Women’s Role in Bridging the Digital Divide in Africa

This article discusses the potential role that African women could play in bridging the digital divide in Africa. Though the article does not cover the topic in-depth, it made me think of the ways in which women might play a role in bridging this divide in developing countries. Women are primarily responsible for childcare in most of the developing world, and therefore, they have the potential to introduce their children to the many uses of ICTs. If women received greater training in the use of technology, jobs that were previously available only to men might become more accessible to women.  This would help women to gain a greater foothold in the formal sector in places like Latin America where great numbers of women work in the informal sector. Greater access to information might allow women to learn new methods of contraception and disease prevention, cures for minor illnesses and injuries, methods for lightening their household duties, or job openings they might otherwise not learn about.

These possibilities are exciting and inspiring, but the article did not discuss in detail how to go about granting women greater access to information and communication technology. Though the article mentions a few potential avenues for helping women in this capacity (workplace training and mentoring, etc.), I would be interested to hear more specific ideas about ways in which to increase women’s role in bridging the digital divide.

3 responses to “Women’s Role in Bridging the Digital Divide in Africa

  • stinamurph

    In every development class I have ever taken it has been highlighted that educating women is the most important and successful thing that can be done. When women are educated the economy improves and the average number of children they give birth to drops which is important because the population is growing at such unsustainable levels. Maybe providing women with technology training will also provide these benefits while “leapfrogging” a “normal” education and providing women with even more economic success in their countries.

  • stinamurph

    The potential “opportunity to leapfrog the earlier stages of technological development to address food security and human development concern” is a remarkable yet generally unrealistic idea. Training African women in IT jobs would likely have innumerable benefits, varying from delayed reproduction and decreased TFR to the possibility of supporting a family and setting standards of female education. Yet the idea of leapfrogging to create new technological paradigms is a stretch in an area of the world so deprived of even basic technology and without security in the most basic human needs.

  • stinamurph

    More specific ideas about ways in which to increase women’s role in bridging the digital divide will include personal devices and Internet use. The New Women Business Magazine sites the use of solar-powered cell phones and Internet without electricity to advance women in the developing world. As Jessica has stated, this would improve the livelihoods of women and in turn benefit the overall economy.

    Internet without electricity is an especially exciting program. GNUveau Networks uses a solar-powered innovation to bring internet to incredibly remote areas. Wifi coverage spans a 2-mile radius, with no fuel costs, and a lifespan of up to 20 years with proper maintenance. The system is non-polluting. In fact, it operates on about the same amount of power as a 100-watt light bulb. The system is already in use in Nigeria.


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