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Ending the Gender Digital Divide in Myanmar:A Problem-Driven Political Economy AssessmentSheila Scott, Center for Applied Learning and Impact, IREXwith Swathi Balasubramanian and Amber Ehrke

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSThe authors wish to thank the many organizations and individuals without whom thisresearch would not have come to fruition. The staff of IREX’s Beyond Access programfirst noted the negative impact of the gender gap on women’s and girls’ access toinformation and training at public libraries throughout Myanmar. Field researchers SwathiBalasubramian and Amber Ehrke provided countless helpful insights into research design,resources and early drafts. IREX internal reviewers Sarah Bever, Ari Katz, Stephanie Lake andSamhir Vasdev ensured the analysis was well grounded in the global context of ICT4D andinternational education. External reviewers Rick Nuccio, Matt Baker and Charles Cadwellshared thoughtful questions that clarified the research lines of inquiry at helpful moments.In Myanmar, the Myanmar Book and Preservation Fund has been a steady companion on thejourney towards digital inclusion. We are deeply grateful for the many participants of focusgroup discussions and key informants who shared their experience with technology andinsights on the digital divide today. And a special thanks are extended to Cho Chan Myei Oofor her keen understanding and excellent interpretation skills.IREXCenter for Applied Learning and Impact1275 K Street, NW, Suite 600Washington, DC 20005 2017 IREX. All rights reserved.For any commercial reproduction, please obtain permission fromcommunications@irex.org.

Table of ContentsList of Acronyms. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2Executive Summary. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3Global Context. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3Recommendations. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5Introduction. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11Key Findings. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12Why a PEA?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13Methodology and Limitations. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15Structure of the Report. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17GLOBAL CONTEXT: Gender, ICTs, and Development . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18The Global Gender Digital Divide. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19Myanmar’s Evolving Information Society. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21Special Focus on Education. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24FOUNDATIONAL FACTORS: System Legitimacy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25People and Place . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26Gender and Power. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29The Technology Ecosystem. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36The Legal Environment. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42RULES OF THE GAME: Institutions and Norms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46National and Regional Governance Institutions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47Patronage Networks and Other Incentives. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58Educational Institutions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61Private Sector Interests. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69Civil Society. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72HERE AND NOW: Current Players and Dynamics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75Military Leaders & Politicians. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77Oligarchs & Entrepreneurs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81Educators and Students. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83Activists. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85Consumers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85RECOMMENDATIONS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91Annex A: Stakeholder Questionnaire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93Annex B: List of Consultations. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96Annex C: Key GDD-Related Institutions and Agencies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97Annex D: Recommended Resources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101Annex E: Map of Education Projects, by Township . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102Annex F: Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103Ending the Gender Digital Divide in Myanmar: A Problem-Driven Political Economy Assessment 1

List of Acronyms2GSecond-generation digital technologyA4AIAlliance for Affordable InternetADBAsian Development BankASEANAssociation of Southeast Asian NationsCEDAWConvention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against WomenCSOCivil society organizationDfIDDepartment for International Development, Government of Great BritainDFATDepartment of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Government of AustraliaGADGeneral Administration Department, Myanmar Ministry of Home AffairsGoMGovernment of the Republic of the Union of MyanmarGONGOGovernment-organized [quasi] non-governmental organizationICTInformation and communication technologyICT4DICTs for DevelopmentINGOinternational non-governmental organizationMBAPFMyanmar Book and Preservation FoundationMCITMinistry of Communications and Information Technology (dissolved 2016)MCRBMyanmar Center for Responsible BusinessMIDOMyanmar ICT Development OrganizationMoEMinistry of EducationMoTCMinistry of Transportation and Communications (established 2016)MPTMyanmar Post and TelecommunicationsNESPNational Education Strategic PlanNLDNational League for DemocracyNSPAWNational Strategic Plan for the Advancement of WomenPEAPolitical economy analysisSGBVSexual and gender-based violenceSMSShort message serviceSTEMScience, technology, engineering, and mathematicsTASCHATechnology and Social Change Group, University of WashingtonTVETTechnical and vocational education and trainingUNUnited NationsUNDPUnited Nations Development ProgramUNESCOUnited Nations Education, Social and Cultural OrganizationUSAIDUnited States Agency for International DevelopmentVAWViolence against women and girlsWASHWater, sanitation, and hygieneEnding the Gender Digital Divide in Myanmar: A Problem-Driven Political Economy Assessment 2

Executive SummaryExecutive SummaryEnsuring that women and girls engage in the digital world is fundamental toMyanmar’s democratic and economic growth. Yet women are 28% less likelyIREX INSIGHTthan men to own a mobile phone, the primary means of internet access in theDigital inclusion is fundamentalcountry, and experience related disparities in digital skills and use. To betterto Myanmar’s democratic andunderstand this gap, IREX conducted a first-of-its-kind political economy analysiseconomic growth—yet the extentof Myanmar’s gender digital divide. The report offers a nuanced view of who isto which women and girls areexcluded and how, with tailored, practical recommendations to narrow the divide.currently excluded is neither fullyMyanmar is currently undergoing a technological revolution concurrent with systemicpolitical and economic change. As the country transitions to a democratic, market-basedacknowledged nor appreciatedas a brake on development.economy, there has been a great deal of optimism about the potential for informationand communication technology (ICT)1 to optimize the positive impact of people-centeredreforms in Myanmar. Yet the nearly unprecedented pace of adoption of mobile ICT devices2is uneven across gender, ethnic, geographic, and socioeconomic lines, which begs thequestion: what does this sea change in interconnectedness mean for Myanmar’swomen and girls, particularly those belonging to marginalized groups?This research report examines the extent to which nuanced evidence exists for genderbased differences in ICT access, digital skills, and benefits derived from ICTs among thediverse population of Myanmar and, in turn, gauges stakeholder awareness of how suchdifferences may exacerbate existing disparities in development outcomes such as health,employment, and education.3 Applying a political economy analysis (PEA) through a genderlens, the research reveals how deeply ingrained gender-based power dynamics, roles,and expectations influence individual differences noted in ownership, usage, andbenefits as well as institutional incentives—or lack thereof—to close the gap.Global ContextThere is a direct correlation between systemic uptake of information and communicationtechnologies (referred to as “networked readiness”) and GDP,4 and the United Nations andother institutions have clearly articulated a link between ICTs and all seventeen of the UNSustainable Development goals.5 While ICTs in general and internet access in particular arenot a panacea, they are a critical component of sustainable and equitable economic andsocial development.ICTs consist of hardware, software, networks, and media for collection, storage, processing, transmission,and presentation of information (voice, data, text, images). See World Bank Group, ICTs and MDGs: A World BankGroup Perspective, December 2003.2Mobile phones are the most widely available form of access to ICTs in Myanmar. Household mobile phoneownership jumped from 2 percent in 2012 (ITU) to 83 percent in 2016, while those who had never used aphone decreased from 31 percent in 2015 to 9 percent in 2016. Helani Galpaya, Ayesha Zainudeen, SuthaharanPerumpalam, Gayani Hurulle, Htaike Htaike Aung, and Phyu Phyu Thi, “Mobile Phones, Internet, Information andKnowledge: Myanmar,” LIRNEasia, January 2, 2017.3The Global Libraries program of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation data dashboard has extensiveimpact data related to public-access computers at public libraries in seventeen countries. See glatlas.org.4World Economic Forum, Global Information Technology Report (Geneva: World Economic Forum, 2016).5Ericcson & Columbia University Earth Institute, ICTs & SDGs: How Information and CommunicationsTechnology Can Accelerate Action on the Sustainable Development Goals (Stockholm: Ericsson, 2016);International Telecommunications Union (ITU), Measuring the Information Society Report 2016 (Geneva: ITU,2016).1“4G mobile telephoneservices are being rolledout across [Myanmar]at a pace unmatchedin the rest of the world.This phenomenon alonecould contribute more to asuccessful transition thanany other single policyreform.”—Lex Rieffel, “Aung San Suu Kyi’sNew Government,” BrookingsInstitution, March 2016Ending the Gender Digital Divide in Myanmar: A Problem-Driven Political Economy Assessment 3

Executive SummaryThus, it is cause for concern that 3.9 billion people worldwide lack access to the internet,the keystone of the ICT ecosystem.6 This gap persists despite widespread increases inbasic availability.7 And this gap, together with interrelated disparities in digital skills, usagepatterns, and both real and perceived benefits of ICTs, is known as the digital divide. As ICTsincreasingly mediate both participation in and benefits of development processes, thosewho lack ICT access, skills, and benefits—disproportionately those who are female, rural, lowThe internet promotesinclusion, efficiency andinnovation.—Digital Dividends,World Bank 2016income, illiterate, or elderly—risk increased marginalization.8The global gender digital divide is the measurable gap between men and women inICT access, skills, and benefits as both consumers and producers of digital information,products, and services. An estimated 250 million more women than men are offlineworldwide.9 This divide is expanding globally,10 makingit imperative to improve understanding of how ICTs are becoming yet anotherbarrier, enforced through policies, practices, and norms, that limits women’sand girls’ agency and voicein arenas from civic participation and governance to education and economic opportunities.RESEARCH QUESTIONS:IREX analyzed 1) the extent to which evidence exists for gender-based differencesin access, use, and perceived benefits; and 2) awareness among key stakeholders inMyanmar of how such differences deepen gaps in digital skills acquisition and realbenefits derived from ICTs, such as improved health and educational outcomes.1Key Finding 1: Although manifestations of the gender digital divide in Myanmarare widely perceived to be normative and personal choices by women and girls,they are systemic and detrimental to women’s and girls’ full participation in orability to benefit from development processes.2Key Finding 2: Among the three components analyzed (access, skills, andbenefits), both (a) gender-based control over ICT devices and skills acquisitionand (b) lack of real and perceived benefits of ICT use are more salient to thegender digital divide in Myanmar than issues of access, for which age/rural/urbanlines are more strongly correlated.3Key Finding 3: The lack of a local focal point—whether a government agency ora high-capacity nonstate institution—to champion digital inclusion compoundslow stakeholder awareness of how the gender digital divide functions as a brakeon development.4Key Finding 4: There is more political will to accelerate integration of ICTs thanfor gender equality as a priority.“Women [in Myanmar]have the same potential asmen, but there are barriersthat women face that mendo not. For example, onlinesafety is a big challengebecause of a popularperception that womenare weaker than men—especially young women.Online harassment is moreprevalent for women,particularly on Facebook.”—Female volunteer at urban CSOITU, ICT Facts and Figures 2016 (Geneva: ITU, 2016).Ibid.McKinsey & Company, “Offline and Falling Behind: Barriers to Internet Adoption,” September 2014.9International Telecommunications Union (ITU). Connecting the Unconnected (Geneva: ITU, 2017)10The global gap grew from 11 percent in 2013 to 12 percent in 2016, with the greatest divide (31 percent) inleast developed countries (ITU, ICT Facts and Figures 2016).678Ending the Gender Digital Divide in Myanmar: A Problem-Driven Political Economy Assessment 4

Executive SummaryIREX INSIGHTAlthough it is often difficultto discern existing incentivestructures for key stakeholdersin Myanmar, efforts to close thegender digital divide will besuccessful to the extent that theycan demonstrate how narrowingthe gap contributes to progress,peace and prosperity.RecommendationsIREX employed a problem-driven PEA framework to identify likely champions andpotential spoilers of efforts to narrow the gender digital divide in Myanmar, taking intoFigure 1: The ThreeComponents of theGender Digital Divideconsideration the incentive structures, enablers, and obstacles identified during theresearch.11 Actionable rather than aspirational, both technically and politically feasible,the following recommendations represent “best fits” rather than “best practices”12 and aregrounded in a desire to optimize progress toward equitable, sustainable development inACCESSMyanmar. The recommendations flow from the key findings described above, particularlythe political expediency of harnessing economic drivers of ICT integration—an objective thatenjoys far more support than gender equality.The recommendations are organized along the three components of the gender digitaldivide: access, skills, and benefits. The icons indicate the main stakeholders are involved.SKILLSSTAKEHOLDERSGovernmentCivil SocietyPrivate SectorDonorsBENEFITS11For example, see Daniel Harris, Applied Political Economy Analysis: A Problem-Driven Framework (London:Overseas Development Institute, 2013).12Diana Cammack, Field Guide: USAID Applied Political Economy Analysis (Washington, DC: USAID, February2016).Ending the Gender Digital Divide in Myanmar: A Problem-Driven Political Economy Assessment 5

Executive SummaryEfforts to reduce barriers to meaningful access to ICT and internet for rural,based ICT coverage, not gender equality. Pragmatically, the recommendations hinge uponThe ICT Sector WorkingGroup comprisesdevelopment partners,the Government, theMyanmar ComputerFederation, MyanmarDevelopment ResourcesInstitute, Myanmar IT forDevelopment Organization(MIDO) and the MyanmarCentre for ResponsibleBusiness (MCRB).”this interest.—MCRB 2015ethnic, and very poor populations should also accommodate the specific needsand priorities of women and girls.A key finding is that access to ICTs in Myanmar at the aggregate level is more stronglyassociated with non-gender-related aspects of digital disparities such as geography and age.Lack of reliable and affordable access is primarily a barrier for the 17 percent of householdsthat do not own a phone.13 While gender-based differences in access do exist for this group,the key stakeholders currently expanding “last mile” connectivity in isolated and/or conflictaffected areas and for the very poor are incentivized to maximize territorial and population-Prioritize Equitable Access in Ongoing Infrastructure Investments: TheICT Sector Working Group should serve as a focal point to develop high-levelgovernment capacity to ensure equitable access for all, most urgently to championthe expansion of policy language in the draft Universal Service Fund (USF)strategy and draft ICT Master Plan 2016–2020 to reflect the needs of vulnerablegroups as well as underserved geographies and market segments. To this end, theWorking Group should host non-ICT-sector digital divide allies to leverage parallelinitiatives that also include (at least in part) digital access for vulnerable groups.At a minimum, this includes the Ministry of Education’s ICT Incentive Plan withinü QUICK WINThe ICT Sector Working Groupshould sponsor translation intoBurmese of the World Bank’sthe National Education Strategic Plan. UN Women could lead discussions onChecklist for the Planning, Designharmonizing priorities articulated in these documents with existing governmentand Implementation of an ICTcommitments under CEDAW.14 For example, national and internationalProject Incorporating Gendercommitments to equitable access to education and information can be translatedIssues and distribute copies tointo USF earmarks for female-friendly public-access computer venues like librariesand schools in conflict-affected and rural areas where the private sector lacksall ministerial ICT focal points.profit-based incentives.Leverage Political Momentum Behind the Peace Process: Efforts to prioritizeclosure of the gender digital divide must underscore the divide’s relevance to theadministration’s most pressing problem, thus tapping into the powerful forcesincentivized to achieve a lasting peace. Specifically, INGO and CSO advocates ofequitable development in conflict-affected areas should provide evidence-basedcase studies of the peace dividends of expanded ICT access to peace processparticipants on both sides of the table, such as ICT-related employment or TVETopportunities for demobilized combatants or women-headed households thatcontribute to a more skilled local workforce. Such benefits present win-winnegotiating points where they align local socioeconomic needs with governmentand private-sector drivers of “last mile” investments for universal coverage.According to research from 2016, 83 percent of households and 61 percent of individuals over age fifteenowned a mobile phone. Phone sharing is common within households, and women are twice as likely to use ashared device. Galpaya et al., Mobile Phones, Internet, Information and Knowledge.14The NSPAW 2016–2021 lacks both funding and an implementation plan to operationalize its objectives,making it an unlikely vehicle to make progress on closing the gender digital divide.13Ending the Gender Digital Divide in Myanmar: A Problem-Driven Political Economy Assessment 6

Executive SummaryIREX INSIGHTDigital skills are the bridgefrom passive access tomeaningful usage of ICTs thatmaximizes impact on individualsand institutions.Educators and employers must take into account the different challenges womenand girls face at each level of the digital skills pyramid.ü QUICK WINInternational non-governmentalA second key finding is that gender-based differences in individual preferences, institutionalrules, and occupational norms strongly influence both means and degree of skillsorganizations (INGOs) andcoalitions like the Myanmaracquisition in Myanmar. It is critically important to redress disparities in skills, despite theEducation Consortium shouldwidespread perception of differences as normative and personal choices: digital skillspilot low-cost educationare the bridge from passive access to ICTs (as described above) to meaningful usage thattools like open-source e-bookmaximizes derived benefits for individuals and institutions (as described in the next section).software to enable educatorsEmbed Digital Literacy into Universal Education (Bottom of the Pyramid):and activists to create easilyTo counter disproportionately superficial ICT use among females in general andreplicable, locally relevantstrong gender biases in informal skills acquisition in particular, donors and thedigital educational materials ingovernment should fully fund already planned formal and informal educationinitiatives to integrate ICTs, as articulated in the National Education Strategic Planminority languages.162016–2021 and the Public Library Master Plan 2017–2022. Priority should be givento efforts to (a) introduce appropriate tech-enabled pedagogy for low-resourceprimary and secondary classrooms through both preservice teacher training andinservice training for existing (primarily non–“digital native”) cadres; (b) reachout-of-school adolescent girls and boys through tech-savvy, gender-sensitive,informal educators and infomediaries; and (c) improve and expand mother-tongueinstruction, including multigenerational approaches such as digital storytelling, torapidly expand community-sourced materials from isolated and conflict-affectedareas with lower rates of literacy and educational attainment. It is essential for theMoE and its partners to coordinate carefully with the MoTC to align rollout of ICTAdvancedSkillsIntermediarySkillsintegration in schools with infrastructure improvements like electricity and highspeed fixed broadband to support applied learning.1615Adapted from Desiree van Welsum and Bruno Lanvin, e-Leadership Skills: Vision Report (Brussels: EuropeanCommission, 2012).16For example, see 10 Steps to Helping Communities Create Early Grade Reading Materials with Bloom,software used by public librarians in the Philippines to co-create more than a thousand new texts in locallanguages.Basic SkillsDigital Skills Pyramid in Myanmar15Ending the Gender Digital Divide in Myanmar: A Problem-Driven Political Economy Assessment 7

Executive SummaryCatalyze Potential of Early Adopters to Change Norms (Middle of thePyramid): Recent gains in women’s access to ICTs17 are tempered by theknowledge that female users remain more likely to use their devices for a narrowü QUICK WINGovernment and INGOrange of voice calls and text services. To most effectively expand the skills base ofcourses can adapt the existingsuch early adopters—and maximize their potential ripple effect on institutionalopen-source, mobile-firstrules and occupational norms—strong existing government and donor supportdigital literacy curriculum18for TVET programs should be tapped to weave a broad repertoire of digital skillsavailable in Burmese into TVETinto vocational, occupational, and professional training. Focusing on femaledominated occupations that have a high degree of contact with rural andvulnerable populations in trusted venues, such as educators, librarians, andhealth workers, will optimize the downstream impact.Support Innovation and ICT Jobs (Top of the Pyramid): Reproductive rolessignificantly limit women’s acquisition of advanced digital skills that translate intoICT-sector employment, despite their overrepresentation among graduates of bothsecondary and tertiary education. To establish a virtuous cycle of better supplymaterials used to train femaleprofessionals such as health andagricultural extension workers,civil servants, and so on, creatingrole models and organicallytransferring digital skills throughexisting public services.and increased demand, private-sector ICT firms should diversify their talent poolsby actively recruiting female staff for technical rather than administrative positions,to increase digital content, products, and services for an untapped female market.Profit motives and an industry focus on user-centered design combine to make theprivate sector a champion of this narrow component of the gender digital divide.As of 2016, 52 percent of women over age fifteen own a mobile phone, and 77 percent of these aresmartphones. Galpaya et al., Mobile Phones, Internet, Information and Knowledge.17Ending the Gender Digital Divide in Myanmar: A Problem-Driven Political Economy Assessment 8

Executive SummaryWomen are more likely to extensively use ICTs if they perceive benefits toinvesting time and resources to do so.ü QUICK WINFHI360’s Gender and ICT SurveyToolkit enables INGOs to gatherIn addition to subtle gender-based issues of access to ICTs and strong normative controlmobile-focused data on gender-at all levels of the digital skills pyramid, the research revealed that a large measure of thebased differences in user accessgender digital divide in Myanmar is due to the lack of benefits that currently accrue toand skills. The Toolkit focuseswomen users of ICTs. Hampered by very basic digital skills; a reliance on family members oron digital financial services andfriends to share devices; limited exposure to the types of information, products, and servicesmobile agriculture, but can beavailable online; and a dearth of relevant digital content by and for women to tempt them,women are more likely to report “no need” than “affordability” as the reason they do notown a mobile phone.adapted to meet a wide rangeof community needs.Align More Digital Content with Women’s Needs: Recent gender assessmentsstrongly suggest that men and women in Myanmar have different governancepriorities, with women more likely to cite health care, education, sanitation,and microfinance as pressing issues. Current donor technical assistance to theGovernment of Myanmar in support of e-governance readiness should boostwomen’s meaningful usage of ICT-enabled public services. It can achievethis through policies and programs to support e-government services in areaswomen prioritize, such as WASH, education, and income generation. For example,expediting digital security measures like e-ID can increase women’s support forand likelihood to engage in e-commerce, online microcredit, and other financialservices. Similarly, mEducation initiatives like parent-teacher communicationsusing social media or SMS can increase engagement with technology by providingconcrete benefits like timely or mother tongue information. In addition, tosupplement government efforts, private ICT firms, CSOs, and internationalnon-governmental organizations (INGOs) should work together to expand theecosystem for digital services in health, education, and agriculture, such ascrowdsourcing geodata on WASH hotspots to identify schools without safe watersupplies or adding languages and targeted content like adolescent and geriatrichealth information to existing apps like iWoman to help those most affected by thedigital divide.Ending the Gender Digital Divide in Myanma

A Problem-Driven Political Economy Assessment . Sheila Scott, Center for Applied Learning and Impact, IREX . IREX INSIGHT. Digital inclusion is fundamental to Myanmar's democratic and . it imperative to improve understanding of how ICTs are becoming yet another . barrier, enforced through policies, practices, and norms, that limits women .

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