Theme 17: The Role of ICT in Women's Participation in Development
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  (Last updated: October 10th, 2005)
 
 
 
 
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  Gender and Education: From Oral Traditions, Culture to ICTs-A UNESCO-Datamation Foundation Case Study  
  Chetan Sharma, Founder  
  Datamation Foundation Trust, Delhi, India  
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  Lifelong education for women is very critical given their increasing involvement in the economic activities. “Voices of the Poor” by Deepa Narayan concludes based on over 5000 participatory interviews with some of the poorest and marginalized communities world wide; 65 per cent women contributing to the household kitty directly. However poor women from the developing and poorer countries are most vulnerable to poverty and exploitation given lack of marketable skills apart from large number of marginalized women’s inability to even complete their upper primary and secondary education. Engagement with the families apart from constant struggle in eking out a living by doing all kinds of menial tasks; further diminishes the prospects of women getting educated/ Consequently lack of education and skills upgradation, further results in their exploitation and impoverishment. In this context, e-Learning can play a very crucial role in the life long education and skills upgradation process for the women.  
     
  In this backdrop, UNESCO has been supporting for last three years Datamation Foundation’s ICT enabled e-Learning Project in Seelampur-Zaffrabad, one of the most impoverished, predominantly Muslim area located in the North-East fringes of India’s National Capital Region.  
     
  A community ICT Centre has been set up within the Babool-ulm-Madarsa (Islamic learning Institution targeted towards men). The Centre has been reaching out to the Muslim women with localized skills enhancement, health and basic literacy e-Learning modules. These modules developed in Hindi by the Datamation Foundation have been reviewed by UNESCO for integration of ICT and basic pedagogical skills. Till date over 2000 women have been trained in the use of internet and computers; however most significantly have tried to leverage on the Open Distance Learning (ODL) Seelampur ICT Centre has deployed. The women have been engaged in the teaching-learning process with the help of multi-media modules on basic literacy (functional literacy imparted to the women within 90 hours of instruction) apart from 50 different types of vocational and micro-enterprise development skills. Health Education is an important component of the learning process, and the women are educated in the pre-natal and post-natal care, nutrition, well-being and epidemics. ICT enabled education modules are supplemented with practical instructions delivered by some of the best trainers from the area’s vocational and technical institutes.  
     
  The Project has focused extensively on group interactions, experience sharing and dovetailing of women’s experiences from their day-to-day lives into the learning process. The Ethnographic action research process has also enabled the women to share their daily experiences; their oral, written traditions and facilitate them their integration into the localized content delivered from the ICT Centre. Practical usage of content and knowledge has been immediately evident by commercializing their learning byd delivering better products and services to the customers. Therefore ICT enabled education has resulted in the utilization of the skills acquired through ICT enabled education.  
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  New Dynamics of Networking among Women's Organizations in Asia  
  Yukie Hori, Doctoral Student  
  Department of Media and Communications, London School of Economics and Political Science  
  London, England, United Kingdom  
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  A visible expansion of electronic networking among women’s organizations has been occurring for the last decade. Although many researchers point to the potential danger of exclusion for those with limited ICT access and knowledge, there seems less controversy in saying that the electronic networking of women’s groups per se is an opportunity for their empowerment. While empowerment is an essential concept for women’s full participation in the globalizing society, the idea that electronic networks entail empowerment may provide a fixed framework that the electronic networks are simply affirmative to women’s networks.  
     
  Accordingly, this research paper proposes to deconstruct the notion of empowerment in association with the electronic network of women’s organizations and reconstruct it with the term ‘transformation’. Employing the notion of transformation allows the research to investigate the relationship between women’s organizations and their electronic networking from broader perspectives, which could include possible negative consequences of the electronic network. The central research question is whether, how and to what extent the use of CMC has transformed the goals, activities and members of the electronic network of women’s organizations. The research question is pursued by examining a case study of an electronic network of women’s organizations called the Asian Women’s Resource Exchange. The major argument proposed is that the transformation of women’s electronic networks is not a straightforward process, but it may be attained in the complex interactions between technology and the social context.  
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The Emergence of Women in Indian Newsrooms

 
  David W. Bulla, Assistant Professor; and Pori Borah  
  Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication, Iowa State University of Science and Technology  
  Ames, Iowa, USA  
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The number of women working in Indian newsrooms has increased from 12 percent in 1990 to nearly 50 percent today, and the editor of the country’s largest Gujarti-language paper says that number will increase to 70 percent within a decade. The increased presence of women in Indian newsrooms must be seen in terms of development as India attempts to develop fully its human capital. Indian women were once not accepted in traditionally male industries like the media, but now they are accepted. In part, this has occurred because of economic liberalization and cultural liberalization. The influx of foreign-owned business and the bombardment of Western media messages have opened media to female workers. Media are seen as part of the glamour industry, and many women see journalism as a door to jobs with higher societal status – such as public relations and the law. That is, for potentially higher paying and more glamorous jobs. Thus, a major issue today is retention. At the same time, women in India media say they face a glass ceiling that blocks their avenue for advancement into upper management. This study examines the understandings and attitudes that women journalists have toward their increasingly feminine work environment and toward their increasingly feminized profession.

 
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Saudi Women and the Internet: Gender and Culture Issues

 
  Maryam Oshan, PhD Candidate, Department of Information Science  
  Research School of Informatics, Loughborough University, United Kingdom  
     
  Ann O'Brien, Lecturer, Department of Information Science  
  Research School of Informatics, Loughborough University, United Kingdom  
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The development of information and communication technology (ICT), particularly the Internet, has had a dramatic impact on every aspect of peopleís lives. In the case of Saudi women and the Internet there has so far been very little research. This study set out to gain a picture of factors associated with, and influencing, Saudi womenís use of the Internet with a particular focus on gender and culture issues. Seven hundred ninety three (793) university students (532 female and 261 male) were surveyed, and findings show that there are significant gender differences with respect to Internet use and attitudes.

 
     
  Contrary to what might have been predicted, Saudi women made just as much use of the Internet for their academic purposes as males. Unlike women in Western countries, however, they use email less frequently. Saudi women show positive attitudes and have lower anxiety toward using the Internet, but they are less confident about their ability to control their Internet usage. They ëchatí less than males but when they do they tend to spent longer hours online.  
     
  A series of socio-cultural and technological barriers, including access difficulties, slow connectivity, language, censorship, lack of time, cost, family restrictions, poor computer skills as well as social and cultural norm constrain womenís use of the Internet.  
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Gender and the Digital Divide in Greece: Issues of Women's Access to ICTs

 
  Eleni Vonda, PhD Candidate, Department of Sociology  
  University of the Aegean, Athens, Greece  
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  In contemporary societies, Information Technology (IT) is not an isolated phenomenon but a centerpiece of science, the arts, media, industry, commerce, government etc.  
     
  New Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are not accessible to all citizens: those who fail to adapt are excluded both from the labour market and the economic, political and social decision-making processes.  
     
  Although women have overtaken men in the past three years in their pace of Internet take-up and disparities are gradually diminishing, the digital divide is still evident across gender, education and occupation. Women are seriously under-represented as developers of ICTs and are often not well served or informed as ICTs users.  
     
  The paper aims at investigating the gender digital divide situation in Greece, compared to other European countries. Using representative national and European surveys and findings from various research programmes conducted by the Research Centre for Gender Equality (KETHI), this paper tracks education, employment and access to ICTs between Greek women and men.  
     
  Furthermore, it examines EU and national policies and current gender e-inclusion initiatives in the country.  
     
  The paper concludes that both public and private sectors are challenged to bridge the gender digital divide. By promoting women’s access to and training in new technologies it is possible to achieve a more flexible labour market, combat unemployment and socio-economic inequalities, fight against gender discrimination, develop new types of corporate and public governance, and ensure a wider and more effective political participation and advocacy.  
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Promoting Women's Rights and Children through Access to Information

 
  Najat Rochdi, Regional Director  
  ICT 4 Development in Arab Region - ICTDAR, UN Development Programme, UNDP  
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The Arab Human Development Report showed that disempowerment of women is the main cause for human poverty and underdevelopment within the Arab region. Disempowerment is due to the ignorance of women of their legal rights and entitlements. The Gender Equality Task Force Plan, as part of the UN Millennium Project, which was set to help developing countries meet their developing goals, states that improving the rights of women would help reduce poverty and empower women in developing societies. The Task Force Plan includes creating education and employment opportunities for women and promoting their legal literacy. These goals would be achieved through UNDP’s Regional Program ICTDAR (Information and Communication Technologies for development in the Arab Region).

 
     
 

ICTDAR was established in Cairo in October 2003. The objective of ICTDAR was to assist Arab States in harnessing ICT to reduce poverty and improve both public administration performance and private sector hold and expansion. Covering all Arab countries, ICTDAR’s key areas of intervention are the result of an extensive dialogue with a large cross-section of stakeholder engaged in the region. ICTDAR main priorities and pillars for progress include: raising awareness, campaigns development and participation, capacity development & strategy implementation, pro-poor growth and employment generation. ICTDAR is “human development” driven through the active use of ICT to build, develop and sustain knowledge acquisition and utilization.

 
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