Gender ICT divide worsens in Senegal
COMPUTING| Dec. 6, 2012, 4:44 p.m.
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:
- 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.
MORE COMPUTING NEWS
Malawi commemorates Girls in ICT dayMalawi has joined other International Telecommunication Union (ITU) member states in celebrating the International Girls in ICT Day. Read More
MINESEC, MTN Foundation seek best ICT use in teachingMINESEC and the MTN Foundation in Cameroon have launched the second edition of a competition to find the teacher making the best use of ICTs for teaching. Read More
‘Weather Station for Schools’ Project to build students’ skillsOracle Academy and the Raspberry Pi Foundation have officially launched Oracle Raspberry Pi Weather Station for Schools,an ambitious project to join thousands of schools in Africa and around the world in a global science experiment. Read More
BNPC releases Global Information Technology Report 2015The Botswana National Productivity Centre (BNPC) in partnership with Ministry of Transport and Communications and its related public institutions, has released the 2015 Global Information Technology Report (GITR). Read More
Africa’s competitive business environment spurs IT services adoptionEmerging African economies are increasingly embracing IT services solutions in a bid to support their growth initiatives, according to the latest insights released by International Data Corporation (IDC). Read More
DevOps: The worst-kept secret to winning in the application economyCA reveals how DevOps is the key to winning in the brave new world of the application economy. Read More
Tech in South Sudan “born with teeth” – analystSouth Sudan was “born with teeth” as far as its ICT development is concerned, according to an analyst, with the country having made positive steps even pre-independence. Read More
Innovative BAC Stand gets an A++ at BTE Fair 2015Botswana Accountancy College (BAC) which recently unveiled two new industry technology courses received top accolades among several other international awards for their exhibition stand at the Botswana Tertiary Education Conference and Fair 2015 (BTEF). Read More
@iLabAfrica to stage kids’ ICT boot camp@iLabAfrica, Strathmore University is organizing a 9-day Holiday Boot Camp for Primary and High School Students from 7th April 2015 to 17th April. Read More
FEATURED STORYe-commerce space untapped, says phonekings head
E-commerce is the future, says the head of a new online electronics mall launched in Nigeria. Tayo Olusanya spoke to Kokumo Goodie in Lagos.
BEST READ NEWS
IN DEPTHVillagers get solar training at Barefoot College
The Botswana Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) has seconded seven semi-illiterate mostly Ngwatle villagers for a six month solar electrification training course at the famed Barefoot College in India.
COMPANY NEWSICT skills in Kenya to grow as ICT Authority and Microsoft sign MOU
Kenya’s ICT Authority and Microsoft have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which will, among other things, see Microsoft offer support in providing a platform that will ...