Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) continue to be a driving force in today’s economic, social and political development of societies around the world. Yet studies in ICT and their impact on the Arab States remain scarce. UNIFEM Arab States Regional Office integrated the theme of ICTs in its Economic Security Program in the year 2000, and since then the program has been dedicated to implementing ICT projects that aim to provide economic empowerment opportunities for women. Additionally, UNIFEM Arab States has been committed to providing data regarding the status of women in the ICT space as a whole.
What began as a small study to gauge the position of women in Jordan’s ICT sector, led to the implementation of a pilot initiative called “Achieving E-Quality in the ICT Sector” with Cisco Systems Inc. Achieving E-Quality worked towards empowering women in the ICT sector through building their capacities and professional skills, ensuring equal opportunities with respect to the job market, raising awareness and securing a positive policy environment.
As part of the initiative UNIFEM published a baseline ICT research entitled “Jordanian Women in the ICT Space” in the year 2002. The research was the first of its kind, in that it evaluated the status of the ICT sector in Jordan by examining the gender dimension as an analytical method, one that is vital for a comprehensive understanding of the different components and trends that make up and affect the sector.
As Achieving E-Quality in the ICT Sector initiative was extended to its second phase, it was replicated in Lebanon and Morocco in the year 2003. “Achieving E-Quality in the ICT Sector, Lebanon” aimed to build the technical and soft skills of women, link them to the job market and create a positive policy environment. As part of the initiative, and to properly and positively influence policies related to the ICT market, “The Status of Lebanese Women in the ICT Space” market research was conducted. The study is the first to be conducted in Lebanon and therefore provides an information base on the status of Lebanese women in the ICT space, while analyzing the aspects of the ICT space relevant to empowering women and bridging the gender digital divide.
“The Status of Lebanese Women in the ICT Space” examines the current status of the ICT space, sheds light on the status of women within the ICT space, analyzes and presents current and future threats and opportunities in the ICT space and provides an overview of ICT development initiatives in Lebanon.
The study found the ICT sector in Lebanon to have several competitive advantages, including: the availability of local technical and entrepreneurial skills, cultural diversity and openness, and a strong interest in technological innovations. The study also found that women’s access to ICT is constrained by different gender discrimination and factors such as higher illiteracy levels, lower educational attainment, and lower access to training opportunities as well as cultural restrictions on mobility.
“The Status of Lebanese Women in the ICT Space” study has provided Lebanon and the ICT community with indicators as to the current status of Lebanon’s ICT sector. UNIFEM would like to thank the research team at Market Opportunities for conducting the study.
We hope these findings are used to further develop Lebanon’s ICT sector by encouraging full and equal participation of women in the sector.
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