Do digital information and communications technologies increase the voice and influence of women and girls?

Abstract

Part of two-year Learning and Evidence Project on Women’s Voice and Leadership in Decision-Making, this rapid evidence review looks at interventions that aim to build women and girls’ voice and influence through their use of digital information and communication technologies (ICTs). The review asks:

  • What is the evidence on whether women and girls’ use of digital ICTs increases their voice and participation in public life?
  • What is the evidence on whether women and girls’ use of digital ICTs increases their influence over decisions that affect their lives, and in ways that lead to better outcomes for them?

Key findings include:

  • ICTs are a mirror on society. Social, economic and political structures – relating to gender and to class – influence how women and girls access and use digital ICTs.
  • Digital ICTs can be important resources for women and girls’ empowerment, but this depends on which women and which context.
  • Through learning new skills and using digital ICTs, women and girls have been able to build self-confidence, increase their economic power and independence and make better-informed decisions.
  • Digital ICTs can also enable women to communicate with peers online, to exchange information and build solidarity and to lobby decision-makers.
  • But there is only limited evidence that women’s individual or collective voice, enabled by digital ICTs, influences government policy and actions.
  • Women’s access to, and use of, digital ICTs can challenge gender-based power relations. This can provoke a backlash, including in ways that increase women and girls’ insecurity and subordination.
  • The digital divide means that, even if more women use ICTs, gender- and class-based inequalities could still increase overall.

Citation

O’Neil, T.; Cummings, C. Do digital information and communications technologies increase the voice and influence of women and girls? (2015) 33 pp.

Do digital information and communications technologies increase the voice and influence of women and girls?

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