How does Ghana’s e-governance impact the ability for women to be empowered? - by Hannah Pain, 09.09.2022
ICT AND WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT
At the Fourth World Conference on Women in 2000, a significant turning point for the global
agenda for gender equality, it was acknowledged that women should be empowered by
enhancing their skills, knowledge, and access to ICT as this will strengthen their ability to gain
employment, narrow the gender gap and improve accessibility to education and health. Despite
this acknowledgement, women still do not have equal access to ICTs to the same extent as men
in the vast majority of developing countries around the world.
This uneven access to ICT has created a digital divide which parallels gaps in socio- economic
contexts and widens the gender inequality gap. Many of the studies discussing issue this have
often been conducted at the organisational or country level rather than on an induvial level.
Therefore, this blog post is going to explore this challenge in depth by looking at how
Ghana’s e-governance system impacts women’s empowerment, using AFAWI as a case study.
AFAWI’s Livelihood project is an initiative to give women who live below the poverty line a chance to gain a sustainable source of income. This project has been very successful in providing over 150 women with short term loans to expand their businesses, provided over 2000 women with business training and put over 80 of the women beneficiaries’ children into school (AFAWI, May 2022). Even though this project has had great success in empowering women economically, this success could be amplified if rural women had access to ICTs. If the majority of beneficiary women had access to ICTs this would help their business with operational efficiency and improve communication with customers. However, as the majority of the rural women in Ghana do not have sufficient access to ICT this limits their ability to enhance their economic and social opportunities. Additionally, by having access to ICTs, it would allow women to use various online platforms which have the capacity to improve their livelihood through increased engagement and collective dialogue.
ICT strategies and models have the ability to empower women if there is a concerted effort towards designing and enabling policies that create incentives and opportunities for women to participate and profit from the networking process (Arrawaitia and Meel., 2012). This can be facilitated through an efficient e-governance system. Initially the Government of Ghana adopted an e-government in order to transform public service delivery, improve interactions with business and industry and deepen the principle of democracy (Mensah, 2016). Within the adoption and implementation of an e- government in Ghana there was no mention or reference to reducing gender inequality despite ICTs being one of the most powerful tools for reducing the gender gap and enabling empowerment.
The digital divide in Ghana can be attributed to culture challenges, power interruptions, citizen trust issues, security threats and little public knowledge. As many Ghanaian women have very limited access to ICTs, and government resources are needed to finance the bridging of the digital divide it is imperative for grassroot NGOs like AFAWI to exploit the transformative potentials of ICTs to empower women and address developmental needs.
A crucial challenge AFAWI faces is that Ghana is blacklisted from certain online platforms including PayPal and Go Fund Me, two crucial platforms for NGO funding. PayPal was blacklisted in Ghana and many other Western African countries in 2004 due to fraudulent activity. By not having access to PayPal, a commonly used international online transaction platform, this limits funding opportunities for many NGO’s founded in Western Africa. Futhermore, the use of other online platforms including social media, are vital for funding opportunities and can be used as a tool to grant instrumental freedoms of women. Having access to social media platforms enables women to participate in social, economic, and political dialogue and activities. As AFAWI faces several contextual factors including poor internet coverage, fraudulent activity, government censorship and lack of free speech, the organisation cannot fully utilize these platforms as a means to excel in fundraising and empowerment opportunities.
CONCLUSION BY THE AUTHOR
Until Ghana’s e-governance considers gender equality, the digital divide will widen. These findings suggest that a collaborated effort is needed between the Government of Ghana, Ghana’s e- governance, NGOs, and communities to address the persistent gender disparities in regard to access and utilization of ICTs.
Abubakar, N., Dasuki, S.I. and Quaye, A., (2017) The contribution of ICTs to women empowerment: A capability perspective.
Arrawatia, M.A. and Meel, P., (2012) ‘Information and communication technologies & woman empowerment in India’
Awotwi, J.E. and Owusu, G., (2008) ‘Lack of equal access to ICTs by women: An e-governance issue’
Mensah, I.K., (2016) Overview of E-government Adoption and Implementation in Ghana. World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology, International Science Index