chapter concludes, that the adoption of mandatory national e-government initiatives will result in more women identifying other uses of ICTs in other areas of their lives, spurring sustainable adoption of ICTs.
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An Overview On The Argument

The empirical findings were chosen because they pointed to the fact that users - in general - adopted ICT services based on how the service fits into their daily routine. This insight aligns with the use and gratification theory. This is a media theory that explains that media adoption is dependent on how the media meets the desires of the user as well as the potential for gratification presented by the media to the user (Katz, Elihu, Blumler, & Gurevitch, 1974). Though the studies in Ghana and Tanzania were aimed at finding solutions aimed at bridging the digital divide in general, there was an opportunity to find out why ICT adoption in the cases studied became a possibility. Here there were few female citizens identified in the cases studied, who did not adopt ICTs. Their response was that they found no usefulness for the ICTs in their daily lives. In contrast, female citizens who adopted the ICTs were those who found the ICTs to be useful to them.

It is believed that certain factors such as the social status of women, the level employment status of women, the cost of affording the Customer Premise Equipments (CPE), knowledge on how to use ICTs, the availability of Customer Premise Equipments and formal education are often attributed as reasons for the ICT gender digital divide (see (Hafkin & Huyer, 2008) (Primo, 2003) (Gillwald, Milek, & Stork, 2010). Though, the influence of these factors is not in doubt, in cases studied, these factors did not play a role, as there were uneducated females using ICTs. It was evident that local shops in rural areas were selling ICT equipments which were mostly mobile telephone and their accessories. However, few desktop local computers were sighted. In areas where there were no electricity, local shops provided generators and solar panels to charge the mobile phone at a fee. Hence the CPEs were provided by local entrepreneurs, once there was demand for it. However, the uneducated females, who adopted ICTs did so because they could interact with social radio programs. Here they could vote for their favorite musician on Facebook as well as download ringtones. In the process, some of them got to know about YouTube and its value to them. Hence, they learned by doing. In such cases, the female users’ cognitive learning process is deployed. The cognitive learning is enhanced by the fascination and interest of the female user as well as the perceived satisfaction, the female user expects from adopting the ICT. In this process, the female users could identify a need for the service and find gratification for the ICT services provided.

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