Call to include women in the information society

22nd October 2004 By: Deborah Spicer

An estimated 60% of Africa’s population is female, but only 2% of Internet users in Africa are women, is one of the messages that will be highlighted at Women and ICT, a conference due to take place in Arusha, Tanzania, this week. This is one of the numerous disparities facing African women today, leaving them marginalised as the world moves into the information age, it will be noted.

Some of the factors contributing to this disparity are the level of illiteracy, poverty and bad policies.

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are seen by many as appropriate tools to combat poverty and achieve sustainable development in Africa. However, this requires political commitment as well as effective actions on the ground – actions that provide opportunities for poor people, actions that will achieve the goal of digital inclusion, enabling universal, sustainable, ubiquitous and affordable access to ICTs by all.

The meeting is expected to draw participation from government, civil society, development agencies and the private sector. For the information society to be realised, deliberate efforts have to be made to include women in the process – not just as spectators but also as active participants. The themes that will be discussed at the meeting include policy and governance; applications, access and technology; networking, knowledge sharing and education research and development.