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African Women and ICTs: Investigating Technology, Gender and Empowerment

Ineke Buskens and Anne Webb

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I commend the authors for this valuable initiative. Above all I salute every single African woman, young and old, who is boldly navigating these troubled waters.
— Graça Machel

By providing a deeply researched investigation of the role of African women in the society and in the specific sphere of information technologies, the authors of this study have substantially enriched our understanding of development problems in general and African development in particular. We have reason to be grateful.
— Amartya Sen

Those interested in women’s empowerment and its relationship to technology will find this book a highly innovative approach to the subject, combining a unique perspective with case studies from a wide variety of African countries and settings.
— Nancy Hafkin

A detailed and absorbing account of how African women are using new technology to transform their lives.... This important book celebrates their remarkable achievements, and explores how technology both enriches and complicates African society.
— Margaret Walters

The revolution in information and communication technologies (ICTs) has vast implications for the developing world, but what tangible benefits has it brought when issues of social inclusion and exclusion, particularly in the developing world, remain at large? In addition, the gender digital divide is growing in the developing world, particularly in Africa. So what do ICTs mean to African women?

African Women and ICTs explores the ways in which women in Africa utilize ICTs to facilitate their empowerment; whether through the mobile village phone business, through internet use, or through new career and ICT employment opportunities. Based on the outcome of an extensive research project, this timely book features chapters based on original primary field research undertaken by academics and activists who have investigated situations within their own communities and countries. The discussion includes such issues as the notion of ICTs for empowerment and as agents of change, ICTs in the fight against gender-based violence, and how ICTs could be used to reconceptualize public and private spaces.

The editors

Ineke Buskens is a cultural anthropologist with a passion for research methodology and women’s empowerment and a deep appreciation of cultural diversity and individual human uniqueness. Having graduated in Leiden, the Netherlands, she has lived in Ghana, India, and Brazil, and since 1990 in South Africa. From 1990 to 1995, Ineke was head of the Centre for Research Methodology at South Africa’s Human Sciences Research Council and, in 1996, founded Research for the Future. Ineke now leads the Gender Research into ICTs for Empowerment (GRACE) Networks in Africa and the Middle East (, which involves 28 research teams undertaking research in 18 countries.

Anne Webb is the GRACE Research Coordinator. Her commitment to feminist qualitative research is rooted in participatory action research approaches. Trained in sociology, adult education, and gender studies at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (Toronto) and the Institute of Social Studies (The Hague), Anne’s education has involved people from all walks of life and locations, formally and informally, in Canada, Europe and southern Africa.