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Despite a progressive policy and telecom industry environment, there is a large gender gap in internet access in Rwanda. This study, conducted by Research ICT Africa (RIA) and partners at the University of Rwanda Centre of Gender Studies, combined quantitative and qualitative research to explore what socioeconomic factors inhibit internet access for women in rural and urban settings.
The researchers set out to explore two research questions:
What are the structural, institutional and cultural issues that women and men face that have an impact on internet access and use?
What issues need to be addressed to ensure equitable access and use of the internet?
They adopted a mixed methods approach underpinned by feminist values, using both quantitative and qualitative methods for data collection and analysis. Specifically, their quantitative analyses drew on the gender-disaggregated data from the 2017/2018 After Access survey (of 1,217 samples). This was complemented with six focus group discussions (including urban and rural, male and female, internet users and non users) and a high-level roundtable discussion, to provide a more nuanced understanding of the lived experiences of both those connected to and those currently marginalised from internet services. Localised qualitative research nuances the quantitative findings and provides insights into gender-related power dynamics, which quantitative data alone cannot illuminate.
This research was supported by APC as part of the Feminist Internet Research Network (FIRN), which is funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC).