When approaching development and the use of ICTs in development it is important to keep the reality of gender at the forefront of your activities. This process of gender mainstreaming, or the conscious inclusion of how development projects effect men and women differently and how men’s and women’s needs also differ, has been the topic of discussion this week in IDT4D and there is some interesting data and gender divides present in the use of ICTs. Through the discussion of a policy paper we were confronted with the data that proved our hypothesis that there is indeed a gender divide present in the use of ICTs in development, and in particular in the use of mobile phones. For the most part women were less inclined to own a mobile phone and that when they do own them they are often gifted and that women do not use them as often, or in the same manner as men. With this information there are a number of organizations that are trying to bridge this divide and provide women with the means and skills to use mobile phones to empower themselves. There are four organizations featured in an article that, in 2010, received grants to implement projects that will help women in rural areas of Uganda build awareness about and learn to report domestic violence through the use of ICTs. One organization, Mahyoro Rural Information Centre (MARIC), appears to be making great strides in enhancing women’s lives through ICTs.
MARIC appears to be project under the Women of Uganda Network and it works to enhance the exchange of information and experience of ICTs through out communities in Kitagwenda. They have implemented several ICT projects since its inception in 2006. These projects include the production of puppet shows that educate about the importance of women’s rights and the use of ICTs and the Enhancing Access to Agricultural Information project. The project that they received the funding for is a more gender based ICT campaign designed to combat violence against women using ICTs. This campaign trained 34 grassroots women’s organizations use ICTs to address violence against women and girls. The training included learning to set up hotlines and use mobile phones to spread messages about events. At the end of the training 21 Community Resource Persons were given phones to implement their ideas and spread information about their program as well as information about sexual health and resources available to victims.
(Community Resource Persons receiving training)
This project seems, in theory, to be very beneficial in educating women about their rights as well as the use of ICTs, but there are many questions left unanswered. After scouring the Internet for information about the success of the project I ended empty-handed. Other than the information on the Women of Uganda Network from November 22, 2011 there is nothing. There was not information about many of the women that the project was targeting had access to mobile phones to receive the information, based on the policy paper I assume that it is not many. The lack of monitoring, or information about the monitoring, taking place also makes me wonder how the 21 Community Resource Persons were able to reach out to the women of Kitagwenda.