Women empowerment across the globe has not been fully achieved and to this effect women are considered inferior to men. The western world is however closer to achieving women’s empowerment making women at par with men in every sector. The situation in Africa and other parts of the world is however alarming with some place categorizing women as children.
Across countries and time, there is a strong positive correlation between the relative position of women in society and the level of economic development. Based on this correlation, among policy makers the idea has taken hold that there may be a causal link running from female empowerment to development. If this link were to prove real, empowering women would not just be a worthy goal in its own right, but could also serve as a tool to accelerate economic growth.
Indeed, in recent years female empowerment has become a central element of development policy in all sectors. In 2006, the World Bank launched its Gender Action Plan, which was explicitly justified with the effects of female empowerment on economic development. Female empowerment also made its way into the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, again with reference to the claimed effects on development: “putting resources into poor women’s hands while promoting gender equality in the household and society results in large development payoffs. Expanding women’s opportunities accelerates economic growth.”
To the extent that female empowerment means reducing discrimination against women in areas such as access to education and labor markets, the existence of a positive feedback from empowerment to development may be uncontroversial.
Taking the Internet as an example, research has shown that users of Internet in general tend to be male, white, wealthy, educated and young. And this concept is just one example of the gender bias that engulfs the environment surrounding the issues pertinent to information technology.
Among Wall Street’s information technology professionals, men still earn 50 percent more than women. Sciannamea asserts that women are outnumbered by men as information technology consultants by a 4-to-1 margin, in spite of the fact that they share the same types of skills, earnings, and professional goals.
As of 1999, the percentage of technical jobs held by women was a constant 28 percent, even though women constitute almost 50 percent of the workforce. Borg, who is the founding director of the Institute for Women in Technology and a member of the research staff at Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center in California, maintains that companies are very well aware of the growing gender gap in their information technology departments, but are unwilling to address the problem. Although women in the IT industry are few, they have made tremendous and commendable efforts toward the betterment of the sector. So, what about women in Africa?