Tag Archives: television

Gender Inequality in Côte d’Ivoire

In class today, we had a presentation on gender inequality by Keshet Bachan, a gender equality expert from Israel. Among her talking points, Bachan noted that there are many forms of violence against adolescent woman, including trafficking and prostitution, and that many women who come from poor backgrounds are vulnerable to this sort of violence.

In my country papers for this class, I researched the Francophone West African state of Côte d’Ivoire. Through this research and my interest in this nation, I have learned that it lags behind many of its neighbors in the different ICT sectors and that there is much gender inequality in the state. The government does not invest much money, if any at all, in women’s education or fertility. And along those lines and echoing Bachan’s presentation, female mutilation/cutting is a common practice. UNICEF defines female mutilation as “the partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for cultural or other non-therapeutic reasons.” This is particularly a problem in Cote d’Ivoire where a national law was adopted in 1998 to criminalize the activity. It is a problem among people who do not have access to education, the Muslim population and the Voltaïques and Northern Monde ethnic groups, where over 70% of the women are mutilated. Genital mutilation is not only a problem for the obvious reasons of discriminating against and suppressing women, but it also leads to child mortality and makes it easier for adolescent women to contract HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.

Genital mutilation in Côte d’Ivoire is a form of social integration and sometimes a required religious ritual of purification. Seeing that female mutilation was in direct conflict with four of the Millennium Development Goals, (MDG 3: promoting gender equality & empowering women, MDG 4: reducing child mortality, MDG 5: improving maternal health, MDG 6: combatting HIV-AIDS, malaria and other diseases) UNICEF has begun to take action to safeguard human rights in the country. Through advocacy for women’s rights, gender equality and access to education, UNICEF has been able to raise awareness about the issue and help curtail genital mutilation. They have also used nationwide technology campaigns on radio television and mobile phones to establish child protection networks and to empower adolescent and adult women. Between 2000 and 2006, national genital mutilation dropped in females from 44% to 36.4% in direct response to these radio and television campaigns. While we in the United States may scoff at the power that radio has to bring people together and raise awareness about issues, because we are so engulfed with social media and smartphones, radio is showing in Côte d’Ivoire that it is a reliable strategy to achieving gender equality in developing countries.


TalkBackTV-Your Webcam Is Now A Weapon Of Mass Communication

Everyone at some point talks back, maybe even screams at their TV. But for last 50 years TV has been a passive experience. We sit and we watch. TalkBackTV is the next step in web-video engagement, content creation and community building. TalkBackTV will turn TV into a two-way conversation because it allow users to create a virtual, web driven conversation. TalkBackTV gives the public a tool to engage the powers that be, in a way never before possible. This new service will allow everyone to become their own John Stewart, using the Fair Use laws to record copyrighted shows and insert your own comments. It lets everyone to skewer the days video events and expand the cultural conversation. Users access a video-database of the days TV events and record their comments via webcam. These comments and the TV clips they accompany are edited into finished “Rants,” hosted on TalkBackTV.net and are able to be embedded across blogs, Facebook and mobile devices. TalkBack is all about empowerment, interactivity, and leveling the playing field to give a voice to those who until now have not been heard from. It brings the casual TV watched in from the sidelines and gives them a role to play in the pop-culture conversation.

TalkBackTV, although currently not up and running, is a good example of a new and innovate piece of technology. For first time this website will allow people who are just sitting at home at their computers have a say. With more voices heard, there is more potential for change. In countries around the world where censorship exists, this website could allow people to speak out against oppression, legally or illegally. It will be interesting to see what becomes of TalkBackTV in the future.

Thailand’s ICT Usage Could Not Be More Different Than Many African Countries

This week, we looked at an article that highlighted gender inequalities in ICT usage in African countries.  While the numbers were interesting and usage was low, it described a greatly different picture than what I had experienced during my time in Thailand, and therefore does not tell the whole story of ICT and gender in developing countries.

Even while living in rural Thailand, in the poorest region of the country, it seemed that technology was everywhere.  Everyone had a mobile phone – and this includes those living in villages with no electricity or running water!  Internet cafes were extremely popular, and you could get free wifi at every restaurant, tea shop, cafe, and even markets.  TVs were a HUGE part of Thai culture, every household had a TV and it was turned on every night for hours.  At the University, every student had laptops and cell phones, and sometimes even an iPad too.  My Thai roommate had a Blackberry, iPad, TV, and laptop!  There were entire malls dedicated to technology sales – computers, phones, etc.  Facebook is HUGE, and everyone had one – even my homestay brothers and sisters in rural villages, giving an indication of what Internet access might be!  Gender did not seem to be an issue, in fact, it almost seemed as if females had more access and were using technology more!

If you compare my observations to what the study of African countries, there couldn’t be more of a contrast.  To make sure my experiences weren’t completely off base, I did some research on ICT usage in Thailand.  And guess what?  There are more mobile phones in Thailand than there are people!


As I thought, there isn’t much of a gender disparity with 33% of males using the internet, compared to 31% of females.  In fact, although it is 31% of women using the internet, more than half of Thailand’s internet users are female!  (http://www.thailandinternet.com/internet-statistics-for-thailand.html)

Internet Demographics in Thailand

Internet Demographics in Thailand

Thailand’s overall internet penetration is 27%, but those who are connected to the internet are using it 50% more than TV (http://wearesocial.net/blog/2012/01/social-digital-mobile-thailand/).

Besides there being more mobile phones than people, the mobile market is over 100%!


A survey showed that, 91% of Thais surveyed reported that they had used a cell phone in the last three months and that 90% of women had cellphones, compared to 80% of men (http://www.nationmultimedia.com/life/How-the-poor-use-cell-phones-30173682.html).

Check out the data below from a UN report from the International Seminar on Information and Communication Technology Statistics in 2010.  The region I stayed in was the Northeast and is the rural and poor in the nation.

Source: Santipaporn, S. (2010). Information and Communication Technology Statistics in Thailand. National Statistical Office.

Source: Santipaporn, S. (2010). Information and Communication Technology Statistics in Thailand. National Statistical Office.

Santipaporn, S. (2010). Information and Communication Technology Statistics in Thailand. National Statistical Office.

Santipaporn, S. (2010). Information and Communication Technology Statistics in Thailand. National Statistical Office.

Needless to say, I wasn’t surprised by the numbers I found.  Do any of these numbers shock you?

Shamba Shape Up: Extreme Makeover Kenyan Edition

All of us have either heard of or seen make-over shows in the US, but “Shamba Shape Up,” a television show in Kenya, provides a different type of make over.  Each episode of the show features a farmer who is struggling with his business. The Shamba Shape Up team swoops in and teaches the farmer how to improve his crop yield by planting different crops, installing new irrigation systems etc, often calling in experts to explain and demonstrate the recommended changes.

This article talks about the success of the show since it was first broadcasted in 2007. Mostly funded by the Department of International Development in the UK, Shamba Shape Up also incorporates an interactive aspect. Viewers are encouraged to text or e mail questions to the show, some of which have served as inspirations for entire episodes. Viewers can also text in requests for informational pamphlets and communicate questions on the show’s Facebook page, which is getting more and more traffic as Kenyans start to enter the world of social media.

Although it may seem unlikely that many rural Kenyans would have access to televisions, it appears that the shows audience is quite large. In just one season of the show, 16,000 leaflets were requested and over 22,000 text messages were received. Viewer surveys are also promising. 40 percent responded that they have changed their farming practices after watching the show, and 91 percent responded that they had learned something new. A similar show, Makutano Junction, which focuses on general development issues has 7.2 million viewers in Kenya, the majority of whom live in rural areas.

I think that Shamba Shape Up is an excellent example of a way to combine several types of ICTs in a way that is fun, entertaining, and can help a lot of people.

Here’s a clip of the show where they talk about drip irrigation:

BRIDGEit in Tanzania

Bridgeit is an ICT initiative (specifically mEducation), which aims to, increase the quality of education specifically mathematics, science, and life skills in primary school though the use of mobile phones and television. Teachers are provided with access to a digital catalogue of short educational videos. They are also provided with a Nokia mobile phone, which they use to download these videos (via a server). The mobile phone is connected to a television in the classroom, so that the videos can be broadcasted for the class to view. Additionally, the videos come with interactive lesson plans for the teachers to follow, which address key concepts/ideas that the video introduces (erumi). Some of the schools were focused on just mathematics and science, while others were focused on mathematics, science, and life skills.

What is interesting to note about this project is that the education aspect of it does not focus on the mobile phone like those in the past; the mobile phone is just the medium in which the educational video is downloaded through. The main aspect of technology here is the television where the students watch the educational video.

Another interesting part of this program is that its implementers worked in collaboration with the Tanzanian government, as well as community organizations. By involving respected community members in the research process of the initiative, this project adhered to the human centered design toolkit’s phase “hear.” Additionally, because of government involvement this is a more dynamic approach to the legitimate implementation and sustainability ICT’s in Tanzania’s education sector, which was a main goal of their ICT policy.

An Evaluation was done for the first year. Overall, test scores of students in BridgeIT and BridgeIT + Life Skills in both math and science increased. Some other results that came back from the attitude questionnaires indicated that teachers received a lot of support from various outlets. Although the above results came back positive, there also were negative results: the teachers had decreased satisfaction with their jobs, and the students initially thought the video content was boring. But when students became more accustomed to the video learning, they found that the videos increased their understanding of math and science (Enge &Kjell).

Although I believe a proper evaluation was conducted, it did not mention anything about infrastructure in terms of electricity with this program (main problem in Tanzania), which was a main component of it. Additionally, it did not mention anything about what happened when the mobile phones were broken, or if there was a problem with theft.

China Expanding Its International Media Footprint

With the Chinese media already on tight patrol, you wouldn’t expect one of their largest news channels to expand to worldwide proportions. But recently, officials announced that China’s CCTV News is going to increase its coverage to 156 countries, hoping to reach more than 219 million homes worldwide. The Communist country has long endured a contentious relationship with its news networks. David Bandurski, editor of the China Media Project, said, “The role of the media as defined by the (Communist) Party is to serve the party’s interests.” When the role of the media for development purposes is to provide truthful and valuable information to marginalized people, this produces somewhat of a conflict. Not only is truthful information not reaching rural and marginalized communities in China, but the government wants to expand coverage for its public image, something that has gained criticism since the Olympics in 2008. The international event provided China with the opportunity to display its organization and beautified tradition, but it consequently highlighted its political repression and stifling security. Although the growing CCTV claims its intent on “delivering balanced information and reporting swiftly and from all angles,” their newly appointed editor, Hu Zhanfan recently reprimanded journalists who placed the truth above loyalty to the party, saying news must always reflect “our party and country’s political stance.” This appears disheartening for the millions of Chinese who recently witnessed the killing of a South Korean coast guard officer by a Chinese fisherman, and heard little of it in the news. Going back to the purposes ICT4D, Chinese fishermen and coast guards are stakeholders in communicating that information. They would need information on where to be cautious of dangerous fishermen at sea and to be wary of possible lootings, to look out for violent storms, or where overfishing taking place. Instead, the CCTV will not be providing those stakeholders with that information. They will just be securing their public image in television homes around the world and maintaining their loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party.