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© A.K Moe, Myanmar

In developing countries, women face many cultural and logistical barriers in the use of information and communication technologies (ICT), as this is often more readily accessible to men. How can we bridge this digital divide? Can ICTs be used to address gender issues? 

Women tend to be 'late adopters' of ICT, meaning that they often take longer to take-up and use new technologies than men.

And, women mostly use the internet as 'consumers', functioning as users, but rarely as providers or active participants.

These differences in the use of ICT may be linked to the perception that fields such as engineering and computer science are part of the "male" domain in many societies. This is reinforced by gender stereotyping in the media, poor career advice in schools, and lack of career structures within ICT research and development to support women in pregnancy and childcare.

Access, as well as ability, is therefore an important part of technology training programmes targeting women.

Some initiatives

ICTs have proven to be a means of overcoming gender disparities in society. Their potential for education and spreading information is evident through the internet and audio-visual industries. 

Gender and ICTs for Development presents a collection of case studies illustrating how women and their communities have been influenced by ICTs. The five studies show how ICTs can have profound implications for women and men in terms of employment, education, health, environmental sustainability and community development. These include e-commerce in Bhutan, entrepreneurship by women workers in China, post-war communication using radio and ICTs in Sierra Leone, sustainable fisheries production in Ghana, and information exchange related to HIV & AIDS in the Caribbean.

The Commonwealth Of Learning (COL) and its network are working to address gender barriers encountered by women in the use of ICTs for education and training, especially with regard to open and distance learning. From 1998 to 2001, COL convened four regional expert group meetings to identify barriers in ICTs in education based on gender differences. 

Equal Access is an international not-for-profit organization that creates positive change for large numbers of people in the developing world by providing information and education through targeted content, cost-effective technology and community engagement. It addresses issues such as basic education, teacher training, women’s empowerment, human rights, HIV & AIDS prevention, health education, governance, livelihoods training and landmine awareness. By designing and producing compelling local language audio and multi-media programs in-country, Equal Access aims to educate and catalyze behaviour change in target audiences. 

Useful links

UNESCO Bangkok ICT in Education Website

UNESCO Headquarters resources on ICT and Gender

The Gender and Science Digital Library




File Type

How to Make Science More Friendly, Particularly to Girls, within the Framework of STL

August 2002

UNICEF India/UNESCO New Delhi/Delhi University

Zip File

Girls' Issues

September 2000


PDF and Word

Barriers to ICTs in Education Based on Gender Differences' Regional Expert Meeting Report

November 1998

The Commonwealth of Learning