Rural women: communication, empowerment and the facilitating role of ICT

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De Wet, Gideon
Jonker, Helanie
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Department of Communication Science, University of the Free State
Many scholars describe empowerment as an ongoing, fluctuating, lifelong transformation and liberation process involving positive changes in the individual's psychological well-being (self-esteem and self-concept), the development of meaningful social relationships (friendship, and informal and formal support) and the pursuit of positive experiences. This article argues that Information Communication Technology (!CT) can play a facilitating development communication role in the processes of empowerment and thus development of rural African women. The study was conducted at the International Computer Driver's Licence (ICDL) Centre in rural South Africa with 30 conveniently selected women with a grade 12 educational level. The aim was to establish the following: How do women become empowered through communication facilitation processes as experienced at the ICDL Centre in order to contribute towards their own development? The most evident empowerment aspects were: • personal fulfilment, improvement of quality of life, more self-confidence, and could get a better job and higher status in the community; • close relationships within family and a higher level of emotional support were crucial; and • role models are predominantly female, especially the maternal figure who places a very high value on education. In all of these findings communication was experienc~{i as central to the process of empowerment.
Rural African women, Empowerment, Communication, ICT (Information Communication Technology)
De Wet, G., & Jonker, H. (2005). Rural women: communication, empowerment and the facilitating role of ICT. Communitas, 10, 153-170.