3.1 Basic ICT literacy for women: learning by doing

Learning the fundamentals of keyboard and browser use can open the door to an infinite range of learning experiences. Deliberate and dedicated programs that cater to first-time adult users, especially women, need to be designed, supported and delivered to enable this constituency of users to step over the digital threshold. Often, the simple functions of receiving and sending emails, using a search engine and reading web content are the starter blocks to training in ICT use. Demonstrating the usefulness of being ICT-literate in the context of their lives will create an incentive for women to participate actively and to use their newly acquired skills.

Content example: Computer Driving License in the Arab Region

The UNESCO Cairo office is the licensee for the International Computer Driving License (ICDL) in eight counties in the Arab region: Egypt, Lebanon, Libya, Jordan, Palestine, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. ICDL is an international version of the European Computer Driving License (ECDL) for use outside the EU countries. The programme covers the key concepts of computing, their practical applications, and their use in the workplace and society. It consists of seven modules, each of which must be passed before the ECDL/ICDL certificate is awarded. The modules are: Basic concepts of information technology; Using the computer and managing files; Word-processing; Spreadsheets; Databases; Presentations; and Information and Communication.

In preparing an ICT course, it is important to:

  • Learn about women’s specific needs within the community. If there are several women’s groups with different needs, courses should reflect this. When planning training, engage with women in the community to get their views and conduct a needs survey;
  • Include exercises so that each woman or girl can practice them in the telecenter or computer center, in their own time;
  • Choose context-relevant examples and exercises that apply to the realities that the women are dealing with on a daily basis;
  • Collaborate jointly with women’s institutions and organizations and other mainstream training institutions.

In many cultures, education in science and technology is often perceived to be a male domain. Training in ICT skills is rarely gender-sensitive or tailored to women’s needs, and may be delivered by a male trainer who has embedded perceptions about women’s capabilities that are inconsistent with a research-based understanding of women’s competencies and contributions in these fields.24 Training and supporting a network of women trainers is one way to redress these preconceptions.

Content example: Basic Internet Literacy Training, Bato, Philippines

The Basic Internet Literacy training, a course developed by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the Asia-Pacific Women’s Information Network Center (APWINC) for the "Development and Delivery of ICT Training Tools for the Promotion of Livelihood of Women in Rural Areas" project, is conducting its pilot in Bato’s Leyte Community eCenter. Participating in this training are the community’s womenfolk of all ages. The Basic Internet Literacy course will be followed by a customized training focusing on the participants’ utilization of available information from the World Wide Web. The courses focus on the basic use of social networking applications by rural women of the community, in particular those used to support farming and small agricultural businesses. See http://www.connectaschool.org/itu-training/3/159/en/Training_Remote_Rural_Users_ICT_Economic_Activities_Education_Government_Services/Basic_ICT_Literacy for training materials.


Information and communication technologies for women’s socio-economic empowerment. World Bank Group Working Paper Series, June 2009