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ICTs have key role to play in gender equality - survey

Information communication technologies (ICTs) can help women in reducing the digital divide, according to the results of international survey on the issue. The respondents were women from Europe, Africa, Latin America, North America and Asia Pacific. There were variations b...

Information communication technologies (ICTs) can help women in reducing the digital divide, according to the results of international survey on the issue. The respondents were women from Europe, Africa, Latin America, North America and Asia Pacific. There were variations between the regions on the use of the Internet, with women averaging around 42 per cent of the global Internet community, but with a range from 50 per cent in North America to just 30 per cent in countries such as Morocco, Turkey and India. Asked what would be important to bridge the digital divide, most women identified the need to have access to ICTs as the most important factor. The second most important factor in all regions was 'literacy levels'. Respondents who worked in the government and private sector felt that literacy levels were the most important factor, but those who responded from the non-government felt that ICT availability was more important. Some of the other main benefits of ICTs, according to the results, are that they give the opportunity to share experiences, give increased opportunities for cooperation, and provide personal empowerment and community economic development. Women entrepreneurs highlighted the fact that ICTs give improved information sources. The results and the clarity they give to the issue were welcomed by Yoshio Utsumi, Secretary-general of the International telecommunications union, which conducted the survey. 'It gives a voice to people who have been isolated, invisible and silent and lets them speak out regardless of their gender and where they live.' The information gathered from the survey will be supplied to the World summit on the information society, which will be held under the auspices of the United Nations, in Geneva, Switzerland in December 2003.