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Communications of the ACM

India Region Special Section: Hot topics

Designing ICT Interventions for Women in Pakistan

women in Pakistan attire

Credit: Gary Yim / Shutterstock

Information and communication technology (ICT) interventions are increasingly being used in developing countries to enable economic growth, employment, and empowerment. There is, however, growing agreement that the impact of ICTs in the Global South is not gender neutral but amplifies the existing gender inequalities within these countries.2,7 This is also true for Pakistan and India, where most ICT interventions deployed have largely ignored the unique needs of the female Pakistani (48.63%) and Indian populations (48.53%). Multi-country research on the impact of ICTs reveals their great potential for bringing about positive socioeconomic change and gains in economic growth.9 Similarly, studies reveal ICTs are one of the main drivers of economic growth in Asia, the Middle East, and Sub-Saharan African.3,8 However, in order to ensure entire populations benefit from the deployment and adoption of ICTs an understanding of the specific needs and challenges faced by women is imperative.

Given the patriarchal structures that constrain women in Pakistan, traditional Western digital solutions do not work. Detailed ethnographies reveal specific cultural, religious, and social contexts ICT interventions must design around. We explore the specific needs and constraints of low-literate, low-income women in Pakistan and tackle the gendered design of technologies for financial inclusion, maternal healthcare, and digital social connectivity.


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