After the 2003 World Summit on Information Society in Geneva the world saw a need to make the tools for measuring and monitoring progress using ICT indicators. The UN sent out a questionnaire that explored the “official information society” statistics to 179 developing countries, of which 86 answered completely. The results are organized in a report in the following seven sections: ICT household indicators, ICT indicators in the business sector, status of ICT indicators in Africa, status of ICT indicators in Central Asia and Central and Eastern European countries, status of ICT indicators in Western Asia, status of ICT indicators in Asia-Pacific, status of ICT indicators in Latin America and the Caribbean. The ICT household indicators section has information on the sources of information, the survey vehicles, availability of the 20 indictors, as well as the differences in social classifications for the ICT statistics. The business sector uses different methods of surveying and other information techniques to see how ICT indicators are in the business sector. While all the other sections above did not get as much as a response and further research and information is needed before more analysis. The actual questionnaire was divided in four main parts and mainly focused on the “institutional and technical systems established” for monitoring ICT statistics, ignoring details on key metadata on the indicator level. After all the different reports were presented regionally in different formats they were standardized and made into a common framework. The report is trying to help understand the ICT situation for different regions depending on their income and GDP levels. One of the goals was to get a consensus for a universal set of core ICT indictors, make a better statistical capacity in developing nations, and make a global database for core ICT indictors. These reports help as they make it easier for one it see progress in ICT use and availability as well as make inferences on poverty. It also allows nations to see where they are lacking and how they compare to others. A universal set of core indicators would also make it easier in general to monitor and evaluate the information society (and other things) and ICT capability. For instance Africa had a low response rate with only 19 out of 52 nations answering, a total of 42% of the regional population. South Africa is shown to have a lower middle income and medium access, which is higher than many of the other African nations, but still failed to answer much of the questionnaire. This shows that South Africa and the African region need to improve on answering such questionnaires so that universal core indicators can be set and monitored. Although not fully successful the report was very factual and is a good base for future research.
Tag Archives: UN
The UN ICT Task Force was established by the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2001. It is a multi-stakeholder institution and includes participants from both the developed and developing world. In addition, the UN ICT Task force works closely with WSIS and the World Economic Forum. Many members of the ICT Task Force come from top computer development companies, including Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Nokia, Siemens, and Sun Micro Systems. These large companies also collaborate with a select groups of NGOs and a small UN secretariat, creating a fairly diverse membership.
This group is then divided into four working groups:
1.ICT Policy and Governance
2. Enabling Environment
3. Human Resource Development and Capacity Building
4. ICT Indicators and MDG Mapping
The main objective of the ICT Task Force is to provide policy advice to governments and international organizations, informing them on what ICTs realistically can and cannot do, in order to help combat the digital divide. On the ICT Task Force’s intro page, they summarize their mission as:
“One of the most pressing challenges in the new century is to harness this extraordinary force, spread it throughout the world, and make its benefits accessible and meaningful for all humanity, in particular the poor. The principal mission of this Task Force is to tell us how we might accomplish this ambitious goal.”
One interesting project of the UN ICT Task Force was the “Challenge to Silicon Valley,” issued by Kofi Annan in 2002. The challenge was for top companies in Silicon Valley to create ICT solutions that could be created at a price point low enough that they could be deployed anywhere in the world. The companies responded to the challenge, although by 2004, only a handful of UN programs were using ICTs.
The UN ICT TF also produces several publications on effective ICT policy and use and leads many workshops and the many dimensions of and possibilities for ICTs. Currently, the UN ICT TF is being replaced by a new group, called Global Alliance for ICT and Development (GAID), which has a direct focus on ICTs for International Development.
One certainty is that there will be no adequate measurement or tracking of the relative status of women without the application of ICT… Moreover, it is only by the application of ICT that there is any hope of adequately unravelling the complex casual patterns in gender discrimination and of planning effective public gender policies”.
As discussed previously in both class and on this blog, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set out to eradicate poverty by 2015. Goal 3 is to “Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women”, and more specifically to eliminate the gender disparity in primary and secondary education. This is important because gender equality is fundamental to international development and poverty eradication. However, in his article, ICTs and MDGs: On the Wrong Track, Richard Heeks points out some of the main issues with MDGs, most specifically that they don’t use or address ICTs.
Since the creation of the MDGs, there seems to be a consensus on the idea that ICTs can help women achieve equality (despite the current inequalities in ICT access). One report by the UNDP’s Central and Eastern Europe Office titled Bridging the Gender Digital Divide analyzes the relationship between gender and ICT and makes a series of recommendations for the UN. One of their main recommendations is to “Deepen knowledge on the link between ICTs and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals”, specifically relating to Goal 3. The report says that ICT “can serve as an invaluable tool for those striving to meet the target and to improve their performance for these indicators”. Moreover, they would like more attention to be given to integrating gender with Goal 8 (Develop a Global Partnership for Development), which would mean ICT benefits for everyone.
Other recommendations include a “gender-focused ICT assessment” to identify which technologies are most user-friendly, commonly used, and accessible for women. For example, older technologies are often cheaper and therefore more accessible for women. Both this report, along with another report by Nancy Hafkin and Sophia Huyer, discuss that the main problem is the lack of gender ICT statistics available. The UNDP article writes, “The lack of data is a fundamental constraint for evaluating the gender impact of ICTs and women’s position in the ICT sector”. Therefore, they recommend a more extensive assessment to discover which strategies can be used to eliminate gender inequality through the use of ICTs.
The UN’s Millennium Development Goals aim to end poverty and hunger, provide gender equality, environmental sustainability, universal education, and a global partnership, improve child and maternal health, and combat HIV/AIDS. These goals are ambitious and if achieved would radically change the world. Considering the prevalence of these issues in the world today, it seems that reaching these goals for every single country is a long way away. However, the target date for these goals is 2015, only two years from now.
Considering that even many of the most developed countries are far from reaching the MDGs, it is extremely unlikely that these goals will be universally met. So what next? The issues that the MDGs address will still be there in 2015 so what will the new plan be? Is there a new plan?
The organization, Beyond2015 seeks to answer these question. Beyond2015 is group of over 500 of over 500 organizations from a wide range of countries that campaigns for “a global development framework after the Millennium Goals.” Beyond2015 hopes to ensure that global civil society is included when forming the post-2015 agenda. The organization’s “must haves” for designing the new goals are leadership, legitimacy, substance, and accountability. The current MDGs find many of their flaws in their lack of ability to adapt to the needs of individual countries and in their lack of accountability. There wasn’t any real pressure on countries to push to meet these goals. The “must haves” of Beyond2015 exist to make the design and implementation of the post-2015 agenda more affective, attainable, and enforceable than the current MDGs.
Beyond2015 is also a great resource for reports and videos that have to do with the post-2015 agenda. This video discusses the UN view of how countries should move on from 2015. The video talks about designing a new social contract and finding a balance between human and environmental issues. It seems like the UN and Beyond2015 have the right ideas so hopefully this time around they will be able to create a more reasonable time line and make a plan that is more individualized to each country so that they have a higher probability if success.
While searching ICTs and Gender, I found an award site that recognizes innovative and effective projects by women to use ICTs to promote gender equality and/or women’s empowerment. Curiously, it seems as though the last awards were given out in 2005, however, the winner’s project in Bangladesh is very relevant to our discussion in class on Thursday. The Pallitathya Help-Line project uses female mobile phone operators to answer calls from rural populations that lack access to information about health, education, legal procedures or administrative hassles.
As outlined by the Help-Line’s website, the major components of the project include:
- Mobile Lady
- Help Desk with an expert panel
- Directory database
- External expert panel
- Community members
- Monitoring successes
- Modes of information delivery through Help Line
Similarly, ITU (International Telecommunication Union), which is the United Nations agency for ICTs, has created a campaign called “Tech needs Girls.” This campaign seeks to increase female participation in the technology sector via awareness events, training sessions, work opportunities, etc. in the developed and developing world.
Internet governance is a hot topic now, in this time before the International Telecommunication Union’s Dubai conference. At the conference, the principles governing the way international voice and data are trafficked will be discussed, in order to revise the 1988 global treaty.
The ITU (International Telecommunications Union) was founded in 1865 and is an arm of the UN today. As one of the oldest intergovernmental organizations, it wishes to remain relevant today and to develop technical standards to promote interconnectivity and improve telecommunication access for all. 193 ITU member states are invited to this conference, as well as some UN bodies and related IGOs.It should be noted that civil society, academics and technical representatives are absent.
As technology has created a sense of transparency and openness, ITU has remained closed.
Here are some of the changes the treaty might wish to bring about.
1. Hand over much more control to governments so they can more easily control internet use and legitimize more censorship.
2. ITU start regulating internet content anf have say on decisions regarding privacy.
3. Some countries wish to charge based on country borders.
4. The ITU might replace the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.
No government or IGO is able to make decisions fast enough to respond to the demands of the internet. How should it be regulated by organizations globally who relate it to the developments of their countries? The 1988 treaty is certainly out of date, but how should it be freshened?
This report by Professor Clement Dzidonu, commissioned by the Division for Public Administration and Development Management of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, explores how information and communication technology can be used to help reach the Millennium Development Goals, focusing specifically on Africa.
The first several pages are spent discussing the role of ICTs in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. As the report states, “There is now a consensus that in what is increasingly becoming a highly competitive information-driven world economy, development without ICTs is not possible.” The report graphically demonstrates the way that ICTs can impact development in eight major sectors: the public, agricultural, service, industrial, research & development, education, health, and private sectors.
Interestingly, the report mentions that ICTs can facilitate the development process not only in developing countries, but also in more developed countries, a point that is sometimes overlooked. It also states that technology is not a goal in and of itself; instead, it can be used as an “enabler of development goals.” The report then describes ten areas where the introduction of ICTs has had a major impact on development, ranging from good governance to more productive agriculture.
Finally, the report delves into the specific case of the African continent, examining country case studies and how ICTs might help to meet the MDGs in African nations. The report includes not only examples of programs and strategies, but also the very important “lessons learned” that will help future practitioners gain insight into the successes, failures, and potential replicability of these programs. These case studies and strategies are useful not only to African nations; they might also provide clues as to how ICTs can be implemented in other regions of the world where the MDGs have yet to be met.
Though several years old, the UN’s “Gender equality and empowerment of women through ICT” clearly explains the issues that women all over the world face today in regards to ICT. As the article very clearly states, “While there is recognition of the potential of ICT as a tool for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women, a “gender divide” has also been identified, reflected in the lower numbers of women accessing and using ICT compared with men. Unless this gender divide is specifically addressed, there is a risk that ICT may exacerbate existing inequalities between women and men and create new forms of inequality,” (3). Nevertheless, what I prefer to share in this post is an example of how ICT has been used to benefit the position of women in a LDC.
As a preface, this article highlights real examples from Brazil, Senegal, India, Malaysia, Korea, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Ghana, Fiji, Slovakia, Malawi, etc., which I urge you to look at for ideas. The case that I will highlight is this one: In Costa Rica, there is a feminist program called FIRE, which is transmitted both through the radio and the Internet. Through FIRE, women can access vital support regarding “…sensitive issues, such as violence against women, women in conflict areas and child abuse,” (11). Additionally, “…the website contains written information and a photo gallery of events where women are key actors,” (11). I’ve also hyper-linked FIRE’s website, so check it out; there are some articles available in English for those of you que no hablan español. =]
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), thought to be conquered by 2015, are geared towards ending poverty, hunger, and HIV/AIDS, in addition to furthering universal education, gender equality, child health, maternal health, environmental sustainability, and global partnerships. One of the many ways that could potentially assist in allowing for MDGs to succeed is to use ICT4D initiatives to better the flow of communication and information from individuals in developed nations to those in underdeveloped nations. If communication and information were better delivered, then development would be achieved much faster and we would be largely closer to accomplishing our MDGs by year 2015. Nevertheless, without understanding what the needs of the people are, no matter if they are aimed towards economic, social, political, or ideological/cultural frameworks, then we as a developed nation will not be able to help in furthering underdeveloped nations.
In November of 2011, the United Nations held a conference, aimed at young people, in order to communicate with society and relay information about the AIDs epidemic in underdeveloped countries. They had called this day the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Held annually, this day focuses on youth leadership and ending gender based violence. Secretary – General Ban Ki-moon stated that their challenge “is to ensure that the message of ‘zero tolerance’ is heard far and wide. To do that, we must engage all of society – and especially young people – and in particular young men and boys” (www.un.org). In addition, he stated that in order to do this, we must promote ‘“healthy models of masculinity,’ and in particular encourage young men and boys to become advocates for change” (www.un.org). Ban had also stated that the right for women to live a life without fear of violence is fundamental and is cherished within the International Human Rights Law.
By speaking out to thousands of young people about the urgent need to end violence against women, developed nations will now understand the importance of helping those who suffer from violence and furthermore assist governments in underdeveloped nations to revise laws against domestic abuse, provide universal access to emergency services for survivors, engage men and boys in programs promoting violence against women, and bring perpetrators to justice.
After the conference for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women was held, a report was created giving recommendations to underdeveloped nations about how to improve the law in order to decrease violence. In consequence, information and communication was directly used to better the developement of nations and bring us one step closer to achieving our goals.