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Peter Kuthan / AZFA
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« on: March 24 2009 »

ICT presents unique and timely opportunities for women and girls. It promises better economic prospects, fuller political participation, communication with the outside world, easy access to information, and an enhanced ability to acquire education and skills and to transcend social restrictions. ICT is especially important to poor women because it can provide increased access to resources, the absence of which defines poverty. Hence, ICTs are tools that facilitate access to a variety of development resources.

ICT presents unique and timely opportunities for women and girls. It promises better economic prospects, fuller political participation, communication with the outside world, easy access to information, and an enhanced ability to acquire education and skills and to transcend social restrictions. ICT is especially important to poor women because it can provide increased access to resources, the absence of which defines poverty. Hence, ICTs are tools that facilitate access to a variety of development resources.

However, uneven distribution of ICT within societies and across the globe is resulting in a “digital divide” between those who have access to information resources and those who do not. Women’s lower levels of literacy and education relative to men as well as negative attitudes towards girls’ achievement in science and mathematics, contribute to the gender dimension of the digital divide. In addition, women have lower degree of economic security than men and face gender-related constraints on their time and mobility. They are therefore less like to access, use and participate in shaping the course of ICTs compared to their male counterparts. 

In Uganda women’s awareness and usage of ICTs is nearly three times less than that of men (2006 ResearchICT Africa!). An assessment of the RCDF from a gender perspective undertaken by Women of Uganda Network in 2007 revealed that the fact that women are key customers in the privately owned computer training centres has nothing to do with gender targeting. Many of these females go for secretarial training or to learn elementary computer skills like Microsoft office applications to enhance their gender stereotyped roles of secretary.  Those women that are employed as trainers or lab attendants are the minority and as far as ownership, management and control of those private ICT business centres, women are generally lacking. The study also revealed that although RCDF support to various ICT projects has facilitated further spread of ICT facilities and services to less privileged areas and its communities, women have benefited less from the projects as compared to their male counterparts.

Without access to information technology, an understanding of its significance, and the ability to use it for social and economic gain, women are likely to be further marginalized from the mainstream of their communities, their countries, and the world ( Nancy Hafkin and Nancy Taggart 2003). There is therefore need for a deliberate effort to enable women and girls benefit from ICTs.   In an effort to raise awareness about the benefits and opportunities offered by ICTs  and to increase women /girls use of ICTs and to empower them to improve on their livelihoods and status in society, the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has partnered with Women of Uganda Network to organize regional ICT seminars/camps for girls in Eastern, Northern and Western Uganda This is also an effort to increase women’s use/benefit from the Rural Communications Development Fund (RCDF). The regional camps commence in April 2009 and will be held in the Mbale, Lira and Mbarara. 

Increased awareness of the opportunities offered by ICTs is likely to result in improved access by girls and women information on education, nutrition, health and other development opportunities. Increase awareness of ICT opportunities will also enable girls to able active participants in the "Information Age" and this will enable them to speak on their own ‘issues' hence empowerment.

source: http://www.wougnet.org/cms/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=358&Itemid=1
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