ICTs and Mainstreaming Gender
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CTA. 2002. ICTs and Mainstreaming Gender. ICT Update Issue 8. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57497
by Nancy Hafkin & Helen Hambly Is it realistic to expect ICTs to be relevant to the world´s 876 million illiterate people, two-thirds of whom are women living in rural areas of developing countries? Women make up the largest propo
This dilemma was the theme of CTA´s Observatory on ICTs, on Gender and Agriculture in the Information Society, in Wageningen, the Netherlands on 11-13 September 2002. The meeting called on CTA and other agencies to include a gender perspective and mainstream gender in all their programmes to promote ICTs for agricultural innovation and rural development in ACP countries. Work on gender and development policies and programmes has shown that adopting a gender perspective improves the efficient use of resources and empowers resource-poor rural women. ICTs have created many opportunities for women through awareness raising, education and skills training, and income generation. Some examples of gender-friendly initiatives to promote ICTs in agriculture and rural development are listed in the section Projects of this web magazine. The adoption of a gender focus implies changes in development institutions and social structures that will not occur quickly or easily by themselves. The aim is to ensure positive outcomes that will benefit not only resource-poor rural women, but the whole of society. Gender mainstreaming helps to ensure that both men and women have equal opportunities to participate in and to benefit from development activities. In addressing the constraints and obstacles to gender equity, solutions may include providing single-sex training and access for women who are uncomfortable using technology in settings with men, or remedying the lack of education and skills of many rural women to enable them to use ICTs. Gender mainstreaming means applying gender analysis to programmes, projects and activities from their inception, and not as add-ons. Most programmes and projects do not consider gender as an important design component and, consequently, fail to include both men and women equitably. In the area of ICTs for agriculture and rural development it is almost impossible to find a gender-neutral project, i.e. one that affects and benefits both men and women in the same way. As with nearly all technologies employed in development processes, ICTs impact men and women differently. Yet men and women have different needs. As noted by the OECD, in the agricultural sector, strategies that assume gender neutrality ("for the benefit of the community as a whole") do not necessarily lead to gender-neutral outcomes. As the specialists from ACP and other countries observed, "gender is everywhere; it is a matter of recognizing it and acting appropriately". About the authors Nancy Hafkin (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a consultant on gender, IT and development, and former coordinator of the African Information Society Initiative at the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). Helen Hambly Odame (email@example.com) is a research officer at ISNAR, specializing in gender and institutions in agriculture and natural resource management.