Access & Gender

There are different dimensions to access-related issues, and there are significant points of connection between them. Open access networks have been identified by APC as being made up of three layers – physical (infrastructure), logical (platforms, e.g. Free/Libre & Open Source Software) and content (knowledge and information).


All three levels (and perhaps more?) will have to be realised in order for access to be meaningful. For this issue, we were intending to focus on national and regional policies on the physical - i.e. infrastructure - layer.


However, this proved challenging, as little information that specifically examines this issue from feminist perspectives is currently available. Further, many other elements needed to be addressed before the gender dimensions of infrastructure became evident.


Factors such as gender disparity at the level of employment, education, social class, literacy, geographical location and decision making have great impact on the level of women’s access to ICTs. Gender is a cross-cutting issue with specificities that are often hidden.


For example, even if the government implements a policy programme of one cyber café per district, it doesn’t automatically mean that access is available for all equally. Do women have access to employment opportunities (beyond ICTs) to be able to afford the price? What kinds of roles are women expected to perform in that specific area? Do they have multiple burdens that take up most of their time, making visits impossible? How are computers usually arranged, and what does this mean for women’s access? What, in fact, are the strategic and real needs of women when it comes to meaningful access to ICTs?


In this edition, GenderIT.org writers examines the question of access for women from various perspectives in Uganda, the ‘Arab region, Ghana and Uruguay.


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