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Transforming Our Gendered World Through

Research-Informed Action

 

How do women in Africa and the Middle East use information and communication technologies (ICTs) to improve their lives? What barriers prevent many African and Middle Eastern women from doing so, and how are they surmounting these barriers?

The Gender Research in Africa into ICTs for Empowerment (GRACE) project was initiated in 2005 involving 14 research teams in 12 countries to find answers to questions like these. This stimulated the formation of an African network of gender and ICT researchers. In March 2008 the GRACE project entered a second phase, continuing to involve the network of the research teams in Africa, and introducing the project to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Thirty researchers from 7 countries met in Yemen in December 2008 to initiate their research processes and the Gender ICT Research in the Arab World network. Over time both networks will expand to include many other individuals and organizations throughout Africa and the Middle East. Their work is building a substantial body of research on how African and Arab women access and use ICTs, which will influence policies and interventions to help reduce the obstacles women currently encounter.

The findings emerging from the first research phase have been captured in African Women and ICTs: Investigating Technology, Gender and Empowerment, published by Zed Books. Electronic access to our book is provided by co-publisher International Development Research Centre (IDRC), and distribution in Africa is by the University of South Africa Press (UNISA Press). The book was released in April 2009.

GRACE Africa research teams are located in the countries that appear in deep red. Links from each country will take you to information about the research project and GRACE researchers located there. GRACE research teams in the Middle East and North Africa are located in the countries that appear in blue. They are also linked to the researchers working in those countries. Further information about the research teams and their projects is forthcoming.


 

The following overarching themes that became evident in GRACE 1 are key understandings when exploring what needs to change for women’s situations and lives to become better:

  • That in order for women to use ICTs to make their lives better they need to perceive options and experience space for self-determination.
  • That access to ICTs is an individual experience influenced by socio-cultural norms and political-economic realities and processed through internalized belief systems about the self (in relation to others).
  • That ICT research that aims to contribute to women’s empowerment needs to recognize the global, national and local power structures that limit their economic, political and socio-cultural expansion, and needs to find ways to enhance the emerging new knowledges and new spaces that women create for themselves using ICTs.
  • Women’s access to and use of ICTs cannot be understood in isolation of their gender positions and identities and how these positions and identities interact with their political economic situation.
  • Even women's struggles to overcome the limitations of their positions and identities through the use of ICTs have to be understood from within this context and likewise their victories in overcoming such

 
 

 

Grace is an initiative envisioned and funded by
the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), developed by Research For the Future (RFF) and managed by The GRACE Project Voluntary Association
.
Grace est une initiative initiée et financée parle Centre de recherches pour le développement international (CRDI), développée par Research For the Future,
et gérée par l'Association Volontaire Projet de GRACE .