Gender research in Africa into ICTs for empowerment (GRACE)
This panel arises from a three-year research project (2005-2008) entitled Gender Research in Africa into ICTs for Empowerment71. The project, which is ongoing into a second phase, was undertaken to find out how and why women use ICTs and how the use (or non-use) affects their lives. This study engages with issues sometimes referred to as the gendered digital divide [6, 7, 5], the recognition that men are participating and benefiting to a greater degree than women in the Information Society . It is recognized that the gender divide is more than a matter of access and use of tools, or designing content. While there is “global agreement that gender equality is essential for building a ‘sustainable, just and developed society’ [WSIS Declaration of Principles 2003]” [9, p. 135], there seems to be a gap in terms of understanding the implications of gender discrimination in relation to the potential benefits to society of the new technologies. This is a problem if societies as a whole are to benefit from ICTs and use them to further their development, if the vision of development pursued is to equitably reflect and fulfill the interests and needs of the population, not only those in positions of power.