Women and ICT in Muslim Countries: Policies, Practices and Challenges

Salma Abbasi

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This thesis explores the challenges and barriers that influence women’s engagement with ICTs in Muslim countries, particularly in Pakistan. It examines the extent to which ICT policies, plans and strategies for 24 countries refer to women, and the implications that this has for their experience of ICTs. It analyses the cultural and social constraints on women’s engagement with ICTs. Empirical research was conducted in five regions of Pakistan using documentary analysis, interviews, focus groups and questionnaires.

The research shows that involving women in the ICT policy formulation process does not necessarily guarantee effective and inclusive ICT policies. Supporting Thas et al. (2007) and Chowdhury and Khanam (2005) it suggests that women from diverse sections of society with real knowledge of cultural and social contexts need to be involved in policy making if it is to be of benefit to women.

Building on the work of Wanasundera (2006) and Hafkin (2002), the research suggests that ICT policies cannot be gender-neutral in countries such as Pakistan, where prevailing patriarchal social structures limit understandings of the constraints faced by women in effectively utilising ICTs in their individual and collective interests.

The use and impact of ICTs depends greatly on class, education and geographical location (Gurumurthy, 2004; Jorge, 2002). ICT policies/programmes appear to cater mainly for the needs of wealthy, upper and middle class educated urban women. Thus ICTs have negligible benefits for the lower class poor, uneducated rural women (Arun et al., 2004). This research also highlights critical gaps in our understanding of the interface between ICTs, women and development (Momsen, 2004).

Women face a wide range of social barriers in their use of ICTs, based on their environments, immersed in tradition and cultural norms. This research identifies substantial barriers that appear to be unaddressed in the design of ICT projects and guidebooks.
Original languageEnglish
  • Unwin, Tim, Supervisor
  • Willis, Katie, Supervisor
Award date1 Mar 2012
Publication statusUnpublished - 1 Mar 2012


  • Women, ICT, Policies, Use and Impact of ICTs , Barriers and Challenges for Women, ICT Impact Indicators, Muslim Countries

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