An Empirical Study of Information and Communication Technology for Empowerment of Rural Women in Ghana

O. Adwoa Tiwaah Frimpong Kwapong

Abstract

There is a relationship between ICTs and empowerment of rural women. ICTs are applicable to all sectors of development for women, most especially education, livelihoods, healthcare and government which are directly linked to poverty alleviation. Meanwhile there are arguments that tight fiscal constraints facing Ghana may frustrate the widespread use of ICT by households. This is especially troublesome in the case of poor rural female households because without some type of government assistance, the ICT revolution may escape them altogether. Most scholars and policy leaders recognize that ICT is one of the contributing factors to social and economic disparities across different social and economic groups, for example, disparities between developed and developing countries, between rural and urban dwellers, and between men and women. The critical information needed for making appropriate and relevant ICT policies to improve rural conditions for women is to identify the characteristics of rural female households, and how these characteristics influence the choice of ICT technology.
The study uses results from a survey of 1000 households from the ten regions in Ghana to assess rural female household heads’ willingness to pay for alternative ICT use in the delivery of information to them. A pooled cross section technique was used to estimate an aggregate technology choice function for the entire country. Among the principal factors in the empirical model were households’ incomes, levels of education, sizes of households, availability of cooperatives or community organizations, age, and marital status. Standard regression techniques that correct for possible heteroscedastic errors due to the differences in regional and households’ attributes were used to estimate the model.
The results of the study leads to a need to set rural empowerment policies and programs within the broader poverty reduction policies of the government and also within the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The results enforce that the attainment of the MDGs would boost ICT use in delivering information to rural households since income was found to be consistently statistically significant in explaining rural women’s willingness to pay for information. Considering the context of the relationship between incomes and ICT use to empower rural women the key issue is for policy and program planners to better understand the dynamics in the enterprises of rural women and to recognize shifts in economic activity that may be counter to the historical pattern of economic activity which is agriculture oriented and design programs that will respond adequately to such shifts. By so doing rural women will be in a good position to utilize the full potential of ICT which will in turn improve their productivity/income and facilitate their empowerment

Keywords

ICT, Rural women, radio, extension agent, farmers

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