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Protifolon Issue 2: Digital Bangladesh and Gender Equality

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Welcome to Protifolon, D.Net's new policy briefing series that highlights cutting edge thinking on the emerging issues affecting Bangladesh. This second edition examines plans and programmes for …

Welcome to Protifolon, D.Net's new policy briefing series that highlights cutting edge thinking on the emerging issues affecting Bangladesh. This second edition examines plans and programmes for building a Digital Bangladesh from a gender perspective and in the context of citizenship, education, business and government. It summarises major recommendations for policy makers, ICT for Development activists and women rights activists.

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  • 1. Issue 02 | Volume 01 September 2009Digital Bangladesh and Gender Equality Welcome to Protifolon, D.Nets new policy briefing series that highlights cutting edge thinking on the emerging issues affecting Bangladesh. This second edition examines plans and programmes for building a Digital Bangladesh from a gender perspective and in the context of citizenship, education, business and government. It summarises major recommendations for policy makers, ICT for Development activists and women rights activists. 01Overview flux, with gender assumptions technologies used are not genderThe concept of Digital Bangladesh was changing as a part of broader process sensitive. Creating equal opportunitiescoined during the last national election of economic transition and social and sustainable economic growth forwhen political parties emphasised shifts. Within the context of such women requires improvedICT-based economic and social change, Digital Bangladesh, still in its understanding and awareness of thedevelopment in their election early stages of design, could be used challenges that women face. [5]manifestos. Various analyses reveal as powerful tool to create genderthat the success of the elected party sensitive opportunities in business, Major Issues in thecan be largely attributed to two factors: education, citizenship and conceptualisation ofthe pledge to try war criminals and the government. Digital Bangladeshannouncement of an economicprogramme leading towards Digital ICTs transformative attributes are Digital Bangladesh has variousBangladesh by 2021. The government a valuable resource for women in components but the most significant inis now trying to shape up how Digital developing countries who often suffer this context are:Bangladesh should look and working from limited availability of time, social isolation, and lack of access to Digital Citizenship, Digitalon a national strategy. [8] knowledge and resources. [10] Society Globally, ICTs have enormous "Engendering ICTs" is the process of The digital citizen will havepotential to transform societies. ICTs identifying and removing gender equitable access to information andoffer flexibility of time and space, a way disparities in the access to, and use of, knowledge for improving well being.out of isolation, and access to ICTs, as well as adapting ICTs to the Such improvement should not excludeknowledge resources. Therefore special needs, constraints, and anyone on the basis of gender,Digital Bangladesh, if implemented opportunities of women. [5] residence, age, physical ability,correctly, could have a far reaching The effective inclusion and economic condition, race, or ethnicity.impact to many disadvantaged andvulnerable groups. Equally empowerment of women through ICTs By providing IT skills, training,Bangladesh as a country is in a time of will not occur if the approaches and tools and guidance, we should create
  • 2. opportunities that can change lives, Bangladesh is how to use intensive and coordinated movement transform communities and strengthen E-governance to build political will to is needed to bring together all the local economies. The involvement and stop sexual and economic exploitation players; government, NGOs and engagement of women in the Digital of women and children. [6] private sector on one platform to Bangladesh on an equal footing with ensure broadband internet access. [5] Digital Education men will directly contribute to improving Digital Business the livelihood of people, making it more Digital education is the appropriate Digital business ensures efficient sustainable and thereby promoting the application of tools and technologies transaction and payment – opening social and economic advancement of for equitable access to quality markets and creating opportunity both societies. [11] education content for both teachers nationally and globally. and students. ICTs are used to ensure Although people share the same improvement of governance in In Bangladesh women are grossly geographic boundaries and social education from the bottom to the top. under-represented in ICT-based structures, men and women live in ICTs can play a vital role in supporting occupations. Women have reduced separate realities. [10] In other words, teachers with appropriate skills access to ICT skills, training and closing the information and development. development and participate less in communications divide could be seen science and technology education as a as a means to closing the economic Beyond access, education is key result of social and economic barriers. and social divide between men and to building women’s capabilities and This results in them often missing the women. The most basic gender an important dimension for achieving benefits offered by ICTs. Women are equality issue in ICTs is access, which gender equality and empowerment. At over-represented in part-time is linked to the availability of the a non formal level, ICT carries many employment and in low-paid and necessary infrastructure. In view of opportunities; at a formal level ICT insecure jobs or find they are unable to this, a country-wide ICT infrastructure education is generally concentrated at gain employment at all. Provision of needs to be developed to ensure the tertiary stage. There is an optional fully funded scholarships, culturally access to information by all citizens course on computers in secondary appropriate facilities, female teachers including women. [7] schools, however the curriculum is and substitute schools with Consideration of the flexible schedules, which location, timing and they can fit around their operation of common employment, have all02 access venue like proven effective in telecentres, libraries encouraging the sustained facilities is important in participation of women and order to to make them girls in education. [10] gender sensitive. Technical and Unfortunately digital vocational training can innovation and ICTs can redress the inequalities also negatively impact women experience with society. Sexual respect to skill exploitation of children and inadequacies and ICT women is a grave and employment. It can provide immediate issue for access to resources and Bangladesh. Internet and information on ventures off-line pornography is now such as small-enterprise being produced with Bangladeshi outdated and there is little opportunity development, income-generating women and children. Research for hands-on practice. The lack of local activities, food processing and findings reveal a major portion of both content is also a barrier to increased agriculture, as well as in more personal school going and out-of-school use of ICT in schools. issues such as reproductive children are exposed to pornography Distance education through ICTs healthcare. [13] in the form of poster, picture card and and e-learning provides women with a A nation’s ability to sustain porn CDs. [6] At present there is no great opportunity for learning at all competitiveness while ensuring the consolidated or updated data on how levels but particularly in higher well-being of its citizens hinges on many children are victims of this education. Women can undertake their innovation. Women entrepreneurs not industry but there is little doubt that the studies at convenient times whilst only create jobs but also provide high level of accessibility to continuing with their family different solutions to management, pornography, in part enabled by ICTs, responsibilities. The major challenge organisation and business problems. is making children both consumers and here though is steady and affordable Moreover, supporting women will casualties of pornography. The ongoing challenge for digital accessibility to the Internet . [10] An enable them to improve their incomes,
  • 3. health and food production which will Case Study provide additional benefits to their families and communities overall. [1] Across the world, ICTs have As social attitudes change, morecreated new possibilities of women are able to take advantage ofemployment and helped overcome new opportunities for economic andtraditional barriers for many women social development. At the same timeto enter the formal market economy. ICTs have the potential to enableMore women are taking up new women to become equal stakeholders inopportunities for economic and the growing knowledge economy. [12]social development, withfar-reaching implications for Microfinance allows women to For Digital Bangladesh, it ishousehold, community and market participate in economic activities. important that how much the countryrelations. There are plenty of Despite some limitations it is a victory can be developed throughreasons for optimism about the in the battle to increase the visibility application of new idea and howdevelopment of ICTs and the much people can share among and economic and social mobility ofbenefits that may accrue especially themselves and the government in a women. Improvement in socialfor the poorest and most vulnerable digitalised way. Digital Bangladesh[9] The example of the “Info lady” a attitudes to women’s participation in will make peoples life easier bytechnology based profession, is a economic activity have dramatically communication and that should beconcept developed by D.Net that increased although these unfolding equal for men and women both. Onlychampions the use of ICT for the opportunities have exposed some then Digital Bangladesh caneconomic development in entrenched patriarchal attitudes and empower common mass.Bangladesh. Anyone is able to issues around women’s secure accessbecome an info person, but women to public spaces. And whilst women’s Ms Shirin Akhterare strongly encouraged as it will be Joint General Secretary, JASOD economic participation has expanded, President, BJSJ and Founder President,easier for them to enter homes and Karmojibi Nari female labour productivity and theirbuild relationships with the women For complete interview visit:who reside there. labour cost remains very poor. [3] http://www.bdresearch.org.bd/dbge/interview.htm An info lady possesses a laptop Digital Governmentor classmate computer, Internet Digital government is a form of technical innovation has meant 03modem, headphone, webcam, transparent government which aims to governance policies are somtimesdigital camera, photo printer and a ensure the participation of citizens in formulated neglecting the small andmobile phone giving her access to awhole host of livelihood information decision making processes through simple solutions which can get startedat a fast and cheap rate. D.Net ICTs and, ideally, converts right away with much less of afound that with access to a bundle of government itself into a service challenge in policy innovation terms.[3]services the ladywill become a delivery institution for its citizens. The“telecentre” herself. Help line transparent government upholds Recommendationsservice (experts opinions), human rights for all citizens includingcommercial phone service, Public policy has a defining role to women, poor, marginalised andphotography service, livelihood play in ensuring ICT development indigenous groups. programmes promote gender equityinformation and knowledge service,international and local voice call However, in practice, and create opportunities for women.service, video and animation implementation of digital government The ways to integrate gender andservice, and internet-based ideals has suffered from being poverty concerns need to be exploredinformation service are amongst the through undertaking specific insufficiently grounded in antools provided by an info lady. programmes, which should be also understanding of the governanceThrough analysis it has been found pro-poor. needs of the poor and vulnerablethat the villagers who are Major recommendations of theinterested in the technology and the groups including women. Reliance on research highlighted in this briefing areservices are more likely to better Socioeconomic and political factors presented below for consideration:their livelihoods. By providing these continue to frame the gender digitalservices, some rural women are Deploy public access to ICTs like divide, including social and cultural telecentres to locations whereable to gain employment and the barriers to technology use, women feel comfortable to visitpoor villagers, particularly women, education and skill levels, and at a time which fits womensare able to take advantage of new employment and income trends, work and family commitments;technologies, which are not media and content, privacy andaccessible to them through more Undertake a programme fortraditional delivery models. [4] security, and location/mode of access. [5] women so that women can access
  • 4. ICT-based services at their Undertake effective measures to To ensure the effectiveness of door-step through innovations like barrier in easy access to mainstreaming gender issues, it will be info-lady; pornography by children; [6] important to adopt gender evaluation Identify and promote good methodologies that facilitate the Promote counseling services for practices and lessons learned integration of gender perspectives into adolescent girls and women on about how women and girls are the planning phase and enable the reproductive health through using ICTs; gender analysis of Digital Bangladesh various ICT channels; Promote incentives for girls to programmes. [12] undertake science and technology Take effective measures to education including provision for Whilst various international protect self-esteem and dignity of special scholarships; agencies have already been women which are undermined in Introduce full-payment of off-site supporting partners to develop gender the new media, particularly by training, with child care provided; specific budgets in national representing women as a Introduce bonuses for women who programmes it is equally important that commodity; attend and complete Internet Government makes lump sum budgets training; [2] Develop e-learning facilities so available on gender issues without Create business and employment that women can access to detailing specific allocations. Any opportunities for women as education opportunities through subsequent gender sensitive owners and managers of the power of new media; ICT-based entrepreneurship; budgeting exercises should then be Mainstream gender sensitive ‘owned’ by a wide assortment of civil Undertake measures to protect children from child pornography monitoring and evaluation tools society groups to ensure a diverse through Internet and other media; for programmes and projects. range of needs are represented. [10] Reference 1. Budlender, D. (2001). Review of gender budget initiatives, Community Agency for Social Inquiry; URL: http://www.internationalbudget.org/resources/library/GenderBudget.pdf 2. Centre for Policy Dialogue. (2001). Policy Brief on Information and Communication Technology, CPD Task Force Report URL: http://www.cpd.org.bd/html/Policy%20Brief/sub%20folders/PB01/pubonline.html 3. General Economics Division, Planning Commission, Government of People’s Republic of Bangladesh. (October 30, 2005). Unlocking the Potential National Strategy for Accelerated Poverty04 Reduction; URL: http://www.lcgbangladesh.org/prsp/index.php 4. Hasan, Md. (August, 2009). Info Lady: A rural trouble shooter; URL: http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=99804 5. i4d. (July, 2008). Gender and ICTs, Vol. VL No 7; URL: http://www.i4donline.net/July08/July08.pdf 6. Manusher Jonno Foundation. (2007). Bangladesh’s Alternative UNCRC Report 2007 URL: www.crin.org/docs/Bangladesh_MJF_NGO_Report.pdf 7. Ministry of Science and Information & Communication Technology, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh. (October, 2002). National Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Policy; URL: http://www.sdnbd.org/sdi/issues/IT-computer/itpolicy-bd-2002.htm 8. Raihan, A. (2009). ICT FOR DEVELOPMENT: IMMEDIATE DOABLES, Prepared for CPD Conference on Development with Equity and Justice, Immediate Tasks for the Newly Elected Government; URL: http://cpd.org.bd/downloads/ICT.pdf 9. Tandon, N. (October 2006). Information and Communication Technologies in Bangladesh Trends, Opportunities and Options for Women Worker, Networked Intelligence for Development; URL: www.networkedintelligence.com/ICTs-in-Bangladesh_Trends_Opportunities-and-Future-Options-for-Women-Workers.pdf 10. The World Bank. (2001). Engendering ICT Toolkit; URL:http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/TOPICS/EXTGENDER/EXTICTTOOLKIT/0,,menuPK:542826~pagePK:64168427~piPK:64168435 ~theSitePK:542820,00.html 11. USAID Bangladesh. (2005). Supporting Gender and ICTs: Opportunities for Women in Bangladesh; URL: http://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/PNADH664.pdf 12. USAID. (N.D.) Creating and Sustaining Superior ICT Project Performance Through Gender Sensitivity; URL: http://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/PNADN054.pdf 13. UNITED NATIONS, Division for the Advancement of Women, Department of Economic and Social Affairs. (2005). Women 2000 and beyond, Gender equality and empowerment of women through ICT ;URL: http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/public/w2000-09.05-ict-e.pdf The series is brought to you by Bangladesh Online Research Network (BORN) www.bdresearch.org an information and knowledge intermediation initiative of D.Net. Published under bdresearch programme of D.Net (Development Research Network), 6/8, Humayun Road, Block B, Mohammadpur, Dhaka 1207, Bangladesh. Tel : 880 2 8124976, 9131424, Fax : 880 2 812021, E-mail : info@dnet.org.bd Protifolon has been developed and designed in collaboration with the IDS Knowledge Services. The views expressed in Protifolon do not necessarily reflect those of D.Net or IDS. The publication may be reproduced or distributed for non-commercial purpose in any form or by any means, or stored in a data base or retrieval system. However, proper quotation and reference is mandatory.