One of the objectives of MDG #8 is to “make available the benefits of new technologies, especially information and communications”. When I read this objective a few questions popped in my head. Who are we making this benefits available to? Should we focus on a particular group? And finally should we put particular emphasis on women? According to the report published by the International Center for Research on Women titled “Bridging the Gender Divide” paying special attention to women when introducing ICTs should be of vital importance. By investing in ICT access for women both MDG #3 (Promote gender equality and empower women) and #8 (Develop a global partnership for development) can be addressed. The report states that “Improving women’s access to technology has the potential to spur their economic advancement and stimulate broader economics growth”.
Although it makes sense to invest in ICT access for women there a lot of barriers that make this difficult. The report lists four main barriers that impede female access to technology: Exclusion from technology education and design, limited free time, social norms favoring men, and financial institutional constraints. Although it can be hard to overcome these barriers when implementing ICT policy or programs if entities implementing these want to get the most out of them in regards of fulfilling the MDGs they should pay special attention to women. Luckily the report has a short list of to do and not to do basics when implementing ICTs in order for them to be inclusive for women. The report states that entities should:
- Engage women throughout the design and deployment process
- Focus on sectors likely to convey rapid and significant benefits
- Reach for partners with complementary capabilities
- Invest in training that is obviously needed
Additionally it states that they should not:
- Underestimate the complexity of ensuring access to and sustained use of existing and new technologies
- Reduce women to their role as end users
- Forget to document the journey
In conclusion, ICTs are important in the development of MDGs however if they are truly to be used to their full potential special emphasis should be taken on how they interact with certain groups particularly women.