Economic and Social Empowerment of Women through Information and Communication Technology: A Case Study of Palestine
This paper presents an insight into an initiative that intends to empower women through Information and Communication Technologies, by means of a joint venture between NGOs and local women organizations. The paper reflects on direct and indirect impacts of the initiative that targeted hundreds of women in Palestinian rural areas. The research team tracked the trainees' responses and the evolution of their capabilities through qualitative and quantitative means such as focus group discussions, interviews with stakeholders, questionnaires, surveys, and observations of on-going activities.
The initiative exerted considerable efforts to enhance ICT technical capabilities of women, develop their entrepreneurial capabilities, and in other ways promote social and economic empowerment. A significant percentage of the surveyed women felt that they gained some level of empowerment and self confidence through mastering the basic ICT competences, and believed that ICT is helpful in improving their livelihood. However, there was little evidence of the transformative potential of ICT that is sought out of such initiatives. The project had some impact on the women’s personalities, on the way they perceive themselves in their families and societies.
However there are vital issues demanding further attention. Key amongst these is improving the ability of women to utilize ICT effectively and in particular for knowledge attainment and creation, in personal and community development, and as a socialization channel.