AllAfrica.com: Technology Eyed to Improve Lives of Women
Liberia’s emphasis on the education of women and girls as a key element to economic development has gained international recognition and attracted assistance from some of the world’s top information technology experts. A delegation led by Princeton University Professor Ann Marie Slaughter which included another seven female technology experts, including representatives from Google and Twitter, travelled to Liberia to “explore how mobile technology can be used to improve the lives of women” under a U.S. State Department program. While Liberia seeks to build its infrastructural capacity in order to engage its population in advanced technology, the delegation focused on how to train women and girls so that they may benefit from the new opportunities.
Under President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia has demonstrated a strong commitment to the advancement of women in both political and economic roles as the country develops. This attracted the U.S. State Department delegation as there is both interest and opportunity for programs focused on women’s education to thrive. The delegation visited teacher training institutes to collaborate on the best ways to use advanced technology to increase literacy. They also focused on how the internet can connect Liberians to job opportunities throughout the country and abroad. Preliminary insight noted the need for greater infrastructure to allow Liberians to take advantage of what the internet has to offer.
In reference to the delegation Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf recognized that “that information and communications technology has transformed the world” and expressed “strong interest in working with Liberia’s market women through technology-based literacy programs to improve their skills and lives.” Sirleaf’s sound commitment to the inclusion of women in both political and economic development policy seems to bode well for new programs focused on women and ICT. However, a lack of technological literacy, especially among women, leaves much to be accomplished.
An article from the United Nations on empowering women through ICTs in Rwanda; http://www.wougnet.org/Documents/UNIFEM/EmpowerRwandaWomen.html
An article from UNESCA on ICT research centers and women in Africa: http://www.uneca.org/aisi/docs/GK3hana/African%20women%20to%20benefit%20from%20ICT%20research%20centre1.pdf
An article on ‘West Africa’s Tech Revolution for Women and Girls’: http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2011-03-09/west-africas-tech-revolution-for-women-and-girls/
1. Do you believe investing in ICT infrastructure will pay off for Liberia? Should the majority of this investment take place before, after, or in accordance with investment in more basic infrastructure (roads, hospitals, etc.)?
2. Why do you think the U.S. State Department delegation and Liberian officials are focusing on training women specifically? Is it good economic development policy?
3. How can advanced technology improve the lives of women in Liberia? Can you think of ways the internet can make a difference in a Liberian woman’s life?