Economic and Social Empowerment of Women Through ICT: A Case Study of Palestine
AbstractThis paper presents an insight into an initiative that intends to empower women through Information and Communication Technologies. It describes the implementation and fallouts of a practical training initiative where NGOs and local women organizations cooperate jointly to develop, upgrade and enhance women' qualifications and perception in ICT with the aim of improving their lives in economic and social context. The paper reflects on direct and indirect impacts of the initiative that targeted hundreds of women in the Palestinian rural regions. The research team traced the trainees' reactions and behaviors through qualitative and quantitative tools such as focus group meetings, interviews with stakeholders, questionnaires, surveys, and observations of on-going activities. The initiative exerted considerable efforts to endorse social and economic empowerment and develop entrepreneurial capabilities among women attendees. Significant percentage of the surveyed women felt that they gained some level of empowerment and confidence through mastering the basic ICT competences, and believed that ICT is helpful in improving their livelihood. However, there were few solid evidences of the transformative potential of ICT that is sought out of such initiatives. ICT has some impact on women personalities, on the way they perceive themselves in their families and societies. However, to attain full benefits of ICT, the initiative make-up should be reengineered. A shift in training paradigm should occur towards employing these powerful tools towards empowerment in economic, social and community development prospects, which will at the end leverage women to active players in their own lives.
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