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

comments powered by Disqus

MORE COMPUTING NEWS

WiniGroup, Ivetec train 500 Babcock lecturers on TCCDR

The 500 lecturers of Babcock University, Ilishan-Remo, Ogun State, have undergone a comprehensive training on technology usage on the platform of Total Classroom & Campus Digital Revolution (TCCDR) Project embarked upon by the university, which will see all their lecture rooms wirelessly connected. Read More

MainOne supports call for in-country data hosting

The management of MainOne’s Tier III Data Center, MDX-i is lending its voice to the call by the Office for Nigerian Content in Information and Communication Technology for Nigerian companies to host their data in-country, to avoid further foreign exchange losses. Read More

The importance of big data for Africa in 2016

Understanding big data, as a concept and an offering, will have a massive impact on the African continent, says PBT Group. Read More

Ericsson Data Analytics solution captures rise of the Internet of Things

Ericsson has launched the User & IoT Data Analytics solution that will help operators improve internal efficiency in managing data from subscribers and Internet of Things (IoT) devices while exploring new cross-vertical IoT applications. Read More

More network decomposition expected in 2016

Jason Dover, Director of Product Line Management at KEMP Technologies, looks at the changing network and more technology trends to look out for in 2016. Read More

Automotive Display Systems to grow to $18.6bn by 2021

Driven by continued innovation in vehicle connectivity and safety technologies, global revenue from automotive display systems will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 11 percent to $18.6 billion by the end of 2021, says IHS.  Read More

Rack Centre honoured with Data Centre Impact Award

Rack Centre, Nigeria’s Premium Data Centre provider, has won the 2015 Data Centre Dynamics Award for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region in the Data Centre Impact Category. Read More

ITU members agree international standard for Big Data

ITU members have approved the first ITU standard on Big Data. The international standard details the requirements, capabilities and use cases of cloud-based Big Data as well a high-level ‘system context’ view and its relationships with other entities.  Read More

Ovum: move to digital services biggest telco IT trend to watch in 2016

Personalising the customer experience, improving operational efficiency and moving to new delivery models are some the top IT trends to expect from telcos in 2016, according to global analyst firm Ovum. Read More

10 hot consumer trends for 2016

Ericsson ConsumerLab's report on the 10 hottest consumer trends for 2016 and beyond finds that consumers believe artificial intelligence will soon enable interaction with objects without the need for a smartphone screen. Read More

PRESS OFFICES

Sage EnterpriseSAP AfricaSage Pastel AccountingTrust PayVMWareSamsung ElectronicsMitsumi DistributionPhoenix DistributionMTN BusinessSchneider ElectricMultichoiceMicrosoft 4AfrikaNetworks Unlimited

FEATURED STORY

Viber Spreads Good Vibes in Africa with the introduction of public chats Viber Spreads Good Vibes in Africa with the introduction of public chats

Viber, one of the leading messaging and calling apps with more than 664 million unique users worldwide, has opened its latest social channel ‘Public Chats’ to partners in Africa and the Middle East. 

IN DEPTH

Poised for greater heights – Roshi Motman, AfricaCom CEO of the Year WinnerPoised for greater heights – Roshi Motman, AfricaCom CEO of the Year Winner

Roshi Motman is not your average CEO. Since taking up the reins as the first female CEO of Tigo Ghana in 2014, she has led the Tigo brand through a remarkable transformation. 

COMPANY NEWS

Arbor Networks maintains leadership in IHS Infonetics Report on DDoS prevention appliances

Arbor Networks was identified once again as the top supplier of DDoS mitigation appliances overall, as well as in the Carrier, Enterprise and Mobile market segments, according ...