“Bridging the Gender Digital Divide: A Report on Gender and Information and Communication Technologies in Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States” was produced by UNIFEM under a project it implemented for UNDP.
Researched and written by Lenka Simerska and Katerina Fialova of the Czech Republic, the report reviews key gender and ICT initiatives implemented by UNDP RBEC Regional Centre and UNDP Country Offices as well as other regional stakeholders. In addition, it maps for the first time the situation of gender and ICTs in the region, pulling together all key information, identifying trends, gaps, as well as some good practices, and offering conclusions, recommendations, and references to resources.
The report examines opportunities and challenges faced by women in relation to the ICT sector, in context of the legacy of communism and the regional and sub-regional diversities and specificities of the CEE/CIS region. Women in this region share many of the challenges experienced by women in other regions, but also some challenges that are specific to this region. These challenges include:
under-representation of women at all levels within ICT initiatives in CEE/CIS and inadequate integration of gender and/or women-specific issues;
CEE/CIS is largely absent in global gender and ICT debates and fora;
gender equality advocates are uninformed of the importance or relevance of ICT development to the gender equality agenda;
unequal access to advanced ICT training that can meaningfully advance women’s equal access and participation in the ICT sector;
exclusion of women from participating in development of online content that responds to their needs and priorities deserves added attention.
Another common challenge is lack of gender indicators or sex disaggregated statistics on ICTs, although it is noted that a recent initiative by the UNECE statistical division to assess the status of ICT and gender statistics has begun to address this gap.
Most countries in the region have developed or are in the process of developing National Action Plans for Information Policies, which guide national ICT development. A gender perspective is largely absent from these plans. At the same time, women’s organisations in the region have generally focused on issues such as domestic violence, trafficking, gender equality legislation, reproductive health etc, and have rarely engaged with ICT issues, thus there has been little pressure on policy makers to take gender into account in relation to ICTs.
The report points out that a critical starting point for achieving gender balance in the ICT sector is tertiary level education. It also highlights the need to encourage older women in particular to use ICTs.
The report recommends a number of actions and measures by UN, governments or donors that would serve to strengthen integration of gender in ICTs in the CEE/CIS region. These include:
Increased support for gender and ICT advocates from the region to advance gender mainstreaming within ICT policies and programmes;
support for stronger involvement of women and women’s organizations from the region in the WSIS process leading to the Tunis Summit in 2005;
further research is needed to determine the status of women in the ICT sector and the gender impact of ICT policy development;
specific measures are to be taken to strengthen gender within ICT projects at various phases, including planning,
implementation, and evaluation;
capacity building for ICT project personnel on gender and its relevance to ICTs is also recommended.
UNIFEM Regional Programme for CEE
UNDP in Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States Regional Bureau for Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (RBEC)
Grosslingova 35, 811 09 Bratislava, Slovakia
Phone: 421 2 5933 7199
Fax: 421 2 5933 7171