Applying the Institutional Matrix in Country Contexts
This chapter provides insights based on an interrogation of the e-government ecosystems of the five countries covered by the research, using the institutional analysis matrix detailed in Table 1.
The parameters that have been used to understand e-service delivery are:
- Approach to gender mainstreaming in e-service delivery
- Availability of sex-disaggregated data about uptake of services
- Data security and privacy legislation
- Effective management of accountability issues in new partnership arrangements
- Shift from silo-based functioning to a convergent approach
- Dedicated strategies to promote women’s uptake of services
a. Approach to gender mainstreaming in e-service delivery
The Philippines has made the most headway in addressing gender-mainstreaming considerations through e-government policy. The Republic of Korea leads as far as on-ground implementation is concerned. In the case of Australia, women-directed services exist and they are integrated with the one-stop-shop portals set up by various state agencies. However, the strategic vision of e-service delivery as an instrument for tackling gender-based exclusion does not go beyond identifying women as a key ‘community in need’ to be covered by such efforts. In Fiji and India, a strategic vision on gender is completely absent in e-government policy.
Australia Women-directed services exist in many areas such as health, GBV prevention, employment etc. Australia has also ensured that all women-directed services find a place in the common one-stop-shop portals set up by state agencies. However, the strategic potential of e-government for addressing gender-based exclusion is not fully tapped into, beyond identifying women as a sub-set of a larger target group of ‘communities in need’, including indigenous people, people with disabilities etc., who must be covered by e-service delivery efforts.
Fiji The only reference to gender considerations in official policy frameworks is in the Governance of e-Government Report (2008) which promotes “considering women as a target sector (along with “rural, youth, elderly, disadvantaged, industry, schools, health professionals, media, ministerial advisers”) in the communications and marketing strategy”.103 The absence of strategies for gendering mainstreaming service delivery extends to the implementation level as well. Fiji has no women-directed online services and only one mobile based service for women, mWomen. The website of the Ministry for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation has information but no online services or links to the e-government portal.
India The country lacks a policy framework on e-government and a systemic approach to gender in e-government. As a result, though there are some innovative experiments in gender-responsive service delivery that have been initiated by public administration officials, they remain ad hoc and do not add up to a cohesive strategic direction. Also, the Ministry of Women and Child Development has not recognized the strategic importance of the digital opportunity for women’s empowerment and gender equality, and its initiatives in e-government remain limited to routine digitalization.
Philippines The Philippine Digital Strategy 2011–16 makes a firm policy commitment to harnessing ICTs for women’s empowerment and making e-government gender-responsive. Women-directed services exist, for example in health, violence against women, and vocational education. Women’s agencies have a web presence. Coordination between the ICT offices and agencies that are part of the national women’s machinery is an area that can be strengthened further.
Republic of Korea The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family (MOGEF) has attempted to actively use online channels to improve its effectiveness. Through the Women-net portal, all services of the Ministry are brought together on an integrated platform. The portal is designed in a user friendly way that classifies information according to the different needs of women at various stages of their life cycle. There is evidence about the positive impact of the MOGEF’s efforts.104
b. Availability of sex-disaggregated data about uptake of services
Out of the 5 countries covered by the study, the Republic of Korea, Australia and the Philippines have such data.
Australia Sex-disaggregated data on uptake of e-services reveals that older women are at high risk of being excluded from service delivery.
Fiji There is a lack of information on women’s uptake of e-government. Anecdotal evidence suggests higher risk of exclusion for women in rural and remote communities.
India Data about women’s access and use of e-services not available. Further, data systems underpinning planning and administration systems are also not sex-disaggregated.
Philippines Recently, the Philippines has made some progress in the creation of sex-disaggregated data sets for e-government. The ICT office, along with the International Telecommunications Office, launched the Philippine ICT statistics portal in 2012. The portal intends to make available “ICT statistics from various sectors like e-health, education, gender, telecommunications, cyberservices, e-commerce, e-government, cyber-security, business process outsourcing, e-entertainment.” 105
Republic of Korea Sex-disaggregated data on uptake of e-services are available. The data reveals that the gender gap in awareness of, and use of, e-services increases with age.
c. Data security and privacy legislation
Australia and the Republic of Korea have strong legislative safeguards for protecting personal data. The Philippines is in the process of creating an implementation mechanism for enforcing its Data Privacy Act. Fiji and India do not have legislation in this area.
Australia Complex and thorough legislation exists in the area of data protection. However, the storage of metadata of citizens in the age of digital government is still an unresolved issue. As a result, Australia does not have a national identity card-based system for authenticating digital service delivery transactions. It has instead adopted a transparent ‘federated technology’ approach in which users access government services of different departments through a common portal using a single name and password, with the guarantee that no information about them is exchanged between departments.
Fiji Technical aspects of data security are entrusted to the Information Technology and Computing Services Unit, the agency implementing the e-government programme. Except for the Right to Privacy guaranteed in the country’s Bill of Rights, there is no legislation on data protection.
India India does not have robust privacy and data protection legislation. However, the government is going ahead with creating a national citizen identification database through which interlinking of citizen data across different departments will be possible.
Philippines In 2012, the Philippines Congress passed a Data Privacy Act which provides the legal framework for the protection of the personal information held by governments and companies and the constitution of a National Privacy Commission. However, implementation guidelines are yet to be formulated and the National Privacy Commission is yet to be set up.
Republic of Korea In 2011, Republic of Korea enacted the Personal Information Protection Act for the protection of sensitive personal data. In addition, the IT Network Act regulates the collection and use of personal sensitive information by IT service providers.106
d. Effective management of accountability issues in new partnership arrangements
E-government opens up a number of opportunities for creative ‘boundary spanning’,107 an approach in which the traditionally rigid boundaries of governance organizations become more flexible, through increase in intra-governmental and intergovernmental collaborations.
These new governance arrangements work best when accountabilities are clearly specified. Australia and the Republic of Korea have made significant progress in this area. In the Philippines, judicial intervention has upheld the primacy of government agencies in determining the terms of Private Public Partnerships (PPP). In India and Fiji, there is a significant push for PPPs in e-government, without appropriate governance arrangements. Needless to say, weak accountability mechanisms in PPP arrangements can compromise public interest and the gender equality agenda.
Australia There is widespread recognition of ‘boundary spanning’ in e-government, the modalities through which governments increasingly rely on private and third sector partners in e-service delivery. There are strong provisions for Service Level Agreements included in partnership contracts in service delivery, to safeguard citizen interests.
Fiji The delivery and management of the national e-government programme has been contracted to a private service provider, Pacific Digital Technologies. However, the precise terms of the contractual arrangement and the oversight mechanisms that the government has put in place have not been shared in the public domain. This is an impediment to citizens seeking redress for service quality.
India The countrywide one-stop-shop network for last-mile service delivery lacks effective PPP governance frameworks.108 PPPs are also common in the development and maintenance of software applications and database management systems underpinning specific service delivery initiatives. However, data governance arrangements in these partnerships are not robust.
Philippines The Philippine Digital Strategy 2011-16 considers the PPP route critical to realizing the vision of a “thriving knowledge economy”. One key milestone in the evolution of frameworks for governing PPPs was a recent Supreme Court ruling upholding the primacy of government agencies in all such arrangements.
Republic of Korea In the management of PPP arrangements, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family has moved from initial contracts with IT companies for management of e-services, to domain experts who can then subcontract an IT agency for platform management. Technical support in e-governance is seen as subservient to the overall domain strategy rather than the other way around.
e. Shift from silo-based functioning to a convergent approach
The Republic of Korea leads the way through its dedicated one stop portal for women-directed services. Australia too has made information about women-directed services clearly searchable on its one-stop-shop portals. Portal design recognizes that women are not an undifferentiated homogeneous category. In the Philippines, India and Fiji, convergent service delivery itself is nascent.
Australia Single entry portals that enable interlinkages between information about departmental services and multi-filter search options have been a key strategy in Australia. Online information about women-directed services is linked to these single entry portals, and is clearly searchable. For example, a search for the key word ‘women’ on the single window portal set up by the South Australian government, returned some 347 results.
Fiji Fiji has an e-government portal that pulls together services of different departments online, but it needs updating. Also, the review was not able to find any women-directed online service on this portal.
India The Digital India programme launched in 2014 emphasizes integrated rather than individual services. However, more progress needs to be made on the ground to implement this vision.
Philippines E-service delivery in the Philippines is still at a nascent stage, and there is still a lot of progress to be made in terms of interoperability of databases adopted by different agencies, in order to facilitate convergent service delivery. In 2014, the Department of Science and Technology announced the plan to integrate government services into a single portal.109
Republic of Korea The Women-net portal is an integrated platform that brings together all services of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family. The portal is designed in a user friendly way that classifies information according to the different needs of women at various stages of their life cycle. Additionally, services of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family are well-integrated into the national ‘Government for Citizen’ (G4C) web portal.
f. Dedicated strategies to promote women’s uptake of services
With the exception of Fiji, all countries covered under the study recognize the need to develop dedicated strategies to promote women’s uptake of e-services. Human intermediation at the last mile to promote uptake of e-services by women is seen as a useful strategy in Australia and the Philippines, and adopted to some extent in India. In the Republic of Korea, with its very high rates of ICT diffusion, mobile platforms are seen as the next frontier for enhancing e-service outreach.
Australia The Government of Australia recognizes the importance of human intermediation at the last mile, especially by civil society organizations and the public library network, to ensure that older women and women from aboriginal communities are not marginalized.
Fiji E-services are seen as gender-neutral.
India Some efforts in one-stop-shop centres for enhancing marginalized women’s access to service delivery exist, but such experiments have remained at the level of pilots and have not been scaled up.
Philippines The Community eCentres programme of the government of the Philippines recognizes the importance of human intermediation at the last mile for enhancing the uptake of digitalized services among marginalized groups. In some instances, the local administration has focused on enhancing outreach efforts to women.
Republic of Korea In the context of extremely high levels of mobile diffusion, mobile applications are seen as the critical strategy for reaching out to women. The gender gap in the uptake of mobile e-government services is less than that for online services.
The parameters that have been used to understand citizen uptake are as follows:
- New norms of citizen engagement and strategic attention to women’s e-participation
- Maturity of open data frameworks
- Open standards
- Digital literacy efforts directed at women
a. New norms of citizen engagement and strategic attention to women’s e-participation
The Republic of Korea and Australia are pioneers in exploring the digital opportunity for re-imagining government-citizen engagement. Both countries are global leaders in the area of e-participation, and have taken significant strides in recasting the citizen as an active collaborator rather than a passive recipient of services. Neither country has made an effort to strategically address the question of ensuring women’s e-participation. However, in the Republic of Korea, the push for mobile e-government services as part of Government 3.0 may have unintended positive impacts on women’s uptake of services. India and the Philippines have started working on this area, though they have a long way ahead. In Fiji, there seems to be no recognition of the strategic opportunity for citizen participation that the digital age offers.
Australia The citizen is seen as an ‘active collaborator’ rather than a mere recipient of services, which is evidenced by the recent push for co-design of services. The e-participation supplementary index in the UN E-Government Survey, places Australia at number 7 in its global rankings. Policy guidelines for the design of online participation spaces specify the need to be sensitive to linguistic and cultural diversity, and the special needs of citizens living with disability. But gender based considerations are not discussed. The citizen-user is considered gender-neutral.
Fiji The emerging opportunities for government-citizen partnerships are not yet harnessed for women’s e-participation.
India The government’s flagship programme ‘Digital India’ identifies digital empowerment of citizens as a key strategic objective, towards which the government-citizen dialogue is considered an important strategy. In 2014, the government set up the myGOV.in portal to provide a critical space for policy debate and dialogue among citizens. However, this portal is not tied to a concrete process of policy consultation, and hence citizen’s voices are not effectively translated into the ‘right to be heard’. Also, there is no clear strategy for ensuring the inclusion of women’s voices on the portal. Some exceptional initiatives creatively designed by public servants do exist, as in the case of the Sreeshakti portal in Kerala state.
Philippines The e-participation supplementary index of the UN e-government survey 2014 places the Philippines at number 51 in its rankings. The Philippines does not have a citizen participation portal at this point.110 Additional efforts are required from state agencies to ensure participation of women, including in ICT policy development.
Republic of Korea In the Government 3.0 vision of ‘expanded democracy’, active participation by citizens and enhanced communication and cooperation between government and citizens are values that occupy pride of place. In practice, this translates into extensive efforts in the provision of e-information, e-consultation and e-decision-making services. In fact, the Republic of Korea ranks second in the e-participation index of the UN EGDI, and its e-decision making services rank among the top 3 countries. There is no strategic perspective however, on enhancing women’s e-participation. Mobile services may bring unintended gains for women’s e-participation as women use mobile e-government services more than online services.
b. Maturity of open data frameworks
The Republic of Korea demonstrates how open data policy frameworks can be strategically used by the national women’s machinery to enhance women’s right to information. The experience of Australia indicates how the existence of open data frameworks may help in foregrounding women’s issues and concerns in the public domain, as illustrated by the case of the Office of Women in New South Wales publishing its data sets on women’s socioeconomic status. The Philippines has a robust open data policy framework despite a pending Freedom of Information bill, and has managed to effectively decentralize open data implementation. In India, further efforts are required to ensure implementation of its policy on open data. Fiji does not have open data policies.
Australia Australia has been part of the Open Government Partnership since 2011. Open data policy frameworks exist, at both federal and state levels, and there is also a trend of using Creative Commons licensing on government platforms. There are instances of state governments independently deciding to release data sets in the public domain, in the larger public interest. For example, the Office of Women in New South Wales recently decided to publish its data on women’s socioeconomic status. However, the implementation of open data policies is mainly informed by what can be termed a ‘best endeavours’ perspective, due to cost constraints. Also, open data frameworks do not fully overlap with freedom of information legislation.
Fiji Fiji does not have an open data policy or a freedom of information law. However, the Government of Fiji has recently renewed its commitment to creating freedom of information legislation.
India India has a Right to Information Act, a National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy (NDSAP) that serves as a policy framework for open data (including the specifications on technical standards) and an Open Government Portal on which central government agencies and departments can share their data sets. Progress in the implementation of open data frameworks has been slow, for multiple reasons, including lack of linkages between NDSAP and the Right to Information Act, lack of integration between data sets held by different departments and no progress on data privacy legislation. The last issue has had repercussions for women’s rights. For example, recently, a government agency in the state of Karnataka published personal data of women from backward classes, collected as part of a Socio Economic Census, on its website without due consideration of privacy risks.111
Philippines Freedom of information is guaranteed in the Bill of Rights of the 1987 Constitution. A freedom of information law that would act as an enabling law for this constitutional guarantee is pending before the legislature. The Philippine government has made a number of significant strides in the area of open data. The Open Data Task Force aims at “mak(ing) national data searchable, accessible, and useful, with the help of the different agencies of government, and with the participation of the public.” 112
The Full Disclosure Policy Portal by the Department of Interior and Local Government provides a space for local government units to share information and data with the public. Compliance with the policy is rewarded by the Seal of Good Local Governance (a national scorecard/ranking system).
Republic of Korea Openness in government is a critical part of the vision of Government 3.0. In 2013, the government adopted the Promotion of the Provision and Use of Public Data Act that upholds the norms of transparency and citizens’ right to know. Following this, the government opened website portals for the release of public information and data. The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family website has a specific section for the release of public data. This section provides a list of public information that can be released without request — in other words, it educates women about the information that they have a de facto right to access.
c. Open standards
In back-end technical architecture, open standards are important to ensure seamless operation in the e-government workflow through interoperability of software platforms or applications. This brings enormous efficiency gains. Further, open standards ensure that state agencies are not burdened by the costs of license renewals from a private vendor of a proprietary software application. The use of open standards in front-end applications such as e-government portals and platforms brings tremendous gains for citizens. It enhances their autonomy with respect to their choice of software and also provides protection from state surveillance, as data transmitted in government-citizen online interaction become visible to the individual concerned.113
The Republic of Korea incentivizes the use of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) by government agencies. The Philippines attempted to enact legislation mandating the use of FOSS and open standards in all ICT solutions/processes of government, but has finally opted to leave the choice of software to the discretion of individual agencies. India has policy guidelines recommending the adoption of open standards, but there are implementation lags. Australia does not mandate the use of open standards. Fiji has no guidelines in this area.
Australia In Australia, the use of open technology in e-service delivery is not mandatory.
Fiji There is no policy framework on technical openness.
India The National IT Policy affirms the need for open technical architecture. India has a policy on open standards (2010) that emphasizes interoperability and the need to prevent vendor lock-ins in e-government. It also has a Policy on Adoption of Open Source Software (2014) that emphasizes the need to compare closed source and open source solutions with respect to “capability, strategic control, scalability, security, lifetime costs and support requirements” 114 when implementing e-governance solutions. However, these guidelines are not enforced universally by all government agencies, especially with respect to PPP arrangements.
Philippines In the early 2000s, there was an attempt by policymakers in the Philippines to enact a Free and Open Source Software Act, mandating the use of open standards and FOSS ICT solutions in all ICT projects and activities undertaken by the government. However, in 2009, an Open Choice strategy was adopted by the Philippines Commission on Information and Communication Technology.115
Republic of Korea The Ministry of Information and Communication in 2005 launched an initiative to incentivize the adoption of FOSS in government, by offering 3 billion Won to agencies switching over from proprietary software.116 More recently, in 2014, the Republic of Korea stepped up efforts in this area with the Open Source Software Invigoration Plan. 117
d. Digital literacy efforts directed at women
In Australia, digital literacy efforts are a key policy priority but they are not women-focused in design. The Republic of Korea invested in women-oriented digital literacy initiatives in the early days of e-government. However, this investment has been discontinued. The Philippines has implemented small scale initiatives in this regard. Currently, India is taking nascent steps in this direction. Fiji has not invested in this area.
Australia From the 1990s, state and territory governments in Australia rolled out digital literacy programmes, to target remote communities. After the launch of the National Broadband Network in 2011, two programmes were initiated: (a) The Digital Hubs programme, which has aimed at establishing spaces for digital literacy training in local libraries, civic centres and community colleges and (b) The Digital Enterprises programme that has sought to equip small and medium businesses and non-profit organizations with the skills to effectively participate in the digital economy. These initiatives are not specifically directed at women. However, it can be argued that small and medium businesses and non-profit organizations are sectors which are likely to have a high percentage of women, and hence a focus on these sectors contributes to a focus on women. Both these programmes are supported by the Internetbasics.gov.au website that aims at providing a guide to Internet novices to stay “confident, comfortable and safe” in online spaces.
Fiji Currently, there are no programmes that address women’s digital literacy needs. The network of Community Telecentres set up by the Government of Fiji offers a theoretical possibility for women’s ICT skills development if interwoven with this initiative.
India Universal digital literacy received a massive push under the Digital India programme, through the launch of the National Digital Literacy Mission. This is a countrywide initiative that aims to train 5 million citizens in acquiring ICT skills in order to “participate effectively in the democratic process, and enhance their livelihood”. The Digital India programmatic framework does not specify a concrete vision for women’s digital literacy, but digital literacy programmes for female frontline workers in health and child development services have been initiated.
Philippines In 2011, the Philippine Digital Literacy for Women Campaign was launched by the government of the Philippines with the objective of providing free digital literacy training to 10,000 marginalized women nationwide. This initiative was spearheaded by the ICT Office, leveraging the nationwide Community eCentre network of public access points — enlisting the support of private sector partners and non-profit organizations. Not much progress in systematic institutionalization has been made since this campaign, due to the lack of policy leadership in this area.
Republic of Korea The Republic of Korea has focused on digital literacy trainings, including exclusive trainings for women, from the mid 1990s, when the Framework Act on Informatization Protection and Elimination of the Digital Divide in 1995 was enacted. The 2001 Plan for the Informatization of Ten Million Citizens focused on e-literacy for farmers, fishermen and homemakers. The number of Internet users increased from 3.1 million in 1998 to 24.4 million by the end of 2001, i.e., 56 per cent of the country’s population. The percentage of women among Internet users rose from 7.7 per cent in 1998 to 57.8 per cent in 2001. The Second Step Training Plan on Informatization of Citizens aimed at equipping 5 million citizens to become information producers.
As a part of this, a series of e-Biz trainings directed at homemakers were launched. In addition, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, since its inception in 2001, has launched women-directed literacy efforts. Between 2002 and 2008, the Ministry pursued this agenda by identifying women’s informatization as one of its five key focus areas. After 2008, with the disbanding of the Ministry of Information and Communication that had previously led national informatization efforts, and the abolition of the Elimination of the Digital Divide Act, digital literacy initiatives for women have greatly reduced.
The following dimensions have informed the analysis of the connectivity architecture of the 5 countries:
- Gender gaps in connectivity
- Universal access
- Gender in connectivity and broadband policy frameworks
a. Gender gaps in connectivity
In the Philippines, the rate of Internet uptake among women and men is nearly equal, and the mobile Internet has been growing at an exponential rate.118 However, there is much more to be done to ensure that the connectivity backbone is robust. Currently, users are in a situation where “they end up paying more for slow connectivity”.119 In Australia and the Republic of Korea, the gender gap in Internet access is pronounced among older age groups. In India, the gender gap is significant, and Internet penetration levels are still low. Data about the gender divide in connectivity is not available for Fiji.
Australia Australia has one of the highest rates of smart phone penetration in the world — almost 90 per cent. Over 83 per cent of citizens aged 15 years and above are Internet users, according to 2012–13 data. The 15–17 year age group has the highest number of Internet users, and the 65 years and above age group has the lowest proportion of Internet users. In the latter, a noticeable gender divide in Internet access is seen. Further, studies have revealed that older women are clearly disadvantaged when it comes to accessing e-services. Aboriginal communities constitute another segment of the population that is extremely disadvantaged when it comes to access to the Internet.
Fiji The recent moves by the Government of Fiji to deregulate the telecommunication sector, through the Settlement Agreement of 2007 and Telecommunications Promulgation of 2008, contributed to a decrease in mobile phone costs and a phenomenal increase in mobile phone subscriptions from 35 per 100 inhabitants in 2006 to 101.1 per 100 inhabitants in 2013. This development, coupled with the rise of Internet-enabled smart phones and the adoption of 3G and 4G broadband, has contributed to a growth in Internet connectivity. However, the extent to which women’s access to the mobile phone, the Internet, and e-services has increased, is not known.
India About 19 per cent of the Indian population and 3 per cent of Indian households use the Internet. Further, technology adoption within government and by business is limited. The access divide is amplified along gender lines. In fact, less than 40 per cent of Internet users in the country are women — a proportion that is far lower than other countries.
Philippines The 2014 Nielsen Pinoy Netizen report revealed that Internet penetration in the Philippines doubled from 27 per cent in 2010 to 52 per cent in 2014. The bulk of this growth can be traced to an exponential growth in mobile phone penetration. Concomitantly, mobile Internet diffusion increased from 9 per cent in 2012 to 35 per cent in 2014. Fixed broadband penetration is about 9 per cent. The Philippines has one of the slowest Internet speeds in the ASEAN region. The Philippines has nearly equal rates of Internet use for women and men aged 15 years and above, with slightly higher rates of Internet use among women.
Republic of Korea Over the past few years, Internet use by women and men has been increasing, and the gender gap is about 8 per cent. When Internet use statistics are disaggregated by age, a more nuanced picture emerges. The gender gap between women and men Internet users in their 20s has reversed, with women users outnumbering men. Among users in their 30s, the gender gap has evened out while for users in their fifties and sixties, the gender gap continues to persist. Mobile broadband plays a key role in Internet diffusion. Smart phone access is high among both men (95.4 per cent) and women (94.7 per cent).
b. Universal access
The Republic of Korea has achieved near universal Internet access. The Philippines has pending legislation on the right to Internet access. Australia, India and Fiji have policy guidelines for expanding Internet access, but do not have legislation guaranteeing universal access.
Australia No legislative guarantee on Internet access, though there is policy backing for the construction of a National Broadband Network to expand access for remote communities.
Fiji Universal access to internationally competitive ICTs 120 is a policy priority, but there is no legislative guarantee.
India Constructing a national optic fibre network connecting the entire length and breadth of the country is a programmatic priority, but no legislative guarantee.
Philippines A bill on the right to Internet access has been filed in the Senate (the draft Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom that has a provision which makes it obligatory for the state to protect and promote universal access).121
Republic of Korea The Republic of Korea is a global leader in universalization of Internet access and over 92.4 per cent of its population is online. The country has made dedicated investments in the development of broadband infrastructure. However, the country does not have legislation that guarantees citizens’ access to the Internet.
c. Gender in connectivity and broadband policy frameworks
The Republic of Korea is a pioneer in gendering the policy framework on connectivity. The Philippines Digital Strategy 2011–16 also addresses the gender dimensions of connectivity, but its implementation falls short. Australia and India are both intensively engaged in the development of a national broadband network, but policy frameworks in both countries lack a clear strategic vision for addressing women’s rights. In Fiji, the National Broadband Policy was developed only in 2011 and does not have a gender vision.
Australia The National Broadband Network seeks to “…ensure all Australians have access to very fast broadband as soon as possible, at affordable prices, and at least cost to taxpayers”.122 Reaching broadband to remote and rural communities is a key policy priority. However, there is no specific gender strategy for broadband policy. A 1998 policy note on ‘Extending Australia’s digital divide policy: an examination of the value of social inclusion and social capital policy’, is silent on the subject of gender.
Fiji In 2011, Fiji launched its first National Broadband Policy that explicitly foregrounded the idea of universal access, by highlighting the need to bring the benefits of connectivity to communities “bypassed by market forces.” 123 One of the critical objectives of this policy is to provide “broadband service availability to 95 per cent of all urban, suburban and rural communities, and 100 per cent of all primary and secondary schools, by 2016.” 124 The policy does not include any strategic objectives for promoting women’s inclusion or a gender budget, even though social inclusion is a stated objective of the policy.
India In 2012, the Government of India launched the national optic fibre network to provide broadband access to villages across the country. But this scheme has not addressed relevant services for local communities, and building gender-responsive cultures of use at the last mile. It stops short of providing a basic infrastructural network across the length and breadth of the country and leaves the question of last-mile broadband retailing to the market. However, the Department of Telecommunications ran a few pilot projects with private sector partners to provide subsidized mobile-based value added services, such as information on market prices, and rural livelihoods, to members of women’s collectives in select locations. The funding for this initiative was drawn from the gender budget of the Universal Service Obligation Fund.
Philippines The Philippines Digital Strategy 2011–16 aims for increased broadband integration and broadband skills training for marginalized social groups living in poverty. The strategy also seeks to embed broadband policy frameworks in different ministries, for “addressing gender and environmental aspects of ICT and ICT awareness as cross-sectoral themes.” 125 Community eCentres have been a critical strategy for reaching the benefits of connectivity to poor and marginalized groups. More effort is required at the implementation end, in order to ensure that women are not left out from the benefits of connectivity.
Republic of Korea As early as 2002, the Republic of Korea adopted a proactive ICT policy for gender equality in its Basic Plan for Women’s Informatization (2002–2006). The Republic of Korea is considered a pioneer in adopting a gender perspective in ICT policymaking.
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- Choi & Zoo, op.cit.
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- Boundary Spanning is a term from organizational theory, which originally referred to the role played by individual innovators in linking the internal networks of the organizations that they are a part of, to external informational resources. The term has since been borrowed by e-governance scholars, who use it to refer to the new partnerships with corporate and civil society actors that government agencies enter into, in order to leverage digital expertise in the transition to e-governance. See Edwards, M., Halligan, J., Horrigan, B., & Nicoli, G. (2012). Public Sector Governance in Australia. Canberra: Australian National University E Press. Retrieved from http://press.anu.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/whole1.pdf, 21 April 2016.
- Kuriyan & Ray, op.cit.
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- Centre for Internet & Society. (n.d.). Openness. In Knowledge Repository on Internet Access. Retrieved from http://cis-india.org/telecom/knowledge-repository-on-internet-access/openness, 21 April 2016.
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