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.