Information is universally acknowledged to be a lynchpin of sustainable and equitable development. In Africa, however, access to information is limited, and especially so for rural women. The new information and communication technologies (ICTs), centred mostly on the Internet, provide potential to redress this imbalance.
The essays in this book examine the current and potential impact of the ICT explosion in Africa. They focus specifically on gender issues and analyze the extent to which women's needs and preferences are being served. The authors underscore the need for information to be made directly relevant to the needs of rural women, whether in the areas of agriculture, health, microenterprise, or education. They argue that it is not enough for women simply to be passive participants in the development of ICTs in Africa. Women must also be decision-makers and actors in the process of using the new ICTs to accelerate African economic, social, and political development.
Eva M. Rathgeber is IDRC's regional director for Eastern and Southern Africa. Dr Rathgeber has more than 20 years of research experience in Africa. She holds a doctorate in the sociology of education and has written extensively on African development issues including education, science and technology policy, agriculture, and health. Dr Rathgeber established and led IDRC's first gender and development program and has worked closely with gender researchers throughout Africa for many years. Her recent publications include Water Management in Africa and the Middle East: Challenges and Opportunities (coeditor with E. Rached and D.B. Brooks, IDRC 1996).
Edith Ofwona Adera holds a master's degree in agricultural economics from the University of Nairobi. Before joining IDRC, Ms Adera worked for the Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture, planning and evaluating various development projects. She continues this work for IDRC, with a focus on information and communication technologies and community development.