The digital divide is a major threat to use ICT appropriately for development issues. Especially, the gender divide is still a huge issue when it comes to ICT use and excludes women widely from the participation in the digital sphere.
A recent rule of a rural muslim panchayat might seem unbelievable from a the perspective of the Global North. Women should not own mobile phones to prevent violence against women in these rural areas. According to these rural male leaders, mobile phones, next to t-shirts and jeans, are the “root of all evil”. This shows that access to ICT is not given across in India and goes beyond economic issues, especially for women. Women often face (human-) rights based issues and violations, as they are oppressed in the patriarchal society of India. India is a society where women belong, across all castes and social classes, to the most marginalized women in the world. It is a men dominated society and while searching for appropriate technology or ICT for development, one needs to keep this in mind.
The patriarchal culture, in the Indian context, is a polariser of ICT access and there is not a “one size fits all approach” in this multi-ethnic and multi-religious nation, where the divide between men and women is arguably the biggest on earth.
What can ICT4D do in this context?
If women have access to ICTs, technology can be used as a tool for women to tell their story, like the example of participatory photography or video shows. The participative forms of communication can help to counter narratives, which are mostly dictated by men in the society of India and in South Asia in general.