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The Need to Integrate Gender in ICT Policy Processes

Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) is a broad concept that encompasses a wide range of ICTs such as computers, mobile phones, radios, CD Roms etc. Uganda’s ICT Policy defines ICTs as technologies that provide an enabling environment for physical infrastructural and services development for generation, transmission, processing, storing and disseminating information in all forms including voice, text, data, graphics and video. The policy has three areas of focus, namely, information as a resource for development, mechanisms for accessing information, and ICT as an industry, including e-business, software development and manufacturing.

In essence, the ICT policy framework defines the operations of ICT related activities and provides broad guidelines for operation in mainly three areas; telecommunication, broadcasting and Internet.  Indeed, a well developed ICT policy would provide significant opportunities for all citizens including poor men and women to access information that is relevant to enhancement of their socioeconomic and political lives.

 

ICTs are widely recognised as key tools that can enable the participation of poor women and men in economic and civic life and help them to move out of poverty. Eighty-seven percent of Uganda’s population lives in rural areas and ICTs have a great role to play in providing rural populations with education and training, job opportunities, access to markets, social services and other information relevant to their economic enhancement and effective participation in political processes.

 Why Engender ICTs?

Gender is a social construct specifying the socially and culturally prescribed roles that men and women are to follow in a given society. Therefore gender determines the social roles, responsibilities and relationships and privileges between men and women in a given society. In this case, gender determines access, utilization and application of ICT among men and women. Much of the benefits and potential of ICTs remains untapped especially for groups experiencing time constraints, social isolation, lack of access to knowledge and productive resources and women in developing countries have been identified among the most affected groups. 

In Uganda, women’s awareness and usage of ICTs is nearly three times less than that of men and their access to ICTs is constrained by;

  • Inadequate technological infrastructure in rural areas
  • Social and cultural bias
  • Low levels of education and skills
  • Lack of disposable income to purchase technology services
  • Limitation of the media.
  • Lack of Gender Disaggregated Data (GDD)

Available evidence indicates that without explicit articulation of gender in policies, gender issues and concerns are not likely to be considered during implementation.  Moreover, policy making in technological fields had been noted to ignore the needs, requirements and aspirations of women unless gender analysis is included. As such, without specific attention and action, there would be no equitable distribution of benefits for men and women, with women often disadvantaged.

Whereas the draft national ICT policy framework recognizes gender mainstreaming as one of its objectives, it is important to understand that gender is a cross cutting issue that should not be addressed in isolation. As such, deliberate efforts should be undertaken to mainstream gender in all the strategies.  It is also important to note that to achieve the desired results, gender concerns should be explicitly addressed in all policy processes including policy elaboration, implementation and evaluation. This calls for the development of gender-monitoring indicators to measure impact from the gender perspective. Gender and development policy makers also need to develop a dialogue with IT policy makers to ensure that the proposed strategies are implemented.

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About The Story Teller

Passionate about Gender and ICT Issues, participates in awareness raising /capacity building activities on Gender & ICTs aimed at up lifting the status of women and girls in Uganda

3 responses »

  1. Pingback: ICT4D for Women: Opportunities and Risks :: Elites TV

  2. Pingback: Global Voices Online » ICT4D for Women: Opportunities and Risks

  3. Pingback: Full Circle Associates » Social Media in Intl. Dev: Sarah Blackmun

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