Earphones Are Not for Women: Gendered ICT Use Among Youths in Ethiopia and Malawi

Marije Geldof


New information and communication technologies (ICTs) are changing the lives of individuals and communities around the world. Women are facing more challenges in accessing and using, and therefore, in benefiting from these new ICTs than men are, particularly in Africa. This article examines the complex relationship between gender and ICTs from the perspective of low-literate youth in Ethiopia and Malawi, based on a wider inquiry into the role of ICTs in their lives. It first discusses the constraints that women experience in accessing and using ICTs, such as domestic responsibilities, time, mobility, and sociocultural norms. Subsequently, the article explores the gender disparity resulting from these constraints in terms of knowledge about, use of, and ownership of ICTs, as well as differences in the way men and women use ICTs. In doing so, the article argues that gendering in daily life shapes the gendering of ICT use, and therefore, that the gender digital divide is fundamentally socially constructed by a complex web of interrelated factors, making it difficult to tease out which factor is responsible for what effect.


ICT4D, gender, Africa, gender digital divide

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