by Namali Premawardhana
Namali Premawardhana’s op-ed based on the ITU’s Measuring the Information Society 2017 report and LIRNEasia’s own survey results has been published in Myanmar’s leading English newspaper, the Myanmar Times. Here are two of the summary paras:
Two important aspects of ICT development which the ITU does not address are women and digital literacy. Myanmar’s story of ICT access, use and skills among women and other marginalised communities is less impressive than the broader narrative. The 2016 LIRNEasia data revealed that although more women in Myanmar own a phone now than in 2015, men were 28pc more likely to own a mobile phone. In addition, nearly half of mobile handset owners require help to perform basic activities with a phone, such as installation of an app, creating logins and passwords and adjusting settings. Women reported higher reliance on support for these activities than men, especially in device-related tasks (i.e. installing apps and adjusting settings) as against information, platform and content-related tasks. If these issues are addressed, more citizens will be included in the ICT success story, and that will be reflected in the ITU index.
Despite Myanmar’s remarkable gains, there is still a long way to go. The Myanmar Communications Regulatory Commission is yet to be established, although legislation has been prepared and consultations conducted. Capacity-building within the de facto regulatory entity, the Post and Telecommunications Department, is one of the most important tasks.
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