Academic journal article International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology

Analysis of the Uses of Information and Communication Technology for Gender Empowerment and Sustainable Poverty Alleviation in Nigeria

Academic journal article International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology

Analysis of the Uses of Information and Communication Technology for Gender Empowerment and Sustainable Poverty Alleviation in Nigeria

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

This study presents information and communication technology (ICT) as a phenomenon that fits into the globalization project of empowering gender and sustainable poverty alleviation in Nigeria. Poverty amid plenty is the greatest challenge facing Nigeria. Men and women in poverty use diverse coping mechanisms conditioned by their access to various support systems. While women traditionally have access to the family network, the men utilize public and community systems, from which women are excluded. Hence the social dimension of poverty is largely a gender issue and gender is a key issue in the ICT profession with the greatest weight of poverty been borne by women household heads and children from poor homes.

This article is a descriptive analysis of the use of ICT for gender empowerment and sustainable poverty alleviation in Nigeria. It describes the roles that ICTs have played in the lives of the poor and the ones yet untapped in Nigeria, and how ICTs can assist women in addressing the chronic issues of widespread poverty. The result of the study using Likert rank order scale shows unemployment, income inequality, polygamy, business failure, sickness and environmental degradation as the main causes of poverty in Nigeria and sustainable poverty alleviation is unlikely to be achieved without the proper use of ICT. Using ICTs to support poverty reduction is found to be possible, practical and affordable if Nigerian government acknowledges its role as a major employer and user of ICT beginning with a development commitment that targets poverty alleviation. In addition, the development and access to social networks through low-cost ICTs, telecentres will enhance timely access to accurate and reliable information by the poor. ICTs will not only empower the gender but sustain poverty alleviation programmes which in time past have failed in Nigeria through provision of new and enhanced opportunities for participation in the process of self-determination, economic, social, educational and cultural advancement and employment beyond the scope of traditional institutions and any forms of governance.

Key words: Information Communication Technology (ICT), Gender, poverty, sustainability, usability and Nigeria

INTRODUCTION

Poverty means different things to different people1. It is a hydra-headed concept, hence conceptualized in different ways in the literature. On a wide dimension, there is poverty when a household or an individual is unable to meet what is considered as a minimum requirement to sustain livelihood in a given society (Ogwumike 2001). Poverty is painful. The Poor suffer physical, emotional and moral pains (Deepa et al, 2000), live without fundamental freedoms of action and choice that the better off take for granted (Sen., 1999). They often lack adequate food and shelter, education and health deprivations that keep then from leading the kind of life that every one values. They also face extreme vulnerability to ill health, economic dislocation, and natural disasters. And they are often exposed to ill treatment by institutions of the state and society and are powerless to influence key decisions affecting their lives. These are all dimensions of poverty (World Bank, 2001). A hungry man that is fed at a particular time has not been delivered out of poverty. A person that is alleviated from poverty must be empowered/helped to permanently overcome poverty rather than just for sometime. This could be done by helping him or her to: secure a sustainable job2, acquire skills that would be enough to provide regular source of earning and actively contribute towards the national productivity level

The Nigerian paradox has continued to baffle the world because the poverty level in the country contradicts the country's immense wealth as over 70 percent of the people wallow in absolute poverty with no food, clothing or shelter (Oshinonebo, 2002). Academic studies on ICTs3 and society show that there is a range of issues, which make it clear that the Information Society like any society will have winners and losers, beneficial consequences of ICT and harmful applications. …

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