African Women bridging the digital divide: women’s participation in the Information Communication Technologies (ICT) sector in Botswana
(University of Manchester)
Paper short abstract:
Paper long abstract:
The NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa’s Development) was officially launched in 2001 with the expressed aim of moving Africa towards sustainable development. The aims set out within NEPAD include Bridging the Digital Divide: Investing in ICT, which identifies specific objectives and actions aimed at developing human resources in the ICT industry “… from which Africa can draw trainee ICT engineers, programmers and software developers.” (NEPAD 2001). NEPAD also aims to promote the role of women in society and the economy via education and training.
This paper examines the present situation regarding women’s involvement as ICT Professionals in the ICT sector in Botswana, a NEPAD steering committee member. Through its National ICT Policy (Government of Botswana 2004), Botswana has indicated at state level the intention to develop its ICT capabilities further as part of its development plans and also recognises the importance of addressing gender inequities. Whilst it is recognised that as the use of ICT in developing countries increases, the design & maintenance of fundamental ICT components will become the most valued occupations (ILO cited in Hafkin & Taggart 2001), little research is ongoing in a development context targeting women as shapers of technology as opposed to users. This is therefore an opportune moment in time to investigate how far women are currently involved in the ICT professions, and what policies are in place to ensure their active participation.
This paper argues that if we wish to ensure greater gender-equal participation as the industry develops, we need to actively promote measures that address some of the barriers African women feel they face.
ICTs and development in Africa