Gender Inequality in Africa

Gender inequality is rarely discussed when speaking about mobile cell phones in rural underdeveloped villages. Women, who are taken away from their place of birth and brought to the village of their new-found spouse, have little to no communication with their family and friends at home. The Grameen Village Phone project is one of the very few projects that is specifically aimed at women and gender practices. In Africa, women have always been active members in the economy, yet as the world becomes powered by mobile phones, it is feared that men will take control. Some questions that are asked are as follows:

“Will mobiles ultimately narrow or widen the gender opportunity gap? If Internet for the next billion will be different because it will be supported by mobile phones, will women and girls have access to it, and will it benefit their lives?” (An Anthropologist Goes Techno -Post no longer available)

When answering such questions, it is important to understand that gender inequality is not only a socio-economic issue but also a cultural issue. Dominant practices such as kinship obligations, honor and shame systems, and dowries are not only a part of their culture but a part of the structure of the community. The anthropologists that had reported on this issue and are involved within the Grameen Village Phone project, stated that before policies are developed anthropologists must first study the village and understand what changes must be made before development projects are emplaced.

This research initiative is an ongoing project and I am curious to see the information that is received from it.

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One response to “Gender Inequality in Africa

  • mariahvb

    I wouldn’t necessarily say that “Africa,” especially as a whole, has issues with gender inequality. Of course, this is a constant theme in all parts of the world, but by no means am I saying that such inequalities are okay. I just believe that the way in which the culture is structured in many places, we as westerners will see certain practices as a form of “gender inequity.”

    As unfortunate as it may be, traditionally, in all parts of the world, any new technology or opportunity tends to be dominated by men. Many African countries, such as Liberia and Rwanda have both had female heads of states and many tribes are known for having a matriarchal society, but from face value, it may not seem to be the case.

    I don’t think making changes to the culture should pre-date a development project, but we should design the project in a way that recognizes what works and what doesn’t work in a particular society.

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