Whither gender equality and empowerment?
In September – October 2003, i4d produced a special issue on Gender and ICTs. It was also a period when we were beginning to understand the complex dimensions of the gender perspectives, and in doing so have come a long way in comprehending some bits and pieces of the gender divide.
When the various barriers to empowerment and equality begin to get addressed seriously, there is dramatic and visible, measurable changes in the communities especially in societies that have long held patriarchy as the form of social norm.
Social change is linked to action, which involves a conscious gender analysis, coupled with critical reflection. This leads to a lot of hands on learning, by doing projects that effect change, and designing participatory processes. Economic empowerment and education leads to better health, access to resources and a better future society, as mothers often play the multiple roles of home makers and breadwinners, and grooming the next generation of children for the future.
Achieving control is an essential component of women’s empowerment, and ensures that gives women resources and benefits to be shared between men and women equally. Thus it becomes a key aspect of the process. In a very powerful set of resources, the Association of Progressive Communications and Institute of Development Studies, Sussex, have produced valuable learning materials and primers and would aid organisations wanted to monitor and evaluate progress of the Millennium Development Goal 3.
Getting the numbers right is the focus of these goals. There are still communities where being born a girl is a curse. We have tried to paint a canvas of the efforts that are ongoing to address the various dimensions of this issue. There are many stories still to tell, and more agencies that should work towards gender disaggregated data.
We do hope that we can continue to engage in this effort and build capacity of not only ourselves but also a number of civil society organisations on Gender and ICTs in the next few months.