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Women Take the ICT Leap: Gaining Entry to Service Sector Employment

video iconWEBCASTINGPhoto Credit:  Grameen Technology Center

Date:  Thursday, April 28, 10:45a.m. – 12:45p.m.


This session showcased unique and emerging cases of how ICTs have helped increase women's economic opportunities. We discussed the importance of public-private sector partnerships through which women have received ICT skills training for business start-up.  Furthermore, we examined the impact ofoffshore outsourcing of information processing work on the quantity and quality of women's employment in the developing world.  This panel focused on cases in theAfrica region and other countries, where rural women have the least access to ICT infrastructure. 

The cases presented include:


  • Female-led multi purpose community telecenters in 20 countries in Africa, initiated by International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
  • The Grameen Village Phone Program is now being replicated in Uganda.  In rural villages where no telecommunications services have previously existed, cellularphones are provided via a sustainable financing mechanism to very poor women who use thephone to operate a business.
  • ICTs, Employment, and Employability:  Recent advances in information and communication technologies, coupled with increasing privatization and the implementation of trade liberalization policies have resulted in the creation of new employment opportunities and shifts within the labor market of specific countries. This presentation briefly explores these shifts and comments on their implications for women and men in developing countries and those in transition.

  • Spryance Inc. provides web-based medical transcription services for doctors and hospitals in the U.S.It has pioneered the home-based franchisee strategy in India, involving many women working from home.



SugataMitra, Chief Scientist, Center for Research in Cognitive Systems, NIIT, India video icon Related video clips produced by IFC 

David Keogh, Deputy Director, Grameen Technology Center, Grameen Foundation USA

Presentation material (PDF 1.18MB)

Savitri Bisnath , Head of the Youth and Gender Unit, ITU
ICTs & Women’s Employability/Employment (PDF 34KB) 

Asenath Mpatwa , Coordinator, Africa Unit, ITU
(through a video link to Geneva)
Presentation material (PDF 50KB)

Ashwin Reddy, Head of Quality Assurance and Rajeshwari, Home-based Medical Transcriber, Spryance Inc., Chennai , India


Bruno Bondet De La Bernardie , Principal Information Officer, Health and Education Unit, IFC

Chair:    Samia Melhem, Senior Operation Officer, infoDev

Cosponsors: Gender and Development Group, WBIHD Education, Global ICT Department, and e-Development Services Thematic Group

The ICT sector in many countries, including developing countries, is contributing to increased employment and economic opportunities for women.  For instance, in the Kerala Technopark in
India , women form nearly 40 % of the computing work force.  ICT allows access to a global market for even a small business with minimum initial investment. ICT, therefore, provides a unique opportunity to promote the growth of women-run small businesses.  On the World Bank side, total funding for the IT component in projects is estimated to be more than $1.0 billion per year[1]; however very little attention has been given to the needs of women in this sector, according to a review of Bank ICT sectoral projects from a gender perspective.

[1]ICT Sector Strategy Paper, World Bank, 2001

Photo Credit:  Grameen Technology Center



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