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From Access to Effective Use: A Suggested Model for Ensuring Disadvantaged Arab Women ’ s Engagement with ICTs Ra’ida Al-Zu’bi, Information and Networking.

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Presentation on theme: "From Access to Effective Use: A Suggested Model for Ensuring Disadvantaged Arab Women ’ s Engagement with ICTs Ra’ida Al-Zu’bi, Information and Networking."— Presentation transcript:

1 From Access to Effective Use: A Suggested Model for Ensuring Disadvantaged Arab Women ’ s Engagement with ICTs Ra’ida Al-Zu’bi, Information and Networking Coordinator BRIDGE Development-Gender, Institute of Development Studies, Sussex University, UK Regional Symposium on Women and ICTs (Cairo, Egypt, 17–19 December 2003)

2 Arab Digital Divide “ Staggering ” WIDE Arab Digital Divide translates into evenWIDER Gender Digital Divide Why? Because of the 7 Challenges or 7Cs! These negatively impact disadvantaged Arab women and men’s access to and effective use of ICTs

3 What are the 7Cs? 1. Cost 2. Capacity 3. Content 4. Creativity 5. Culture 6. Conflict 7. Censorship

4 7Cs Pose Difficult Questions: 1. Are we creating more of a technical Access push/supply than a pull/demand ? 2. Are we bridging the digital gap or creating a digital "wadi" (canyon)? 3. Are we diverting vital resources from basic services (e.g. health and education), while not effectively equipping poor women and men with the needed tools to benefit from ICTs? 4. Are we helping to create a class of techno-elite: educated, urban, wealthy Arab women or men with market purchasing power, adding yet another layer of marginalization? 5. Given the rapid diffusion of and change in ICTs, will disadvantaged Arab women and men ever be able to overcome these challenges and join the “ networked world ” ?

5 From Access to Effective Use Reply to first 4 questions depends on the answer to the 5th, which is: YES we can overcome these challenges. How? By shifting focus from providing -technical – Access to infrastructure/hardware (e.g. telecenters) to ensuring “ Effective Use ” of ICTs.

6 What is Wrong with Access? Access is crucial and fundamental to development and use of ICTs, but there is excessive focus on technical Access - 1) What are we providing access for? 2) For whom are we providing access? 3) To what are we providing access. - At present, access may only benefit the private corporate sector and the “techno-elite”. - Disadvantaged Arab women and men are usually unable to benefit from access fast enough, becoming even further marginalized. - Technical Access may be unsustainable in the long run due to the exponential growth in wireless technology and its convergence with mobiles and other handheld devices.

7 What is the Alternative? Effective Use - An approach drawn from community informatics theory. - Defined as the capacity and opportunity to successfully integrate ICTs into the accomplishment of self or collaboratively identified goals. (M. Gurstein, 2003) - Asks how? by whom? under what circumstances? and for what purposes can ICTs be effectively and actively used to benefit disadvantaged individuals and communities

8 The Effective Use Rainbow has 6 layers 1. Carriage facilities: What telecommunications service infrastructure is most appropriate? 2. Input/output devices: Which devices do users need to undertake the particular activity? 3. Tools and supports: What software, physical supports, protocols, and service supports are required? 4. Content services: What specifically designed content is needed for the particular application areas? 5. Service access/provision: What type of social and organizational infrastructure, links to local social networks, and training facilities are necessary for the particular use being developed? 6. Social facilitation: What local regional authorities/resources, community and environmental infrastructure are required to locally enable the desired application or use?

9 Effective Use needs Active Participation - Need to utilize participatory action research methods at all stages with the full involvement and active participation of the end users and the local community. - Need participation of local facilitators/intermediaries (e.g. NGOs, youth, community leaders) that act as links between disadvantaged women and ICTs.

10 Are ICTs Worth all this Effort?…YES! With effective use ICTs can: - Allow the unheard voices and images of marginalized women and men to reach decision-makers and politicians, improving their bargaining power and increasing their influence on decisions that affect their lives. - Enable these women and men to take advantages of the life-improving opportunities offered by e-commerce. - Allow them better access to basic services such as telemedicine, on-line and distance education, e-governance and e-commerce.

11 1. Kothmale Internet Community Radio Project-Sri Lanka 2. Jiva's Teledoc Project : Quality Healthcare via Mobiles for Rural Villages- India 3. CD on Ideas for Earning Money for Illiterate Rural Women- Uganda 4. Virtual Souk Website - (Several Arab Countries) Effective Use Case Studies

12 Sources: - Main source: “Effective use: A community informatics strategy beyond the Digital Divide” by Michael Gurstein, First Monday, The Effective Use Rainbow is adapted from the “Access Rainbow” Source: Clement and Shade, cited by M. Gurstein" - “A Review of ICT Initiatives that Focus on Disadvantaged Women in South Asia”, draft by Anita Gurumurthy, UNFEM, ”مجتمع المعلومات في غربي آسيا“، أسكوا، “Digital Divide in Arab World 'Staggering‘” by Greg LaMotte, VOA, Cairo, AHDRs, UNDP, 2002 and “Overview of Internet in Arab States”, Abdulilah Dewachi, 2001, ESCWA.


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