Unisa Press

African Women and ICTs

Investigating technology, gender and empowerment

Author: neke Buskens & Anne Webb (editors)
ISBN: 978-1-86888-561-9
Number of pages: 232
Prices: R 150 | $ 15 | £ 12 | € 18

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012 4293515 /3448

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012 4293515 /3448

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About the book

This book questions how women in Africa use ICTs for empowerment. The chapters bring to light the strength and the resilience of the women who spoke with the authors, yet also the slim margin there is for true empowerment within the context in which they live: a context that is defined by pervasive power differentials that are rooted on the one hand in the inherently unequal world-economic monetary system and on the other hand in the inherently unequal gender images and norms that still plague Africa and the world. Even in this context African women are finding ways to access and use ICT tools and spaces to make their lives better and at times even succeed in transforming themselves and their environments. Yet the authors are indeed justified in wondering whether women's efforts can be considered as true empowerment when these efforts confirm existing power differences. Reading the book leaves one wondering how Africa, or even the world, would look if women could grow up and live in the measure of freedom that is needed to freely express themselves and use ICTs to their fullest potential. A gender-sensitive and gender-just use of Information and Communication Technology will contribute to the world of openness, connection, equal opportunities, sharing and prosperity for which Africa and the world at large are waiting. I commend the authors for this valuable initiative. Above all I salute every single African woman, young and old, who is boldly navigating these troubled waters.' - Graça Machel "Starting from the premise that ICTs are tools that can facilitate people's efforts to transform their realities, the authors investigate how and if ICTs contribute to women's empowerment in Africa. The investigation is done using Ineke Buskens' unique contribution to cultural anthropology methodology combining focus, meditation, and non-judgmental observation that includes examination of the subjects' as well as the researchers' values and dreams. Focusing on women's agency as defined by Amartya Sen, the 31 authors, all of whom are highly qualified and experienced researchers from or working in Africa, use Buskens' pioneering emancipatory research methodology to guide their investigations. Chapters run the gamut from cases where ICTs affect women only passively, to where women benefit from women-only spaces, to ICTs transforming their personal and professional life, and to women designing technology and content. Those interested in women's empowerment and its relationship to technology will find this book a highly innovative approach to the subject, combining a unique perspective with case studies from a wide variety of African countries and settings." - Nancy Hafkin "For the advancement of economic development today, nothing is as important as the participation and leadership of women.  Despite the importance of the subject, its value is persistently underestimated, and the psychological and social coordinates of women's participation are also much neglected in the theory and practice of development policy.  By providing a deeply researched investigation of the role of African women in the society and in the specific sphere of information technologies, the authors of this study have substantially enriched our understanding of development problems in general and African development in particular.  We have reason to be grateful." - Amartya Sen

Table of content

ICT tools: access and use Women’s use of information and communication technologies in Mozambique: a tool for empowerment? Considering ICT use when energy access is not secured: a case study from rural South Africa Rural women’s use of cell phones to meet their communication needs: a study from northern Nigeria Egyptian women artisans facing the demands of modern markets: caught between a rock and a hard place Female-only ICT spaces: perceptions and practices When a gender-blind access policy results in discrimination: realities and perceptions of female students at the University of Zimbabwe An alternative public space for women: the potential of ICT Using ICTs to act on hope and commitment: the fight against gender violence in Morocco The names in your address book: are mobile phone networks effective in advocating women’s rights in      Zambia? Using ICTs: making life better? Mobile phones in a time of modernity: the quest for increased self-sufficiency among women fishmongers and fish processors Women entrepreneurs in Nairobi: examining and contextualizing women’s choices Internet use among women entrepreneurs in the textile sector in Douala, Cameroon: self-taught and      independent ICTs as agents of change: a case of grass roots women entrepreneurs in Uganda The mobile payphone business: a vehicle for rural women’s empowerment in Uganda Creating new realities Professional women empowered to succeed in Kenya’s ICT sector Reflections on the mentoring experiences of ICT career women in Nairobi, Kenya: looking in the mirror Our journey to empowerment: the role of ICT


Okwach Abagi, Researchweb Centre, Nairobi Kiss Brian Abraham, Africa Social Forum Council, Zimbabwe Susan Bakesha, Development Alternatives Consult (DAC) Kazanka Comfort, Fantsuam Foundation, Nigeria John Dada, Fantsuam Foundation, Nigeria Polly Gaster, Eduardo Mondlane University Informatics Centre, Mozambique Lucia Ginger, University of St Thomas, Mozambique Leila Hassanin, founder of ArabDev, Egypt Grace Bantebya Kyomuhendo, Makerere University, Uganda Esselina Macome, Mondlane University, Mozambique Gertrudes Macueve, Mondlane University Informatics Centre, Mozambique Judite Mandlate, Mondlane University Informatics Centre, Mozambique Buhle Mbambo-Thata, Library Director, University of South Africa Ruth Meena, Tanzania Gender Networking Programme Elizabeth Mhlambo, University of Zimbabwe Jocelyn Muller, Energy Research Centre, University of Cape Town, South Africa Precious Mwatsiya, University of Zimbabwe Angela Nakafeero, gender activist, Uganda Dorothy Okello, Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) Salome Awuor Omamo, Research Associate, Kenya Mary Rusimbi, Tanzania Gender Networking Programme(TGNP) Ibou Sane, University Sociology Lecturer, Senegal Olive Sifuna, Jomo Kenyatta University Amina Tafnout, Social Development Agency, Morocco Elise Tchinda, Douala University Institute of Technology, Cameroon Aatifa Timjerdine, Committee on Human Rights and Citizenship, Ministry, Morocco Mamadou Balla Traore, Gaston Berger de Saint-Louis University, Senegal Alice Wanjira Munua, Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTANet), Kenya Gisele Yitamben, Association for the Support of Women Entrepreneurs (ASAFE), Cameroon