Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are emerging as increasingly valuable business tools for women entrepreneurs in developing countries. Making sure that women entrepreneurs are equipped to make productive use of such technologies is important from the perspective of achieving Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 3 on Promoting Gender Equality and Empowering Women and MDG 8 on a Global Partnership for Development to make available the benefits of ICTs.
The rapidly changing ICT landscape, the influx of new innovations, infrastructure challenges and their interface with persisting age-long barriers relating to socio-cultural norms, and institutional, systemic and legal gender inequalities which have impeded women’s potential to start and grow their businesses is a complex terrain. Compounded by the scarcity of data on women’s entrepreneurship and ICTs, gaining a clear picture of the status of women entrepreneurs and their use of ICTs is often difficult for policymaking purposes.
For this reason, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) partnered to develop, for the first time, a framework for the assessment of women’s entrepreneurship development (WED) that systematically integrates the ICT dimension. The framework and methodology, which were launched in 2013, strives to fill a void for WED practitioners and policymakers – including development agencies, government ministries, SME partners and the donor community – interested in formulating more effective policies in this area.
This Guide has been produced by UNCTAD in collaboration with the ILO to help bring clarity to some of the key underlying ICT dynamics that are of relevance for women’s entrepreneurship and to set out a method for conducting an assessment which integrates these dimensions. It aspires to serve as a comprehensive and valuable resource to support the formulation of evidence-based policies empowering women entrepreneurs through ICTs and to make possible the full leveraging of the potential and capacities of women entrepreneurs in particular in developing countries.
UNCTAD expresses its appreciation to the Government of Sweden for its funding of the ILO/UNCTAD Project on Leveraging ICTs in Support of Women’s Entrepreneurship which served as the basis for the preparation of this publication.
Director, Division on Technology and Logistics