1.2 Gender-related concepts and definitions

The term gender refers to the roles, responsibilities, relationships and identities defined for, or ascribed to, men and women within a given culture, society or context. Gender equality refers to equality of rights, voice, responsibilities and opportunities for men and women in society. Gender equity refers to fairness between men and women in access to society’s resources, rewards and opportunities. Gender gaps refer to societal differences between men and women that are considered undesirable.

A comprehensive source of basic terms and definitions relating to gender and ICTs is offered in the Gender Evaluation Methodology for Internet and ICTsThis is an important resource for all readers:


Examining gender roles may lead to a greater understanding of the differences between women and men in terms of ICT use and its impact. A few examples of the questions raised along gender lines are provided here:

  • In a given community, who makes household decisions? Where do they get their information from? (See text box below)
  • In a given community, do women and men, girls and boys participate equally in the use of Internet facilities at a library or telecenter?
  • At public ICT centers, are men visiting pornographic and violent sites and making women uncomfortable within that environment?
  • In a development organization, is there a gender difference among those who use/appropriate email and those who do not? Is a general public email account assigned to a lower category staff members, who are usually women, compared with private email accounts of top management, who are usually men? 
Fact of Interest: The information gap may contribute to male-dominated household decision-making.

In surveys in Ghana and Kenya, researchers found that women were less likely than men to say that they had sole decision-making power over household issues including:

  • Saving or borrowing money
  • Getting vaccinations
  • Household spending
  • Money transfers to/from relatives or others
  • Going to a hospital or visiting a doctor
  • Using birth control (in Ghana only… in Kenya, women were slightly more likely to report having the final say)
  • Personal or family healthcare

Where women were accessing information, this was mainly from newspapers, radio and word of mouth. The survey did not capture data on ICT usage.

Souce: www.audiencescapes.org

The Gender Evaluation Methodology in Section 5 provides more details on measuring and addressing these kinds of differences.