African Women and ICTS: Investigating Technology, Gender and Empowerment.

12 02 2010

Prof. Grace Bantebya, Hon. Alintuma NSambu (Minister of State for ICT - Uganda), Susan Bakesha and Prof. Lillian Ekirikubinza (Deputy Vice Chancellor - Makerere University)

I took the pleasure to attend the GRACE book launch yesterday afternoon.

The Gender Research in Africa into ICTS for Empowerment book comprises of 17 Chapters divided into 4 main parts.

  1. ICT tools: Access and Use
  2. Female only ICT spaces: Perception and Practices
  3. Using ICTs: Making life better
  4. Creating new realities

The books also features authors from different countries across Africa (Egypt, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Nigeria, Uganda)

“I was inspired by women who work as payphone vendors in Hoima District”, Prof. Grace Bantebya one of the authors narrated the experiences of these women in the use of ICTs to generate income. There are many success stories of these women where they have been used ICTs to improve their incomes and livelihoods. However, she also noted that there are gender issues involved in the use of ICTs. For example cases of failed marriages because men tend to feel insecure when the woman is earning more in the family.

The book brings to light the strength and resilience of the women who spoke to the authors.

“ICTs are definitely a vehicle of empowerment but it also depends on the situation.”

The book also covers sections that have not been covered before e.g. the intersection of ICT and Violence against Women Prof. Grace Bantebya said at the book launch. It also answers questions like the role of ICTs in promoting the empowerment of women and women groups in Africa.

The book was launched by the Minister of State for ICT – Hon. Alintuma Nsambu. In his speech, the minister commended

Minister of State for ICT launches the book titled "African Women and ICTs"

women advocates, the authors and non-profit organizations for their work on use of ICTS to empower the African woman. He bought ten (10) copies of the book which he will donate to a small telecentre located in Masaka district to enable rural women access the information in this book. He also gave 5 computers to the Department of Gender – Makerere University as a contribution to continue the effort of empowering women through the use of ICTs.

Download a free copy of African Women and ICTs from the IDRC website under the Books section.

Quotes from the book:

“My husband knows the value of my phone business and does not complain about my prolonged absence from home and exposure to the public. This alone gives me inner strength and confidence, and resilience to continue with such work despite my Islamic faith, which does not condone such work, especially for married women. The fact that I am working against such odds makes me feel empowered.”

I commend the authors for this valuable initiative. Above all I salute every single African woman, young and old, who is boldly navigating these troubled waters.
— Graça Machel

By providing a deeply researched investigation of the role of African women in the society and in the specific sphere of information technologies, the authors of this study have substantially enriched our understanding of development problems in general and African development in particular. We have reason to be grateful.
— Amartya Sen

Those interested in women’s empowerment and its relationship to technology will find this book a highly innovative approach to the subject, combining a unique perspective with case studies from a wide variety of African countries and settings.
— Nancy Hafkin

A detailed and absorbing account of how African women are using new technology to transform their lives…. This important book celebrates their remarkable achievements, and explores how technology both enriches and complicates African society.
— Margaret Walters