In Summary
  • One way to improve the uptake of ICT by women is to provide research output that measures the ICT gender gap
  • Even if people have access and can afford to get online, they would not bother in the absence of relevant content
  • Women are impacted much more negatively given their historical, socio-cultural disadvantages in society.

The United Nations will mark this year's International Women's Day  on March 8, 2017. Women are marginalised in all spheres of life including, but not limited to, politics, business, education, culture and most recently, ICTs.

One way to improve the uptake of ICT by women is to provide research output that measures the ICT gender gap in order to identify challenges and provide targeted interventions.

It is within this context that the International Association of Women in Radio & Television, (IAWRT) launched the Women’s Rights Online 2016 Kenya Report at a workshop in Nairobi.

Dr Kate Getao, the ICT Secretary in the Office of the President, who also holds the distinction of being the first female Computer Science PhD holder in Kenya, opened the workshop last week.

She went through the 2016 Kenya report which was published after a comprehensive study done last year in Kenya and five other African countries. It highlighted the ICT gender gap along five thematic areas:

Internet access for Women: The study looked at the existence or lack of ICT gender equity targets within national ICT policy documents and measured the percentage of women with internet access and women empowerment through the web.

"Women empowerment" measured the percentage of women who have used the internet to look for general information, specific information, like work, or expressed themselves through posting comments online. Kenya scored a paltry 2 out of 10, implying that we do have a very large scope for improvement in this thematic area.

Affordability: This measure looked at the monthly price of 1GB of mobile internet data as a proportion of the average monthly incomes. In addition, the study looked for existence of policies that promoted free or low-cost internet access through public libraries, schools or community centres.

Kenya got a fair score of 5 out of 10, perhaps due to its sustained focus on increasing use of and extending ICT services in government.  However, women's incomes are often lower than men's, meanings they would find it harder to afford ICT services

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