This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
At the Beijing conference, media in ICTs were codified as one of the 12 critical areas of concern for women. It is estimated that 37% of the women in the world have access to a personal computer (PC) [UNIFEM Report on the progress of world¶s women, 2002]. The percentage figure for female home internet users is 23 for India, while the Asia average is 22% [NASCOMM, 2000].In a developing country like India, ICT issues centre on computer literacy, women¶s access to the internet ± information being an important resource- and, the role of new technologies in bringing economic empowerment to women. Since Indian women are over-represented among the poor, the illiterate and low educated groups they remain outside the pale of the information society. India has one of the lowest rates of computer ownership and internet access. It is estimated that computer ownership in India is at 0.67%, and it is expected to show a fivefold increase by 2010. A 2003 global survey from Nielsen/Net rating, a media and IT research group, found that only in every 14 Indian households with telephones had internet access via home pc, in contrast to 80% of households in Asia and Australasia. By far the most common access for urban women is the tiered franchised business model-the cybercafés prevalent in urban centres. It is equivalent to the information kiosk in rural areas. Besides, cybercafés often double up as training centre, providing basic skills to those who need it. The enrolment figure for women in India in technology and engineering disciplines was 11.14 percent in 1994 (IAMR 1995). As far as economic opportunities are concerned, women tend to be concentrated in end use, low skilled information technology(IT) jobs such as data entry and word processing and make up only a tiny percentage of marginal, maintenance and design personnel in networks, operating system or software. However, women are making inroads into higher levels of the IT workforce, and their participation in this sectors increasing. In 1993, women comprised 10 percent of the workforce, which increased to 18 per cent in 1998, the national average being 12 percent. Besides software, many of the new jobs are in call centres, business process outsourcing (BPO) and geographical information system (GIS) [NASSCOM-McKinney 1999] Heike Jensen, the coordinator of the gender advocacy group, stated that `information and communication are at the root of every society¶s core process of negotiating power, norms, values and realties. Peaceful change is impossible without utilising media and ICTs, while hegemonic powers presently utilise these for spreading their ideologies¶ (Jensen 2005: 10). Ashima goyal lists the benefits that ICTs can bring to women. Unlike earlier technologies which marginalised women, ICTs offer possibilities as it compensates for womens traditional disadvantages. She outlines the various avenues for remunerative work, and argues for the need of IT education for girls and women. She concludes by challenging the earlier focus of feminists, who believed that to be equal one must mimic men. Bridging the digital divide become crucial if women are to be global citizens. Aniker Haseloff ans Rehana Ghadially in their chapter µGender, cybercafés and internet access: bridging the digital divide? µ consider the role of cybercafés in bridging the gen der-based digital divide. The empirical work highlights three aspects. First, there are the reason for not accessing the internet and motives for future use. Second, it studies the age, income, language proficiency and place of internet access among male and female users of the internet. Lastly it examines, among other things, the usage pattern of those who frequent cybercafés. Farida umrani and Rehana ghadially consider computer skills as the key ingredient in women¶s advancement
ICT and the technological u ±turn for women GOYAL ASHIMA
Women allocate more time to the household, often at a critical period in their career. This lowers their productivity in the external labour market and by lowering learning by doing in remunerative skills, lowers future earnings as well. ICTs make it possible for women to gain economic independedance and status without having to become identical to men. In economics, Kuznets inverted U is well known as the hypothesis that inequality first increases and then decreases with development. In the same way, technology may be able to help women more in its later stages than it did in the earlier ones, and allow them to revert to being more themselves Gender differences are compounded by those created by income inequalities, caste, religion, urbanrural divides, and cultural differences across regions. But ICTs great advantages are its own flexibility, as well as the flexibility, it makes possible. Therefore it can contribute to each category. The internet has been dominated by males since its inception. Although use of the internet by females has increased dramatically in the last few years, women and girls worldwide still use the internet less and in different ways than males. Low internet use by females not only gives them less access to information and services available online, but also can have negative economic and educational consequences. UNDP (1999) noted that in that year women formed 38 per cent of US internet users, 25 per cent in Brazil, 17 per cent in Japan, 16 per cent in Russia, 7 per cent in china, and only 4 per cent in the arab states. The women¶s movement recognises the importance of the internet, but fears are expressed that women may be left behind and end up as have-nots. The reasons for this fear are that women may have less online access than man because they have less time, money, control, learning opportunities, and more of other commitments, and because they give priority to others needs.
History: power and technology
Lewis 1955, µit may be possible for men to debate the desirability of economic growth; it was not possible for women to do so since growth gave them the chance to µcease to be beasts of burden¶ and to µjoin the human race¶ However, modernisation has not helped women as much as it was expected to. The women in development (WID) approach blamed development theory and practice for the under-representation of women in the modern sector. Boserup (1970) argued that differences between the sexes arose from differing work experiences, and with professional training women could be as productive as men in the external world. Instead, the development process had marginalised women, since new resources, experience and opportunities had largely gone to man. Historical processes were part of the reason modernisation and technological development did not liberate women as much as they were expected to. Across the world women¶s status has been better in places where they have had a productive and not merely a reproductive role In India landed property was put exclusively in male hands. From being co-partners in pre-colonial landholding arrangements women became dependents, denied access to economic resources. In translating flexible social and customary practices into legal codes, men were made the dominant
legal subject (Oldenburg 2002). This was particularly so in the patriarchal households of the northern plains, while in southern India there was less female seclusion and patrilocal residence. ICTs can allow both men and women the freedom to participate in care and nurture while maintaining active professional lives. Being at the technological frontier becomes compatible, for women, with more presence in the household and flexi-time. Banerjee and Mittar (1998) report that women are the first to lose job since they tend to do simple mechanical tasks machines can easily replace. Women have the reputation of being inflexible carriers of tradition, but this position is actually due to underlying patriarchal relation; women are regarded as technologically inept and their time is not considered valuable, they are even denied labour saving devices such as pressure cookers in the kitchen. But wadley (2000), in tracing four generation of women in a Brahmin household in karimpur, a village in Uttar Pradesh, finds changes in lifestyle, incomes, education and option. Compared to their grandmothers, women running households today have much more time because foods are processed outside. For example, they no longer have to grind flour manually. However, since the time released is not continuous, and it is difficult to find productive activity matching their skills, they spend the time largely in religious rituals. ICT can make much other option available for them, such as part time outsourcing work, entrepreneurship and marketing, or skill up gradation. There are reports stating that when higher speed internet access was introduced in the city of Birmingham, UK, it helped many single mothers make ends meet. The higher download speeds increased their efficiency, and made a whole range of new jobs requiring high- speed data access available to them. In India, cybercafés and kiosks are coming up in a big way. Ramani writes in Mitter (2000) that the growth of these kiosks has been rapid, especially in the southern states where English literacy is high. They create low-cost jobs. Internet usage skills are also spread at low cost, thus facilitating future teleworking. A survey in eight Indian cities showed that non-working women access the net 63% of the time from cybercafés, and 32% from the home (Times of India 2000a) ITCs e-choupal initiative has been spreading rapidly, and by end-2004 had covered 3.1 million villagers. It aims to reach 10 million farmers by 2010 by expanding at the rate of three choupals a day. Although its primary purpose is to provide various services for farmers, it has a well designed governance structure thar is likely to make it sustainable. Self-help NGOs that work with women have begun using the facilities, allowing them to reachlarge numbers of people (saran 2004) ICT has made it easier for NGOs to create networks and database, especially for women. Such facilities have helped many poor and suppressed women gain independence and authority, at home and in their communities. For example, Noorjehan, a poor Muslim women in Nabanna, a West Bengal village, was able to put her tailoring rates in the local e-NRICH database and receive orders from outside her neighbourhood (Ghose and Ray 2004). Organisation such as the Self-Employed womens association (SEWA) in Ahmadabad and Grameen bank in Bangladesh has been able to deliver more freedom and opportunities to their low-end members. Such association help resist the existing power centres attempts to fight change. An instance of such an attempt was the takeover by local leaders of a successful computer aided retail effort of Guyanese village women (TOI 2000b) The SHGs operate one of the biggest retail chains in the state; each district has between 10-15 of these DWACRA (Development of Women and children in Rural Areas programme). About 4.5 lakh groups cover nearly 60 lakh women. They have a large turnover, make profits and are excellent debtors,
having returned 98% of the Rs 1,000 crore so far. As a result banks are also lining up to lend to them (Pantulu 2003). Trade organisation such as PEOPLink sells the crafts of artisan from 14 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Digital reproductions of the products are displayed over the internet (UNDP 1999). ICT makes such decentralised yet global initiatives feasible.
Telework Opportunities in India
Over the last 10 years, the Indian software industry has grown at annual rates of over 50%. Nasscom (2004) estimates that in 2001-2002, it accounted for 2.87 per cent of Indian GDP, 16.5 per cent of its exports, and 500,000 direct jobs. Every direct job created 2.5 indirect jobs through supporting service industries such as catering, transport, housing, etc. In 2008 it is expected to account for 7 per cent of India¶s GDP and 30 per cent of its foreign exchange inflows with exports totalling 70-80 billion dollar, and own and indirect jobs employing four million people. IT-enabled service (ITES) is projected to reach 21-24 billion dollar, or 12 per cent of the worlds market, and create 101 million jobs by 2008. A.T. Kearney (2003) gave India the top slot as a potential location for ITES. A large share of these new job opportunities is coming to women. ITES and outsourcing often rely on distance work. For instance, of the 600 home-based workers employed by Datamatics, an Indian software company, 98 per cent are women. An example of how technology allows women to keep working and prevents decay of human capital is the case of Praveen mahtani, a young lawyer with a finance company who was allowed to work from home, using a computer, webcam, etc., through three years when she had to cope with a difficult pregnancy and baby care. Gothoskar (2000) interviewed women networkers in Mumbai and got response ranging from welcoming the freedom to fulfil family commitments to dislike of the lack of access to public and social spaces and reinforcement of the role at home. Ng and Jhin (2000) got similar responses in Malaysia, but found also that high end workers value the freedom of working from home, while lowend workers miss going out. The rise in ITES means an expansion in supportive services industry. This, together with outsourcing and the tradition of home handi crafts production in india, suggest a large future potential in home businesses.
Entrepreneurship, Self-employment and the internet : The internet can offer great aid to entrepreneurship by women. It offers database put together by womens groups, from which women can find relevant links, connections, mentoring and information , and develop partnership, not just for their services, but also for financing, mentoring and business coaching. It helps small business in many ways- displaying goods, checking prices, making contacts and writing contracts (UNDP 1999).Developing country and rural women , who produce goods and services, are able to sell directly without having to go through middleman. Table-1: Web use by affluent Indian women Categories generally surfed Jobs/careers Chat News Books Fashion Beauty/healthcare All women(%) 50 45 44 28 27 38 Working women(%) 46 39 46 33 31 38 Non-working women(%) 55 56 41 19 21 37
A survey of 24,848 high-income Indian users found that job related information dominated for women (Table 1) An interesting feature of the Rickert and Sacharow (2000) survey was that it showed that although the majority of American women make non-worker related use of the internet will allow them to use it for their careers in the future, much as internet kiosks and cybercafés, which are spreading internet skills in india, will allow an explosive growth in future use.
Learning, Training, Education and the Internet
ICT generally contributes to learning and to learning- by doing on the part of women. First, they are able to find opportunities that match their skills and requirements more easily; second, they are more easily able to maintain update their skills; third, they gain richer experience and more regular work habits, and fourth they can become technologically adept since ICT can be customised to provide a safe learning environment. It is necessary and the diversity of their needs, it can ensure fundamental changes in the generations to come. Apart from learning to use the internet itself, womens access to general training also increases. IT can create a safe space for women because they appear without gender, and so escape stereotyping in perceptions. Women learn best when the material is relevant, there is time for reflection, diverse and fun-filled ways of learning are used, there are passionate teachers, good role models, and a safe environment. They can find or create such a supportive, sharing community online. The internet aids interactivity, which is very important for effective learning. Exposure to time-management skills, essential for effective homeworking, can also be acquired. The women¶s internet conference, held in Canada in 1997, extracted these lessons on the basis of discussion Research suggests that other regarding behaviour differs with gender (Ben-Ner et al. 2003), and the womens other regarding behaviour can enhance governance. Where womens influence in public life is higher, corruption is lower. Cross- country evidence shows that a higher propration of women compared to men believe thatcorrupt actions can never be justified; this is so even accounting for individual characteristics. Women in business are less likely to pay bribes. The reson may be either that they are risk-averse or that they are more ethical. They are more likely to be altruistic and community-oriented (world bank 2001:93). When women control resources, more of them are used to benefit their children, compared to a situation where the male head of the household has full control over resources. ICT has strong potential to empower women, and with the help of ICT women can make a substantial contribution to their own development and to that of the society in which they live. Therefore, policy should focus on and leverage this new instrument that is now available.
Gender, Cybercafés and Internet Access: Bridging The Digital Divide? Haseloff Anikar and Rehana Ghadially
The digital divide is one of the most discussed social phenomena of our times (Warschauer 2003). It is generally referred to as the gap between those who have access to ICTs and necessary skills to use them, and those who do not have access or don¶t know how to use them. The concept of the digital
divide highlights a new form of poverty ---- information poverty! And therefore the digital divide has become an urgent development issue over the last few years (chopra 2005). While the existence of a digital divide in one form or the other is clearly accepted scholars, the dimensions, dynamics and relevance of this phenomenon are still being widely discussed (Compaine 2001; mossberger et al. 2003; Norris 2001) Access to and use of ICTs is considered important for development on a regional and individual level, and ICTs can be used as tools for social action and positive social change in various ways. In developing countries like India, where the overall internet penetration rates are low and people lack the necessary income and skills to make effective use of ICTs, models of public internet access like, for example, cybercafés, can have a strong impact on bridging the digital divide, especially for people with low income or low skills who economically cannot afford the hardware to access the internet. In urban areas, cybercafés are the predominant public access model. Their number is estimated at almost 50,000 in india and are used by almost 70 per cent of internet users in urban areas (paricha 2004) this high amount of cybercafés may be an indicator of their relevance.
Table 2: Internet, usage, Gender and Age Up to 19 20-29 30-39 Above 40
Total 19.3 (47) 24.7 (116) 14.8 (50) 6.9 (34) Male 24.6 (32) 33.3 (70) 19.6 (35) 10.5 (26) Female 13.7 (15) 21.5 (46) 9.5 (15) 3.3 (8)
When examined according to age, the data clearly showed that internet use correlated significantly with age. Table 2 shows that internet use is strongest in the age group of respondents younger than 29 years, and then steadily declines with an increase in age. The table also provides the internet usage according to age and gender. The younger section of the urban population used the internet much more than other age groups. Whil the internet is used by substantial proportion of the society in the age group below 30, internet usage needs to be spread, especially in the age groups above 40. The table further shows that the gender divide between male and female users is found in every age category
Language and internet usage
Another important variable that could influence internet usage is language, more specifically the ability to speak English. Internet usage correlates significantly with the ability to speak English. Of course, the ability to speak English depends strongly on education and the socio-economic level. It can be argued that in order to make use of the internet , one needs to understand English speakers. It can be argued that in order to make use of the internet, one needs to understand English because of the prevalence of content in English on the web. But in reality, considerable content is nowdays available in a variety of Indian languages, so the lack of content cannot explain this pattern. The relation between language and internet use needs to be investigated further in future studies, as there could be some interesting mechanism between language ability in internet usage that are not limited to the relation between content and language.
The place of internet access Table 3 : gender and place of internet access Total Male Female 25 (62) 25.5 (42) 24.1 (20) Home 43.5 (108) 46.7 (77) 37.3 (31) Work 15.7 (39) 17.0 (28) 13.3 (11) At friends place 26.6 (66) 25.5 (42) 28.9 (24) School/university 66.1 (164) 66.7 (110) 65.1(54) Cybercafé Notes: multiple answer possible [all figure in per cent of respondents (totals)]
N = 25
We can see that both men and women use the internet at more or less the same access points. Table 3 gives an overview on gender and access place. The overall pattern of access to the internet from the different access place shows the same ranking for both groups. Cybercafés are the most often used access point, followed by work and school. Home-use , the prevalent access place in developed countries, is ranked only at fourth place. Not surprisingly, the possibility to access the net from work is much higher for males than for females, which may reflect the current employment patterns in which men are more likely to be working and may perhaps be in better positions, and are therefore more likely to have access to the internet at work than women. Males also use cybercafés and a friends place more often, whereas for female respondents, besides the cybercafé, the access place school/ university was more important. The use of the internet was distributed highly unevenly between males and females, showing a strong gender divide in the upper and middle classes of urban India. This gender divide is consistent even if controlling for other variables like age or income. Therefore, the gender divide needs to be taken as a serious pattern and research as well as programmes are needed in order to close this divide . in this context, the research showed clearly that cybercafés could play an important role for women when it came to accessing the internet and ICTs.
Empowering Women Through ICT Education : Facilitating Computer Adoption Umrani Farida and Rehana Ghadially
Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are driving forces of the present century marked by globalization and technological advancement. ICTs permit access to information and resources that encourage women to acquire education and skills, to transcend social restriction, gain control, mainstream into development, and thus, get empowered. Women in developing countries are in the deepest part of the digital divide. Lack of access to ICT thus becomes a significant factor in their marginalisation from economic, social and political participation (Huyer and carr 2002: Mitter 1999).
ICT and Gender Studies
Huyer (1997) advocated that womens access to technology and training is basic requirement for their participation in the global information economy. It offers women useful tools for generating and transmitting their needs, priorities and knowledge globally. With these tools women can virtually gather together to share ideas and strategies, learn from each other, mobilise for action and avocate for their equitable and democratic
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.