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Abstract

This paper considers the potential role of various transformative general-purpose technologies in affecting gender equity. The particular technologies considered at length and contrasted are four network technologies: electricity and water provision on the one hand, and the newer information and communications technologies of the Internet and mobile phones on the other. Available evidence on the effects of transformative technologies, both historically and in recent developing country contexts, is surveyed. The results indicate difficulties in finding cleanly measurable factors due to the complex nature of the effects of the technologies, as well as the containment of many effects in the household/nonmarket sector rather than the market sector. However, there is some optimism regarding continued expansion of electrification and the use of mobile phones in particular for improving women’s empowerment.

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