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Women’s income generation through mobile internet: a study of focus group data from Ghana, Kenya, and Uganda

Bailur, Savita and Masiero, Silvia (2017) Women’s income generation through mobile internet: a study of focus group data from Ghana, Kenya, and Uganda. Gender, Technology and Development, 21 (1-2). pp. 77-98. ISSN 0971-8524

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Identification Number: 10.1080/09718524.2017.1385312


For many women in resource-constrained environments, mobile phones are the first and foremost information and communication technology (ICT) used. In theory, the increasing pervasiveness of mobiles and mobile Internet across developing countries should provide growing opportunities to women, especially in terms of earning through small, on-the-fly jobs, using the very mobility aspect of the devices. Using Donner’s six affordances of mobile Internet and Cornwall’s discussion of what women’s empowerment means, we analyze data from 30 focus groups conducted with 18 to 25-year-olds earning under $2 a day in peri-urban areas of Nairobi, Kenya, Accra, Ghana and Jinja, Uganda). We explore the relation between the affordances of mobile Internet and structural changes in the economic and societal status of subjects, as reflected in the narratives of women adopters. We find that such affordances, while leading to new mechanisms for income generation, at least in our focus groups, do not result in changes of societal structures: older cultural stereotypes are built around adoption of the new technology, and policies underlying economic activities are hardly challenged by digitalization. This problematizes the extent to which the mobile Internet can be universally conceived as a tool for income generation, and by extension as a long-term, secure means for the empowerment of many women.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2017 Asian Institute of Technology
Divisions: Media and Communications
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
T Technology > T Technology (General)
Date Deposited: 01 Aug 2018 09:07
Last Modified: 18 Jul 2024 20:21

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