Excitement about new Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) is tempered by long-standing problems of gender inequality in development processes. In most developing countries, women make up the majority of the population working in agriculture, but they are marginalised with respect to access to ICTs for economic and social empowerment. Moreover, two-thirds of the world's 876 million illiterate people are women, most of whom live in rural areas of developing countries. This briefing paper, aimed at policymakers, donors, researchers, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and farmers' organisations, stresses the need for dialogue and action on issues of ICTs and gender in the context of food security, poverty reduction and sustainable development. These issues are on the agenda of many national development plans. Attention to them has also increased with the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) held last year and its follow-up conference to be held this year. The paper contains key gender and ICT concepts and outlines recent initiatives on gender, ICTs and agriculture. It also identifies three priority areas for improving ICT policy and management with respect to gender and agriculture at the national and local levels: coordinated policies, capacity building and developing partnerships.
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