Gender ICT divide worsens in Senegal

COMPUTING

|
Image: By BiztechAfrica
Gender ICT divide worsens in Senegal

By Issa Sikiti da Silva, Dakar, Senegal

The female illiteracy rate in Senegal stands at 61.3%, the World Bank says, while the World Economic Forum ranked this West African country 90th in its 2011 Global Gender Gap Index. Women overall have one chance in three less than men of benefiting from the African information society in Senegal, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Mali and Mauritania, according to the Gender Digital Divide in Francophone Africa: A Harsh Reality, a report jointly published by ENDA, OSIRIS and ARTP.

The six countries, described by ITU as being ‘on the worst side’ of the world digital divide, had very little data available on gender-ICT policy convergence, and their gender did not interconnect with ICT policies, the report said.

It is difficult to ascertain whether some progress has been made since the report was published in 2005. However, the lack of solid data monitoring the gender digital divide makes the issue even more complex to understand.

In Senegal, where the 2010 gender parity law that put 64 women in the newly-elected 150-member Parliament has been criticised by hardliners as ‘unfair’ and violating traditional and religious principles, the picture is somewhat bleaker, as one woman found out.

“I don’t know how bad it is in other African countries, but the gap in Senegal is widening year after year,” former telecommunications employee and feminist Fatou Diop told Biztechafrica, as she was busy teaching computer skills to three women in the back of her house in central Dakar.

“You don’t need any statistics to assess the impact of gender digital inequality in Senegal, all you need is to look around to see for yourself.

“We have made some inroads in ICT in the past five years or so, but there’s still no place for women, especially the poor and rural ones.”

The report noted that gender disparities are the most serious among poor and illiterate women.

The three women in their mid-thirties – rural-like, semi-literate, veiled and enthusiastic – seemed to enjoy their first experience in front of the two old, battered computer desktops fitted with Microsoft Office 2003.

“They can only write and speak a little bit of French, but they are getting there. Their fundamental aim is to land on Facebook and Skype, open email accounts and type a document, and I’m doing the best I can,” Diop said.

Diop blamed politicians and policymakers for failing to come up with ICT policies that enable equal access to both men and women in terms of content, connectivity, control and capacities.

The report deplored the sys­tematic way in which gender aspects are being overlooked dur­ing the process of drafting and implementing ICT policies, saying that it is of concern to analysts of the information society’s development.

In the Bridge Gender and ICTs Overview Report, Anita Gurumurthy lists the following obstacles hampering women’s  access to ICT:

  • Illiteracy
  • Unfamiliarity with the dominant languages of the Internet
  • Lack of training in computer skills
  • Domestic responsibilities
  • Information delivered by ICTs not being valuable to them
  • Infrastructure: mostly concentrated in urban areas whereas more women live in rural areas
  •  Public ICT facilities, which have a great tendency to become men-only spaces, are effectively inhibiting women’s access

A courtesy visit to an internet café in the vicinity of Diop’s house led to the discovery of grown-up men and schoolboys busy surfing the Internet, while a group of six schoolgirls surrounded one computer, checking videos on YouTube.

“Why would my wives worry about IT skills and for what good reason would they want to join Facebook or whatever you call it,” one polygamist man charged.

“They must stay at home to take care of the kids and cook for us, and study the Qur’an. This is Senegal! Women can’t just do things as they please.”

“Yes, my friends and I are all computer literate and we want to study IT at university to become computer wizards,” schoolgirl Jaineba Sarr said, laughing.

However, the Gender Digital Divide in Francophone Africa warned that while these ‘women of tomorrow’ with a secondary school education seem exempt from these gender disparities, they are still only being prepared for a secondary role as consumers and ‘helping hands’ in the information society.



Share the News

Get Daily Newsletter

Search News

comments powered by Disqus

MORE COMPUTING NEWS

Resolving the data centre disconnect

The disconnect between virtualised applications and physical storage is costing businesses time and money.    Read More

CPN could boost Nigeria’s revenue by N4.5b yearly

Dr. Adesina S. Sodiya, Prof. Vincent Asor and the Acting Registrar/Secretary to CPN Council  The Computer Professionals (Registration Council of Nigeria) or CPN says it has the capacity to boost Federal Government’s revenue with N4.5 billion yearly. Read More

Nokia aims to make Ghana’s ICT market more dynamic

Nokia says the introduction of its first innovation road show in Ghana is geared towards offering the country’s ICT market the opportunity to benefit from Nokia’s state-of-the-art technologies and concepts to transform networks to be more dynamic, agile and evolving. Read More

M2M technology driving agriculture’s industrialisation

The agriculture and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sectors are heading for a union that is being brought about by natural calamity, economic developments and changes in the ICT space. Read More

Penplusbytes to share experience at 8th ICT4D Conference in Nairobi, Kenya

The Executive Director of Penplusbytes, Kwami Ahiabenu II, will be speaking on promoting effective governance using ICTs at the eighth annual ICT4D conference  underway  in Nairobi, Kenya. Read More

Dirt to data – The new revolution in agriculture

It is estimated that, through technological innovation, the Internet of Things (IoT) has the potential to increase agricultural productivity in Africa by 70% by 2050.  Read More

Criticism over Remita borne out of ignorance, says SystemSpecs

The CEO of SystemSpecs, the company behind the revenue-saving Nigerian Single Treasury Account (TSA) system, speaks to Biztechafrica. Read More

MainOne joins global effort to support women in ICT

MainOne has lent its voice to the global campaign urging girls and young women to consider careers in the growing information and communications technology (ICT) sector during the International Girls in ICT Day. Read More

Huawei identifies unique cloud solutions for Nigeria

ICT solutions provider Huawei said after a comprehensive study of Nigerian enterprise terrain, it has defined its cloud transformation agenda along four segmentations. Read More

100 non-profits receive Microsoft grants to close gap in computer science

Microsoft Philanthropies has announced grants for over 100 non-profits worldwide, of which 14 are in the Middle East and Africa.  Read More

PRESS OFFICES

Sage EnterpriseSAP AfricaTrust PayVMWareSamsung ElectronicsMitsumi DistributionPhoenix DistributionMTN BusinessSchneider ElectricMultichoiceMicrosoft 4AfrikaNetworks UnlimitedArbor Networks

FEATURED STORY

Government should encourage youths in ICT earlyGovernment should encourage youths in ICT early

Youths should be given more encouragement to develop their ICT skills, an 11-year-old app developer told Kokumo Goodie.

IN DEPTH

IBM Opens First Cloud Data Centre in South AfricaIBM Opens First Cloud Data Centre in South Africa

IBM is opening a new IBM Cloud Data Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa. The new cloud center is the result of a close collaboration with Gijima and Vodacom and is designed to support cloud adoption and customer demand across the continent.  

COMPANY NEWS

Resolving the data centre disconnect

The disconnect between virtualised applications and physical storage is costing businesses time and money.   

Separating the attack that matters from the noise

It has almost become the norm for a business to be compromised by a security attack. The emphasis today is thus more on how a business responds ...

MTN Business partners SMEasy to give entrepreneurs access to easy accounting solutions

MTN Business, in partnership with online accounting tool SMEasy, today announced the launch of an agile, fit for purpose business management and easy accounting solution for small ...