Empowerment, access, and rights: introducing information and communication technology to women in Costa Rica, Mexico, and Nicaragua
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Amidst the dilemmas, controversies, and challenges associated with integrating computer technology in developing countries, many studies suggest that information and communication technology (ICT) offers a creative solution to persistent structural and social problems such as illiteracy, poverty, and unemployment (Wagner, 2001). Others contend that ICTs are tools that may be used to further individual or collective entrepreneurial endeavors. With the expansion of ICTs, women, in particular, are attempting to capitalize on these technologies to strengthen their individual positions in the public and private spheres. The widespread incorporation of ICTs in the Third World may have positive, benign, or negative effects on individuals. The success of such ICT vii programs depends upon the context in which they are created and how they address issues of the underlying structural problems inherent in the global structure of neoliberalism. My research explores to what extent programs, both public and private, influence the lives of women. More specifically, I will analyze how women experienced a change in self-esteem, created solidarity though their shared experience with other women, and were empowered in their homes, particularly in respect to their relationships with their children. At the same time, I will address how and why women often experienced disempowerment as they attempted to capitalize on their skills and new social capital. My analysis will attempt to illustrate to what extent this course influenced personal empowerment, empowerment at the community level, and development on the macro level.