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Information and Communication Technology policy imperatives for rural women empowerment: focus on South Africa

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2 Author(s)
Joseph, M.K. ; Fac. of Eng. & the Built Environ, Univ. of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa ; Andrew, T.N.

It has been established that information and communication technologies (ICTs) are key drivers for rural development. However, while many countries such as India and South Africa have made significant investments in rural ICT infrastructure and its developmental spin-offs, rural women are still neglected when it comes to access to ICTs. This neglect is evident in the ICT policy initiatives in South Africa as an example, where the relevant policies lack any significant or direct attention to rural women's development. If ICT policies do not address the gendered digital divide in rural areas gender inequality will be encouraged. This paper gives insights on how information exchange by means of ICTs such as Internet, mobile phones and radio could foster economic growth and empowerment of rural women in South Africa. In addition, the paper discusses the role of relevant stakeholders in ICT policy formulation for more effective and appropriate communication, and innovative ways of using ICTs for women empowerment in rural areas. The authors make recommendations for ICT policy development that would better serve the needs of rural women leading to their empowerment.

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Date of Conference:

23-25 Sept. 2009