Gender sensitive E-Government

Linked to my post on Gender, ICT and Peacebuilding, came across this interesting article today on the importance of gender sensitive approach to e-government initiatives. The author, Eva M. Rathgeber, Joint Chair of Women’s Studies, University of Ottawa/ Carleton University, writes about the necessity of recognising women and men having different patterns of using computers and internet and the importance of national governments employing gender analysis when launching eGovernment initiatives and states at the end of her article:

A strong enabling environment must be put into place to ensure that girls and women become full participants in e-government activities. This must cover all aspects of policy, training and accessibility. Gender analysis must be undertaken at the design stage of e-government programs because the directions in which the services will move, will definitely be effected by the inclusion of gender concerns. However the inclusion of women and girls in e-government is likely to occur only if at least some of the following factors are in place:

  • a strong commitment by national government to e-government services are designed in such a way as to be available to all citizens;
  • telecommunications policy frameworks that ensure that the needs of girls and women are part of the national structure;
    ICT training for girls and women;
  • affordable connectivity and safe, convenient centers where women can use computers (telecenters, post offices, community centers, etc.);
  • clearly designed content in local languages; and
  • feedback mechanisms that allow women and girls to have input into e-government

On a more general note, she also makes a powerful observation here:

In some developing countries, interactive e-government sites are becoming common. For example, in India citizens can access passport applications, registration procedures, school examination results, trade guidelines, telemedicine, customs information and land records among other services. However, as a general rule in the developing world, e-government projects tend to be based in single departments or ministries and to be supported by donor funds. Even in cases where civil servants have access to computers, they do not necessarily have the skills to use them effectively. Early experience shows that effective e-governance initiatives must be part of an overall strategic plan, which is often difficult to implement with donor funding.

This article is well worth reading.

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