Inclusion in ICT Regulation - better services for all
While inclusion is often perceived as focusing on groups or populations that are facing specific and particular challenges often results in improving services for all with a feedback loop between groups with special needs and large parts of the “general” population.
Gender and inclusion are important not only because they focus on groups that need additional support to access services but also because this raises the quality of service and accessibility for all. Just as lowering curbs in the street make it easier for people who use wheel chairs to get around in the cities, these changes make it easier for parents with strollers and people who have difficulty walking due to an injury or old age.
In round 2017B ZICTA of Zambia initiated the Change Initiative Addressing Emerging Consumer Issues Affecting Targeted groups which was focused further to a research study of online risks for women and girls. This study resulted in a comprehensive report that evaluated the gender gaps in access and use of ICTs in Zambia. It is very common that Change Initiative projects adjust scope and focus during the Sweden phase. As project teams learn of experiences from Sweden and Regional Regulatory Organisations the project plans are often slimmed down and focused on specific groups or goals.
The investigation of disparities in ICT use, or the challenges that a particular group faces was the first step in a process that has continued to evolve and bear fruit. The report became the empirical foundation for ZICTA’s work with gender and inclusion, for example establishment of ICT Hubs for Women and Girls in 3 rural locations in Zambia and the development of a National Gender and ICT strategy.
The investigation of disparities in ICT use, or the challenges that a particular group faces was the first step in a process that has continued to evolve and bear fruit. The report became the empirical foundation for ZICTA’s work with gender and inclusion
Another result is that ZICTA together with Ministry of Transport and Communication, the Ministry of Gender and the NGO Cyber Hygiene Zambia carried out an eleven-day sensitisation campaign against cyber bullying, fake news, online rumours and general Internet abuse.
Tackling Online Gender Based Violence against women became the starting point for a broader campaign that tackles much wider issues that impact society and democratic space in Zambia as a whole. Cyber bullying and misinformation effects everyone either directly and indirectly. This is an excellent example of when and initiative that aimed on a particularly vulnerable end up having wider benefits for society.
Another Change Initiative project focused on inclusion that was initiated with a research or investigative phase was the POTRAZ CI project ICTs for people living with disabilities which aimed to include people with special needs and bridge the divide between this group and the general population. The approach was less general and aimed to find out if and how ICTs could improve quality of life and inclusion for people with special needs.
In comparison to the ZICTA project described above, that went from a more general approach to inclusion to a more focused implementation focused on gender which in turn gave more generalised benefits, the POTRAZ project was initially conceptualised targeting a narrower group but was widened from 2 to 39 organisations that focus on groups with special needs. As a result, POTRAZ supported a number of institutions with ICT hardware and software to meet needs identified by the survey.
Collaboration with external stakeholders is another important part of the regulatory process and finding cross cutting topics themes and issues, like gender, inclusion of groups with special needs is an excellent way to build contact points and collaborations across agency and even ministerial boundaries. Better connection and collaboration to other governmental and non-governmental entities.
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Here are some of the videos published by ZICTA as part of the awareness campaigns