Gender, information technology
and rural development:
an overview
Nancy J. Hafkin
Presentation to World Bank
GENRD Brown Bag
12 November 2003
Starting assumption
 ICTs
can and do make an important
contribution to agricultural and rural
development
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The challenge . . .
 To
make it possible for poor rural
women to use ICTs in ways that
improve food security, provide
sustainable livelihoods and improve the
quality of life in rural areas.
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Information and rural women
 Information
can empower rural women
to participate in decision making,
exchange ideas with others in
developed and developing countries
and improve the quality of life of the
people of Africa
 Hilda Munyua
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Why consider gender?

The “greatest good”
 Women
are the majority of the population
in rural areas of most developing countries
 They are highly significant in food
production- “without women we all go
hungry-” Kenya proverb.
 Consideration of their involvement is a
quantitative imperative
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The business case
 Development
projects that take gender
into account are more likely to achieve
their objectives than those that do not
(World Bank)
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Elimination of poverty
Women’s empowerment is a central
precondition for the elimination of poverty
 Addressing gender issues addresses poverty
 ICTs address the concomitants of poverty:




lack of access to education and health services
Lack of productive opportunities
Lack of information and isolation
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The equity argument
 Gender
equality is integral to a humanrights based approach to development
 Third Goal of United Nations Millennium
Development: promotion of gender
equality and empowerment of women
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ICTs are not gender neutral
 Substantial
gender differences in
access to, impact of ICTs
 Few women users in developing
countries
 Most women users in developing
countries part of small, educated urban
elite
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Gender issues in ICT and rural
development
 Lack
of infrastructure is a gender issue
 Poorer
infrastructure in rural and outlying
areas
 More women live in rural areas than men
 Urban bias in connectivity deprives more
women than men of the universal right to
communicate
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Social and cultural issues
 Women
have lesser access than men to
those facilities that do exist
 Women have less time to visit public
access facilities
 Facilities may not be located where
women are comfortable frequenting
 Hours may not be conducive to
women’s use
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Gender bias towards women
and ICTs
 Fewer
women in science and
technology
 Attitudes that information technology is
not for women
 Other cultural aspects limit women’s
access
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Education and skills
 Women
less likely than men to have the
requisite education and knowledge
 Literacy
 Language
 Computer
skills
 Information literacy
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Other gender issues
 Financial
resources
 Content
 Statistics
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and indicators
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Some possible applications
 Improved
communications
 Improved access to information
 Economic, social and political
applications
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ICTs might fill agricultural
extension gender gap
 Most
agricultural technology transfer
agents male
 Only 5% of extension services go to
women
 Only 15% of extension agents are
women
 ICTs can focus on content related to
subsistence crops, food security
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Some Gender, ICT initiatives
 Benin
Microfinance
 Bankilare Niger
 DTR-Federation African Media WomenRadio Listening Clubs Nakaseke Telecentre CD-ROM-Rural
Women in Africa Ideas for Earning
Money
 Dimitra-www.fao.org/sd/dimitra
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More initiatives . . .
 Honeybee
Network-India
 Self-Employed Women’s AssociationIndia
 Gyandoot/Daar-India
 Fantsuam-northern Nigeria
 Moutse Community Radio Station-South
Africa
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Gender lessons from ICT projects

Technology empowers, but also affects and
alters gender relations
 Gender is everywhere: no project without
gender issues
 Women emerge from project participation
with greater knowledge, self esteem
 If you don’t ask for gender, you don’t get
gender
 Need for pro-activity to ensure participation of
both men and women
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How to get women into
projects:

There have to be guidelines and procedures
 Gender-goals have to appear in objectives
 Competent gender analysis needs to enter
from beginning of project design
 Monitoring and evaluation statistics must be
disaggregated by sex
 All projects need to be reviewed for gender
issues
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Engendering policy

Insufficient to stop at engendering projects
 Neither gender, nor ICT are in rural
development plans and strategies!
 Must be done at policy level to ensure women
included
 Needs to be considered in ICT policy,
agricultural development policy, technology
policy and gender policy
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Ensuring women’s inclusionhow to do it?

Work in the policy arena
 Technology will take care of some access
problems (wireless access)
 Inclusion of ICT training in training and
education projects for girls and women
 Train young women from communities at
community centers
 Develop role models
 Improve girl’s and women’s education in
Africa
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Gender, RD, ICT resources
 ICT
for Rural Women:
 information list of resources, events and
organizations on how women can use
ICTs to support grassroots productive
enterprises.
 information on productive technologies,
prices, markets and small enterprise
support.
 appropriate
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technologies;
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ICT for Rural Women (cont’d)
 appropriate
software packages and
training women how to use them.
 extension services;
 linking new ICTs with other
communications media;
 strategies for scaling up and replicating
pilot projects;
 documenting best practices Subscribe:
www.wigsat.org
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More resources . . .
 ISNAR
Briefing Paper 55, Gender and
agriculture in the information society
 www.isnar.cgiar.org/publications/briefing
/bp55.htm
 2002
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CTA Observatory on gender
and ICTs for agricultural and
rural development

Impact of ICTs from a gender perspective
 Tried to identify ways in which ICTs can help
to empower rural women in ACP countries.
 http://www.cta.int/observatory2002/
 Wageningen, The Netherlands 11 - 13
September 2002
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Priority areas for gender, ICTs
and agriculture (CTA)
 Mainstreaming
gender. Ensuring
participation of poor rural women.
 Policy. Gender equity in national policy
on rural issues and ICTs.
 Access for rural areas.
 Content.
 Capacity building.
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Issues in gender, information technology and development: