By APCNews PRAGUE, Czech Republic, 30 August 2004
A research study “Bridging the Gender Digital Divide: A Report on Gender and Information and Communication Technologies in Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CEE/CIS)” produced by UNIFEM in collaboration with UNDP and Lenka Simerska and Katerina Fialova of the APC women’s programme (APC WNSP) reports that women in CEE/CIS share many of the challenges experienced by women in other world regions. But there are also some issues specific to this region that needs to be examined in the context of the legacy of communism and historical and cultural sub-regional diversities.
Many countries in the region are actually in the process of developing national ICT (information and communication technologies) strategies and policies, which guide country ICT development. However, a gender perspective is largely absent from these plans. The relatively young local women’s movement has for a long time been preoccupied with other burning priorities e.g. domestic violence, trafficking in women, reproductive health and rights, and economic injustice. Women’s organizations are rarely engaged with ICT issues. They are generally uninformed about how ICTs and ICT policies can affect their work and gender equality agenda, e.g. women economic and political empowerment. This combined with the scant interest from donors to strengthen gender and ICT agenda in the region, has meant that local policy-makers are under little pressure to take gender into account in relation to ICT, and the invisibility of the CEE/CIS perspective in global gender and ICT debates and fora, such as the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).
The report also reviews key gender and ICT initiatives implemented by UNDP, other UN agencies, the European Union, and other actors in the CEE/CIS region. The review illustrates that although majority of development agencies mandate gender mainstreaming in their policy frameworks and strategy documents, the gender issues fall away in programs’ priorities and implementations. The research has proved that numerous existing ICT initiatives across the region, only few go beyond simply providing women with access to computers and basic training in their use, and lead to women’s advancement in ICTs, and empowerment.
The report contains recommendations and proposes actions for UN agencies, governments and donors in order to strengthen integration of gender in the ICT areas in the CEE/CIS region.
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Lenka Simerska and Katerina Fialova, ‘Bridging the Gender Digital Divide: A Report on Gender and Information and Communication Technologies in Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CEE/CIS)’, UNIFEM & UNDP, 2004