Amy Brooksbank

GG3077: Annotated Bibliography

How ICTs are Helping Bridge Gender Divides in Education and Empowering Women in Sub-Saharan Africa

African Women of Empowerment Project (n.d.) (accessed 13.03.2008)

This project provides an innovative way of using ICTs to empower women and their female children throughout Africa. Rather than creating specific ICT use within communities, the AWEP is producing a number of materials that will provide African women with inspiration. Profiles of 20 empowered women are being documented via photography, film and interviews that will then be reproduced in a variety of formats such as newspapers, TV, and the school’s curriculum. It is hoped that this will encourage women and girls to want to become empowered and improve their lives. It must said, however, that the project does not seem to have considered how to reach those women in more remote areas that in fact may most need the help of inspiration.

APC: Africa –Women (updated September 2007) “Association for Progressive Communication” (accessed 12.02.08)

This initiative was set up to help women access ICTs as a source of empowerment. The network acts as a database to help women access information that would be beneficial to their work and home lives. It also delivers ICT training to advance their skills and make them feel better educated and thus more valued. Forums and support from other women across Africa is available and there is the ability to lobby for issues such as change in gender policy. It is, however, restricted to helping those with access to not only a computer, but also the Internet.

BBC News (Updated June 2003) “Radio Education Helps Somalis” (accessed 15.02.2008)

Somdel and the African Educational Trust set up this radio education project through the BBC. Radios were used in Somali to help people access education that previously did not have the opportunity. Through broadcasts that are pivoted around issues that are important to locals, and women in particular, distance learning is achieved. Successfully, the initiative drew in many people who wanted to have access to this education - 70% of which were women.

Bellew, R and King, E (1993) “Educating Women: Lessons from Experience” in King, E and Mill, M (Eds) Women’s Education in Developing Countries: Barriers, Benefits and Policies. The John Hopkins University Press. Maryland. Pp285-326

Although predominantly focusing on physically gender divided schools and female teachers as a way of increasing female enrolment into education, this chapter also looks at indirect uses of technology in helping increase female enrolment rates. Examples include better technologies in the home that decrease the burden of chores on females, so that surplus time can be spent in education. It was, however, noted that this surplus time is often spent on carrying out other chores rather than attending school.

Brock-Utne, B (1991) “The Schooling Prospects for Tanzanian Female Students in a Situation of Economic Crisis” Alternative Strategies for Africa, Volume 2: Environment and Women. The Institute of African Alternatives. London. Pp 169-173

This chapter looks at the impact of the economic situation in Tanzania and how in the 1990s this impacted upon female access to education. Amidst a period of economic slow down, budget cut backs were made, resulting in parents having to pay for not only uniform, but also stationary and in some cases desks. Brock-Utne recognized that the due the increased cost, parents often choose not to send girls to school as the cost is seen to out weigh the benefits. Although the ICT initiative does not directly effect female enrollment levels the Women, Education and Development (WED) research group uses ICT to monitor enrollment rates and can then use this data to understand reasons behind low female enrollment, and thus come up with possible solutions.

Butcher, N (2003) “Technological Infrastructure and Use of ICT in Education in Africa: An Overview” Working Group on Distance Education and Open Learning (WGDEOL). Association for the Development of Education in Africa

This report provides an insight into the use of ICTs in schools in Sub-Saharan Africa. It focuses mainly on statistical information that lacks the qualitative element, yet also recognizes the limitations of these average numbers. Interestingly, numbers drawn upon are such as the number of radios used in school per 1000 children; Angola: 54, Ghana: 238, South Africa: 316. It is noted that these are average of a nation and thus the extent to which they represent the whole population is low as the statistics are an average. I.e. Most schools have access to no radios and other ICTs. The report also outlines other ICTs used in schools and highlights the potential for a better and more varied education for those involved, yet notes how even if females are in school it is often male pupils that dominate the access to such ICTs.

Chibwana, M and Kadzamira (1999) Partnership for Strategic Resource Planning for Girls’ Education in Africa: Gender and Primary Schooling in Malawi. Institute of Development Studies. Brighton

This research report focuses mainly on the overview of the primary education situation in Malawi in terms of gender. It shifts between constraints and reasons for gender divides, but also provides suggestions for possible solutions such as textbooks, teaching aids and distance training more female teachers. The budgetary constraints are recognised in implementing these initiatives in all schools.

Computers for Africa (updated 2006)

(accessed 20.02.2008)

The CFA has set up a number of Computer clusters in rural schools of Sub-Saharan Africa. Their policy requires 50% of the people who use the clusters to be women as they recognise the need to increase female access to ICTs. The fantastic technology at the schools disposal means that good teachers are attracted in abundance to the school, thus creating a better education. Although successful, the scale at which this could benefit all children and females is questionable.

Cooper, J and Weaver K (2003) Gender and Computers: Understanding the Digital Divide. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. USA

Although focusing on the gender divide with the use of ICTs in developed countries, it brings up many issues that can be looked at in comparison to the gender divide in Sub-Saharan Africa. It highlights solutions to potential restrictions on education within this context.

DFID, IMFUNDO (2006) Improving Access to Education via Satellites in Africa: A Primer. Chimer Design

This report focuses specifically on how ICTs can be used to increase the access of education in Africa (Millennium Development Goal 2) through the use of satellites. As outlined in its contents page, the report comprehensively compiles the positive impacts of the use of technologies such as TV and radio in educating those who cannot reach education on a formal level. References are also made to ways in which these technologies can be used within the classroom to ensure a good quality of education. Despite concentrating on the benefits of such initiatives, the report also recognizes the restrictions of cost and rural access.

Faith, B (updated 18 February 2008) “PAMONet: Mobile Advocacy Toolkit” (accessed 01.02.2008)

An initiative being prepared for Africa by the NGO Tactical Technology Collective. The Mobile Phone Advocacy Toolkit is to be tested in March 2008, so is a new project. The impacts of the initiative are therefore not understood, but the objectives are admirable. The scheme recognizes the power of mobile telephony and wants to use it to help people (particularly women) in developing countries within Africa. The mobiles will enable people to vote, lobby, find out information, write bloggs at a low cost and easy access.

 Freeplay Foundation (n.d.) (accessed 03.02.08)

The Freeplay Foundation distributes (with the help of the Zambian Ministry of Education) distinctive, blue, easy use radios in areas of Zambia. Children in remote areas are targetted as they are the children for which conventional schooling is not always an option.. Females who for whatever reason cannot access schooling can also have access to education via the sound waves. Programs are transmitted regularly and powered by solar panels so the cost to the user is minimal.

 Heward, C and Bunwaree, S (1999) Gender, Education and Development: Beyond Access to Empowerment. Zed Books. London

How access to education can empower women is looked at critically in this book. It uses examples of initiatives from across the globe, focusing on the empowerment of women in a variety of fashions such as culturally and economically. Particularly relevantly to this bibliography, such examples are drawn from Tanzania, Ethiopia, South Africa, and Niger.

 Hilton, E (2000) “What are the main reasons why girls do not go to school? How can ICT be implemented in schools in a way that is helpful to girls? How can ICT help girls and women out of school?” IMFUNDO.

(accessed 13.03.08)

This report provides background information on why girls often do not receive an education and then splits into many different areas, which can sometime be hard to follow and make connections. Hilton recognizes the top-down nature of many ICT initiatives and how they target more privileged schools first. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the lack of teachers, particularly female teachers that act as a role model for girls is stated to be a huge problem, and one that eventually may be overcome by training more teachers through ICT programs. Hilton also describes female access to education through distance learning. For example, INADES is used as a casestudy in Cameroon whereby female workers are trained via radio and correspondence courses.

 Hepburn, A (2001) “Primary Education in Eastern and Southern Africa: Increasing Access for Orphans and Vulnerable Children in AIDS-affected Areas” Duke University. (accessed 18/02/2008)

Although focusing on children with AIDS, Hepburn recognises girls as being one of the most vulnerable groups to such diseases due to low reproductive ages, and the fact that if a family member fall ill, it is the female child most likely to drop out of school to help. Hepburn notes the right to an education, and the way in which an education may in fact help reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS. 11 initiatives to improve access to education are looked at in detail - including restructuring the systems as well as use of ICTs. I.e. Initiative 5: ‘Interactive Radio Education in Zimbabwe. This pilot program currently in operation targets out of school youths in AIDS-affected areas.’ In community centres, 48% of attendants are girls that previously would not have had an education.

 Hoopers, W (2000) “Nonformal Education, Distance Education and the Restructuring of Schooling: Challenges for a New Basic Education Policy” International Review of Education. 46 (1/2): 5-30

This account argues how distance learning is important for those who cannot access formal schooling, such as females. Hooper does, however, pose the question of how far this will eventually effect formal education. The problems in gender education in Africa cannot be overcome by the use of radio for example. To reach those out of school Hooper suggests this can only be done by radical restructuring of the educational system and understanding the ‘different client groups and the precise interactions between schooling and the local environment’.

 Jolly, S and Narayanaswamy, L and Al-Zu’bi, R (2004) “Bridge Development-Gender: Gender and ICTs: Supporting Resources Collection” Institute of Development Studies

This report highlights the use of ‘new’ technologies such as the Internet and ‘old’ technologies such as radio and television to empower women in Sub-Saharan countries who all have the right to be heard, though this is often not the case. Jolly et al recognise the importance of information on Internet sights and other resources having a simple layout and in a language the targeted women can understand. Amongst others, the Isis-Women’s International Cross Cultural Exchange (Isis-WICCE) in Uganda is drawn upon quite heavily. The initiative has ‘documented the experiences of women in situations of armed conflict in ten countries in Africa through its networks.’ By recording experiences and interview by video, this has created mass appeal and accessibility as the information is disseminated on a more meaningful level.

 Mahmoud, F (1991) “African Women and Feminist Schools of Thought” in Alternative Strategies for Africa, Volume 2: Environment and Women. The Institute of African Alternatives. London. Pp 140-147

This chapter draws on themes of equality and the distribution of power between males and females. Mahmoud makes the suggestion that gender can be seen as class due to the way in which ones gender in a developing country affects the way in which life is led. An initiative in Sudan is drawn upon to show how sometimes, despite best intentions, ICT initiatives can often exacerbate the situations they are trying to solve. The initiative in Sudan aims to educate women and provide them with information through pamphlets regarding setting up handicraft businesses at home. It was suggested that as set up through home, this often leaves women in inferior positions, rather than empowering them fully.

 Mbarika et al (2007) “IT Education and Workforce Participation: A New Era for Women in Kenya?” The Information Society. 23: 1-18

With an ever increasing market for IT jobs in developing countries, Mbarika looks into how more traditional roles for women leaves them out of modern jobs. Exponential growth of ICTs means that many Sub-Saharan women now have access to Internet and other ICTs. ‘Interviews with 32 female students enrolled in Strathmore University in Kenya’ were carried out to see how they were embracing IT training to enable them to access jobs they wanted. Unlike many other reports, this report therefore looks at how women are empowered by getting access to better jobs, rather than having access to information about women’s rights. Also recognizes the challenges - such as employers still discriminating against women despite their ICT skills.

 Mijiumbi, R (2002) “The use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) as a Tool to Bridge the Gender Digital Gap; A Case on the Use of a Locally Developed CD ROM by Rural Women in Uganda.” (n.d.) (accessed 12.03.08)

This article gives a comprehensive account of the status of ICT in Uganda. Following this, creative ways of using ICTs in rural areas are looked at with specific attention paid to the positive impacts these initiatives can have on women. A CD ROM was created and made accessible to women to ‘improve their productivity and socio-economic status’ through information such as a step by step guide on how to access micro credit schemes (although these schemes are often out of reach of many women due to the short period of loan repayment etc). The CD ROM has also helped to educate women in reading and IT skills. Part of this process involved not only giving women the access to such ICTs, but also encouraging them to be used – something that is often left out.

 Nalwenga-Sebina, A (1991) “The Viability of Resistance Committees for Women in Uganda” in Alternative Strategies for Africa, Volume 2: Environment and Women. The Institute of African Alternatives. London. Pp 156-163

Looking specifically at the empowerment of women in Uganda through ‘resistant committees’, through which ways of becoming involved in community and household decisions are enforced, this chapter highlights how a previously positive initiative can be enhanced through the use of radios. Radios are used to transmit announcements and thus influence women participation and the empowerment that follows on a greater level.

 “Opening SA’s Digital Gateway” (updated 6 September 2006)

(accessed 12.03.08)

The Digital Doorway Project is an interesting approach to ICT initiatives. Digital terminals are placed in communities that can be accessed by all. They are available 24 hours a day, enabling users to become ‘computer literate and access information’. Although not specifically targeted at females, access to all is possible, although the likelihood of the use of such technology being dominated by males is likely.

 Opoku-Mensah, A (2000) “ ICTs as Tools of Democratisation: African Women Speak Out” in Rathgeber, E and Ofwona-Adera, E (eds) Gender and the Information Revolution in Africa. IDRC. Ottawa. Pp197-214

The chapter starts with changes in politics towards democratization and a civil society in African countries in the 1980s and 1990s. Along with this change, it also highlights the promotion of women’s participation in such processes. For example, in Eritrea, Uganda and Tanzania, policy is to have certain number of members in parliament that have to be women. But where do ICTS come in? It takes a while for the chapter to get to the subject matter suggested in the title, but the background is needed. ICTs could enhance women’s empowerment within a political process. For example, in Zimbabwe, Radio Listening Clubs (of which there are 52) are used so ‘rural Zimbabwean women have been able to articulate their views and opinions on legislative process affecting their well being.’ Opoku-Mensah notes how older women are more dubious to become involved in such ICT initiatives.