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Nowadays internet is part of almost any serious discussion focussing on global development. Women play a vital role in this development. Being a women myself, I have experienced the benefits that access and capability to use the internet for more than just typing an e-mail to friends, has had on my development, growth and networking capabilities. I see the same with many of my female colleagues; there is an easier break through barriers of information and education. And then I am speaking about women with a relatively good educational background and living in urban locations. Just imagine what this could mean for women who for some reason could not leave their houses or were living in remote areas. Women, who just like us from the cities, would like to have a business, better healthcare and improved access to education for themselves and their children, especially their daughters.

I do not want to discuss all the challenges in bringing internet access to the remote communities, but only want to emphasize the importance of this for whole communities, especially the women.
Women often experience more challenges in acquiring the development they need, their responsibilties in the household and for their families as well as many holding jobs outside the home, require more time of them, than there are hours in a day. Often their accomplishments are not noticed by anyone for their lack of access to those who can assist them in highlighting their achievements. In many cultures women are hampered by cultural opinions on venturing outside on their own.

Internationally there has been a call for increased participation of women, realizing that without the full involvement of women, satisfactory development and government can not be achieved. Just this month again in the UN the 50/50 campaign was mentioned again. Nationally, governments are aiming to improve services through e-government.

I believe that this goal of 50/50 will not be achieved unless we give priority to providing women access to the internet as well as the tools and capabilities to use it to the fullest. I find that often women shy away from the full use of the internet because they are under the impression that this would require them to learn a lot of technical mumbo jumbo and they feel they are not up to the task. Also in many countries internet use is still very expensive and not available in many household, especially in the developing world.

If we are serious about empowering women to take their rightful place in the world and benefit from all the opportunites internet provides, we have to make it our mission to take away the barriers inhibiting their participation. We have to explain internet use in normal daily language, we have to improve not only access to the internet but also the affordability. Women are in most cases taking care of more people than just themselves and so it is important to realize that their participation is crucial to the success of all the great plans by national and international organisations for further development through the use of IT.

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Comment by Angelic Alihusain-del Castilho on October 17, 2011 at 3:43pm
Dear Grace,
That is a very valid and important issue you are mentioning. It is crucial that we find or develop a practical, working model for this category of women. Maybe there is someone who has already faced a similar issue and can share their experiences with us.
Comment by Grace Githaiga on October 17, 2011 at 3:26pm
Great article. I have also found out in my interraction with young women in Mathare informal (urban)settlement in Kenya, that the need to fulfil basic needs of women supersedes their desire to engage with the internet. How then does the internet help them meet basic needs? Is there a model out there that can be adopted for such women?



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