Gender, Mobile, and Mobile Internet| Gender, Mobile, and Development: The Theory and Practice of Empowerment — Introduction
This introduction to the Special Section sets out the rationale for our focus on gender, mobile, and mobile Internet. We explain our aims in planning a dedicated section and introduce each of the four selected articles across different country contexts. We examine how these articles juxtapose the theory and practice of empowerment. Finally, we raise issues with the way that empowerment is used and applied in ICTD work and we draw on Cornwall’s framework to support our view that access for women (an often-used variable) is not always accompanied by changes in law, policy, or men’s and women’s consciousness or practices; therefore, access does not de facto lead to empowerment. It is this space that we believe needs further exploration. A focus on access and digital literacy for women, while important, is not in itself a sufficiently meaningful criterion for empowerment through mobiles and mobile Internet.