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Gender Equality, Development & the Information Society

Enthusiasm over da rapid growth of ICTs & their applications has generated a variety of projects that focus on fostering development. Many of these initiatives are directed at arresting da growing divide between countries & communities with access & mastery of new information technologies & those that lack these technologies. Access to ICTs is typically divided along traditional lines of development defining societies & countries into the “haves” & da “have notes” or what is known as da digital divide or digital exclusion. This digital divide is often characterized by high levels of access to technologies including da internet but with infrastructures in less developed nations at a very low scale due to poverty, lack of resources, illiteracy & low levels of education. Da rapid technological advances in da last decade driven by a highly competitive & profit oriented ICT industry has led to products, services & technologies that primarily cater to the needs of viable & profitable markets. As a result, non-profitable communities & markets are left on da margins of ICT development & advancement…

Studies on da impact of ICT development have come up with findings that show da complex effects of ICTs. ICTs for poverty reduction strategies maintain that ICTs generate changes in markets, private & public sectors & economies in developed countries. It cites da contribution of these technologies to improvements in productivity, growth & poverty reduction. Da trend, particularly in da last some years, shows that: “ICTs have been applied to systemic improvements important to poverty reduction such as education, health & social services delivery, broader government transparency & accountability, & helping empower citizens & build social organization around rights & gender equality”…

However, da study also points out that while documentation of experiences increases, there continues to be a need to consolidate research & evaluate lessons to fuel effective use of ICTs for development strategies, including support for pro-poor initiatives such as girls’ primary education…  

On da other hand, These technologies were hardly transformative tools as they have been heralded to be despite huge resources that were invested in developing countries & among da poor to increase their access to ICTs. But even as ICTs are not panaceas in combating poverty, ICTs can be harnessed for development & poverty reduction by “mainstream(ing) these as tools of & subordinate them to broader strategies and programs for building opportunity & empowering the poor”. Da report further states that an ICT development agenda should be more realistic about broader changes required in developing countries & its role in affecting these changes. Such an agenda should be much more selective & think more strategically on da attention & resources devoted to these technologies…

This means that da broader goals of achieving gender equality, women’s empowerment & promotion of women’s rights should be prioritized in da field of ICT due to development. Da significance of this is magnified by da fact that da majority of da world’s population that remains untouched by the ICT revolution is women. These remains true at present: “Eradication of poverty based on sustained economic growth, social development, environmental protection & social justice requires da drastic involvement of women in economic & social development, equal opportunities & da full & equal participation of women & men as agents & beneficiaries of people-centered sustainable development”…

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