African Women and ICTs: Investigating Technology, Gender and Empowerment

African Women and ICTs: Investigating Technology, Gender and Empowerment

African Women and ICTs: Investigating Technology, Gender and Empowerment

African Women and ICTs: Investigating Technology, Gender and Empowerment

Synopsis

This book explores the ways in which women in Africa utilize Information and Communication Technologies to facilitate their empowerment; whether through the mobile village phone business, through internet use, or through new career and ICT employment opportunities. Based on the outcome of an extensive research project, this timely books features chapters based on original primary field research undertaken by academics and activists who have investigated situations within their own communities and countries. The discussion includes such issues as the notion of ICTs for empowerment and as agents of change, ICTs in the fight against gender-based violence, and how ICTs could be used to re-conceptualize public and private spaces.

Excerpt

Women in Africa are undeniably participating in the information and communication technology (ICT) revolution and they are doing so in many and varied ways; the changes that the use of these tools have brought about are visible everywhere. Furthermore, the prospects of ICTs for development and women's empowerment seem promising. Yet women's stories about their experiences and use of these tools are not heard: are their lives changing for the better because of these new technologies? If so, in what ways are they changing? Are there areas in which women could and should participate in this ict revolution but are not, because they are women? How can women's perspectives, insights and realities in relation to the use and potentials of ICTs be integrated into ict policies that are currently being developed and implemented across the continent?

These were the questions that led the Acacia Programme of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), which supports research in Africa on information and communication technologies for development (ICT4D), and the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) to call together in 2004 in Johannesburg, South Africa, a collective of African academics and activists known for their passionate involvement with women's empowerment and ICTs. the perspectives of the women of Africa needed to be narrated and this knowledge needed to be brought to the world by African researchers. It was envisioned that a research network would emerge from this group of individuals that would operate as a virtual research team. the idea was accepted and grace (Gender Research in Africa into ICTs for Empowerment) was born. While the research teams were all encouraged to follow their individual research passions, design their own methodology and formulate their own research questions, there was a common ground and an alignment to a shared purpose.

The thinking in development studies has evolved: the idea that providing interventions in the form of infrastructure suffices in attracting the intended benefciaries and brings about change is outdated. the trickle-down approach – which counts on the developed aspects of the economy uplifting the more disadvantaged . . .

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