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SMOKE SCREENS AND PROMISES IN DIGITAL COMMUNICATION

E-Governance and Gender Inclusion of Madrid City Council Online Platforms, Spain

The Digital Restructuring of the Urban Space. MS. Urban Planning. Spring 2018

Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation. (GSAPP). Columbia University in the City of New York. Prof. Leah Meisterlin




1. INTRODUCTION


Considering e-Governance as a 21st century infrastructure, as urban planners, a main premise should be ensuring equal access for every community. Access to e-governance platforms, however, can be conceptualized at different levels ranging from a binary access non- access to digital technologies to considering the completeness or quality of the interaction. From the physical access to broadband to the impact of the device type use, accessibility to e-governance has a multiplicity of dimensions. Specifically, the interface of the online platform in charge of ensuring the citizen – government interaction can highly determine the exchanges happening.


The function of urban planner has been highly contested in planning theory (Healey, 1992). However, departing of the basis of considering the planner as a mediator in communicative approaches (Healey, 1992), we might need to acquire a larger role in the design of these online structures to ensure that the outreach of e-governance is targeting underrepresented groups. Digitizing both informative and participative platforms involves a standardization of how information is provided or collected and the premises of interactions happening. Consequently, the format that participation has to fit is generally already designed, a structure that might leave out some collectives per se. Knowledge on how to attract users and target specific audiences at the digital level (Al-Qeisi, Dennis, Alamanos, & Jayawardhena, 2014)(Seckler, Heinz, Forde, Tuch, & Opwis, 2015)(Pengnate & Sarathy, 2017)(Cai & Xu, 2011), might be useful when addressing community engagement trough digital platforms.


E-governance has been presented as a tool that can help with women empowerment and promote their engagement (Jain, 2018)(United Nations, 2010). However, ‘Ubiquitous computing and the World Wide Web were developed by predominantly male engineers. As such, a gender bias has been observed through the study of Gender Human- Computer Interaction (Gender HCI) in the area of user interface design, particularly on the Internet where a vast majority of websites are developed by men…’(Barth & Leblanc, 2012)

Consequently, I am interested in looking at the public digital platforms of a city and try to analyze their structure and content through the lenses of gender inclusion and equality in the city. Particularly, I will assess the websites of Madrid City Council, Madrid.es and decide.madrid.es My preliminary hypothesis is that, although the Government of Madrid has been publicly advocating on gender inclusion, its online platforms may not respond to this aim.


2. LITERATURE FRAMEWORK


ITC developments and e-Governance in particular have been marketed as offering a “strong potential for the empowerment of women” (Marzocchi & Bonewit, 2015). However, it is not clear if this latent capacity is being played out in the field. Multiple strategies have been designated to respond to this objective; including guaranteeing physical access to the network, ‘countering stereotyping of women in the media’, training and education programs, promoting employment of women in the sector and so on (Marzocchi & Bonewit, 2015). However, “a better understanding of all aspects and manifestations of the gender divide is essential in order to be able to prevent the adverse impact of current trends of access and use on women worldwide” (Huyer & Sikoska, 2003).

The United Nations Development Program (Hijab, 2007) has identified specific approaches that should be highlighted in order to promote gender inclusion through e-Governance. (1) Train governments to acknowledge, monitor and prevent the gender divide while understanding its empowerment and discrimination capacity. (2) Acknowledge the differences on how men and women access information through ICT and respond to that. (3) Advocate for women to study ICT (4) Include women in policy discussions regarding the sector. (5) Collect and monitor data on the “use, access and production of ICT content” to detect different impacts based on gender. (6) Support the implementation of legislation to guarantee right of access and promote programs to increase access for discriminated groups. (7) Support efforts to increase women’s presence in the workplace and make it gender responsive. (8) Support women’s groups and organizations, promote civil society groups gender analysis and monitor “government commitments on gender equality”. (9) Conduct media training for community based organizations to communicate needs and issues related with gender inequality. (10) Use e-government as an advocacy tool to provide access to information about women’s legal rights and ‘support ongoing learning’.


In addition, a significant relationship has been detected between gender and internet user experience (Ozdemir & Kilic, 2011). This has spurred a wide range of investigations on the differences in the ways women approach online platforms, from those focused on targeting specific audiences for marketing strategies to others aiming at bridging the gap in the gender digital divide or ensuring a maximum level of user experience for diverse audiences.


However, findings from this type of research are disperse. Kuhlemeier and Hemker (2007) afirm that ‘females spend less time on the computer at home, search for information on the Internet less often, and use the computer less often for games and music, on the other hand, they use the Internet more often to e-mail and to chat. Females use the Internet for communication more than males’ (Ozdemir & Kilic, 2011). Based on ‘the selectivity model proposed by Myers-Levy (1986), females are comprehensive processors, who are likely to absorb all available information before arriving at a conclusion, while males are selective processors, who count on specific and readily available information.’ (Lin & Hsieh, 2016).

One main aspect of the user experience in online platforms discussed across literature is website design. It is possible that the gender gap on the Internet is caused by differences in preferences for specific aspects of website interface design; that is, if the website interfaces are not designed to suit females, then female visitors will experience frustration and anxiety while navigating the website and thus have lower satisfaction’ (Lin & Hsieh, 2016). The connection between design and gender divide is not new, ‘In many contexts such as product design (Ehrnberger, Räsänen, Ilstedt, 2012), web design (Moss & Gunn, 2007), and computing (Friedman & Nissenbaum, 1996) gendered design is considered biased and exclusionary’ (Stonewall, Dorneich, & Stone, 2016)


When website design is analyzed from a gender perspective, studies have been aiming at responding two different kinds of questions.

(a) What women prefer when navigating a website?

(b) Which websites are perceived as feminine by the general public due to their design characteristics?


The first approach seems central when the objective is to find characteristics of the digital platforms that can be used to engage specific communities or to avoid excluding others. It could be subdivided in preferences due to (a) aesthetic reasons or (b) easiness of use and navigation of the digital platform. However, it is often difficult to draw a clear line between the two, addressed as the same in most works.


The second approach, although shallower at first glance, also deserves some attention. The association of masculine attributes to professional and feminine attributes to unprofessional goes beyond the digital sphere. Traditionally, the historic relation between men and the working environment has led to the connection of masculine traits with formal or professional. Studies have shown that this trend is also significant in website design environments, where platforms identified by the public as masculine- looking are also classified as being more professional. ‘There was a strong positive correlation between masculinity and professionalism but a strong negative correlation between femininity and professionalism.’ (Stonewall et al., 2016).


This underlying association affects the research attempting to analyze online interfaces to identify those traits that enhance the user experience for females. Often, when these studies describe differences between male and female preferences in their findings, labels as formal or professional are used to describe characteristics Moss and Gunn (2007) (Ozdemir & Kilic, 2011) (Lin & Hsieh, 2016). The use of this classification brings an intrinsic bias that renders more difficult to use the conclusions as a basis of any policy or other analysis.


In addition, most studies, while highlighting the importance of website structure and usability, end up limiting their analysis on aesthetic aspects when assessing gender online experience. Table 1 in the appendix summarizes literature findings on women preferences and feminine perceived websites.


Despite the acknowledgment of the gender divide in ICT and the importance of understanding the preferences of diverse demographic groups, the mentioned limitations imply that ‘previous research does not provide consistent information on which website attributes influence users' perceptions.’ (Al-Qeisi et al., 2014). However, there is consistent agreement that the gender of the online platform author or designer affects how the interface is perceived. ‘men had a statistically significant tendency to prefer home pages produced by men, and women to prefer home pages produced by women’ (Moss & Gunn, 2009). This brings as a consequence two main considerations. Firstly, even if current studies are not being conclusive on how to design a gender inclusive or neutral platform, a difference in preferences in confirmed. Secondly, it seems that, by increasing the participation of women in online platforms design and modifying social assumptions on the main user, the same objective could be achieved.


In this direction, in addition to aesthetic or design considerations, the content of the website can play a significant role by making services for certain types of users available. The objective would be to include them in the debate of digital technologies and promote their pivotal participation on the crafting of websites. In online platforms directed at collecting citizen’s feedback, encouraging debates or promoting collective proposals, the structure given can be used to incentivize certain topics that bring together gender and ICT technologies. As Stonewall states, ‘The challenge in creating gender neutral website designs is threefold: the majority of web designers are men, the software used to design websites points designers toward masculine design, and the user of the website is assumed to be a man’- (Stonewall et al., 2016)

3. CASE STUDY. MADRID


3.1. Spain and Madrid. e-Governance, Gender Inclusion and Participation


The Government of Spain adopted “The Digital Transformation Plan for the General Administration (GA) and the Public Agencies belonging to it (PAs) (ICT Strategy)” in 2015 among other plans and projects to expand their e-Government tools (Commission, 2016) and has been ranked among the first 10 worldwide countries top performers of e-participation (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 2016). This recent interest in increasing levels of participation and transparency highly responds to the 15-M movement in 2011, that protested “the government austerity measures and levels of corruption” (DeJohn, 2017). This context gave birth to political parties like Podemos or Ahora Madrid, that aimed to respond to this climate of social unrest by expanding community engagement.


Specifically, Madrid’s city council has recently placed a bet to both more participative approach and greater concern with gender inequality. The election of the mayor Manuela Carmena brought a radical shift in city wide policies, placing social injustice issues, inequality, battling corruption and evictions at the center of its program (Ahora Madrid, 2015). A main part of this process has been centered in the creation of diverse digital platforms to engage citizenship participation in the plans decision processes and to increase transparency standards (Area de Gobierno de Participación Ciudadana, n.d.)(Ayuntamiento de Madrid, n.d.-a)(Ayuntamiento de Madrid, n.d.-b).


3.2. Madrid.es and Decide.madrid.es


The website Madrid.es (Fig. 3) is the institutional portal for the Madrid City Council aimed at providing the citizen with information about the Council, the municipal services and the city of Madrid. While the Letter of Services for the telephonic information was approved in 2007, followed by the Offices of attention to the Citizen in 2007, the approval of the Letter of Services for the web portal was not issued until 2010. The goals of the City council for this website comprise informing about the services provided by the municipal government, together with the responsibilities and citizen’s rights derived from them, improve their quality, promote citizen’s participation, enhance transparency and display the value of participants in providing these services. (Ayuntamiento de Madrid, n.d.-b)


Decide Madrid (Fig. 8) is a more innovative platform born from the Ahora Madrid coalition in 2015 to ‘enable citizens to propose, deliberate and vote on policies for the city and ensure transparency of all government proceedings within the municipality.’ (DeJohn, 2017). ‘One of the main missions of [the platform] will be to ensure the inclusion of everyone in the participatory processes, so that all voices and wills form a part of them and no one is left out.’ (Ayuntamiento de Madrid, n.d.-b). The goals are ‘empowering citizens, promoting transparency, and fostering open government practices’ (DeJohn, 2017).

In order to fulfill those objectives, the website uses four main strategies. Firstly, the proposal section (Fig. 10), where citizens can suggest policies or projects. After a 12 months’ period, if it has gathered the required supports (1% of citizens of Madrid over 16 years of age 27,000 people), the proposal is evaluated by the City Council. Secondly, the participatory budget projects section (Fig. 11 and 12), where citizens submit more elaborated proposals tied to specific budgets and that, following specific timed phases of evaluation both through community supports gathering and City Council assessments, are implemented. Finally, the debates section (Fig. 9), which aims at creating a deliberation space to ‘promote communication and information sharing’. (DeJohn, 2017).

In order to promote representative participation of the community, a sliding range of membership permissions is applied. Registered users, who provide username, e-mail address and password, can participate in discussions, create proposals and budget projects. Basic verified users must verify residence online and they can also vote for proposals and budget projects in the initial phases. Finally, complete verified users must verify their account in person or by mail with The Citizen Assistance Office. This allows them to also vote for proposals in the finals phases (DeJohn, 2017).


Although the platform has been considered as innovative in including participative processes in the Spanish government agenda, it still has a wide range of critiques. DeJohn affirms that ‘the execution falls short in practice as, with the exception of participatory budgeting, there is no evidence that the site leads to improved decisions’. He affirms that “the hurdles that each proposal must clear are proving to be a significant obstacle” and that the ‘undeniable fact that only two proposals have even reached the final voting phase suggests a serious flaw in the system’ (DeJohn, 2017).


The website is powered through the free software Consul, which also support platforms from other administrations. Consul has publicly advertised the participation of women in the coding process and advocates for gender equality in the ICT field (Calvo, 2018).


4. APPROACH


The objective of this paper is to critically assess the interface and content of both platforms provided by the Madrid City Council through the literature framework provided on gender inclusion and e-governance. Their different characteristics demand for diverse approaches when assessing them, always considering their intrinsic connection in terms of overall functionality of the city. While the Madrid City council website is more directed to providing information and services for its citizens and, therefore, has a “top-down” approach, the Decide Madrid website has the objective of collecting citizen’s interests and proposals, with a more “grassroots” scheme.


The City council website assessment will be focused at analyzing the types of services provided, answering the following questions:

(a) Is there content directly targeted for female audiences?

(b) Are there services targeted at females? Which types of services?

(c) Is there content related with gender inclusion?

(d) Where is this content placed in the website? Is it concentrated in one spot, it is transversally situated in different topics?

(e) Are there services targeted at providing ICT access or education for women?

On the other hand, Decide Madrid assessment will aim at both evaluating the promotion of specific kinds of discussions within the platform and the citizen’s concern in gender topics. The approach aims at answering the following questions.

(a) Do women participate in the online forum? Are the authors of proposals submitted women? Do proposals submitted by male receive more support?

(b) Does the website provide specific channels of discussion for minorities (women in this case)

(c) Does the website consider the demographic background of the votes obtained?

(d) Are there any processes, proposals of participative budgeting, proposals or debates targeting issues related with gender inclusion or equality? From the government, from people?


The design aspects of the interface have been assessed within the literature framework but not regarded as conclusive due to the lack of a solid background to act as a baseline. On the other hand, special attention has been given to the presence and display of services engaging women in the digital technologies debate.


5. RESULTS


5.1. Madrid.es. Ayuntamiento de Madrid


In the website, there is a section called “Equality for women and men” (Fig. 3). It informs of services for domestic violence victims, it offers links to programs to promote women in the labor market through grants or competitions and a portion with activities and events from groups promoting equality for women. In addition, it also provides contacts with “local equality agents” (Fig. 5) and information on gender inclusion, such as links to procedures to apply for economic grants for local agencies, a list of links to regulations on gender equality (Fig. 7) and publications on the topic (Fig. 6).


The content related with gender inclusion is, in general, concentrated in this section, “Equality for women and men”, which is placed at the center of the website main page (Fig. 7). Inside it, domestic violence services are located in a prominent place. In addition, within the general Emergencies area of the website, contact information regarding services supporting victims of domestic violence is provided. Finally, news on the topic are displayed in the main page as banners, such as women’s day activities, domestic violence episodes and other events related with women empowerment.


Regarding the interface (Fig. 1-8), the website does not seem to have a clear bias towards any gender. The color use can be regarded as more masculine (less colors and darker). The font type is within those identified as gender neutral. Most illustrative pictures in the website do not display identifiable people but, when they do, there is a higher percentage of women. The language used is gender inclusive and casual within the scope of a municipal website. However, there are not any services targeted at ensuring access to ICT for women and providing education programs neither information available on the inclusion of women when creating the platform.


5.2. Decide Madrid. Decide.madrid.es


The participation of women in the debates or proposals is difficult to evaluate from an external point of view. The current system of memberships allows for people to participate with usernames that do not provide an insight of their gender. In addition, there is not any statistical data in the websites providing demographic background of the participants. The same difficulties are found to assess the authors of the proposals. The website does not provide any specific channels of discussion for minorities nor any other mechanisms aimed at encouraging the participation of minorities. The platform does not seem to consider the demographic background of the citizens submitting proposals or supporting them through votes when evaluating the proposals.


3,550 threads from the debate section (Fig. 9) were reviewed (from 09/07/2015 to 09/04/2018). 23 (0.6%) were focused on gender issues. From those, 7 demanded services to better conciliate professional and domestic life, 5 addressed issues of domestic violence and 4 criticized current municipal measures attempting gender inclusion. 72 (2%) proposals were found addressing other minority groups or citizens with special needs. 27 of them focused on refugees and immigrants, 21 on physically disabled users or accessibility issues, 15 on unemployed, 11 on elderly, 6 on homeless, 5 on LGTB collectives, 2 on mentally ill, on low income collectives and for race and religion discrimination.


3,950 citizen originated proposals (Fig. 10) were reviewed (From 05/20/2017 to 04/09/2018). 18 (0.5%) were focused on gender issues. From those, 7 of them addressed domestic violence, 3 of them sexist harassment in public spaces and 2 criticized current municipal measures attempting gender inclusion. 155 (3.9%) proposals were found addressing other minority groups or citizens with special needs. 66 of them focused on physically disabled users or accessibility issues, 34 on elderly, 19 on children, 15 on unemployed, 12 on homeless, 7 on low income collectives, and 1 for race discrimination and LGTB collectives. It is important to mention that the “Asociación Pro Democracia Participativa” was the author of a high number of proposals. Although this association aims at promoting participation through collecting citizens’ proposals by other means and then submitting them through the website, it is difficult to assess the kind of bias that super user like that can introduce. In addition, it is also interesting to mention that a very high number of proposals were focused on improving elements of the built environment.

450 participatory budgeting proposals (Fig.11) were reviewed for 2018. The total budget for this edition for the city of Madrid is 30 million euros. These proposals are currently in the phase of project evaluation (March 20 – May 7), after passing the previous phases; projects submission (January 25 – February 24), Initial review (February 26 – March 4), and supports’ phase (March 5 – March 19). 5 (1.1%) are focused on gender issues. From those, 1 of them addressed domestic violence and 1 of them sexist harassment in public spaces. In addition, 2 of them had already been presented in the section of citizen originated proposals. 59 (13%) proposals were found addressing other minority groups or citizens with special needs. 19 of them focused on physically disabled users or accessibility issues, 15 on children, 12 on homeless and low income communities, 7 on unemployed, 4 on elderly and 2 on the LGTB community.


Regarding previous editions of participatory budgeting, the results of 2017 (total budget for the city of Madrid of 24 million euros), do now have any selected proposal related with gender issues. There is 1 focusing on low income groups, 1 on refugees and 1 on people with disabilities. In this edition, there were 67,133 participants and 3,215 proposals submitted. The participation was divided fairly equally between women (50.28%) and men (49.72%). The results of the 2016 edition (total budget of 30 million euros) display one proposal asking for an increase on the number domestic violence shelters, with a support of 4316 votes (second position) and an allocated budget of 550,000€. In addition, there are 2 proposals addressing homelessness and 1 for people with disabilities. In this edition, there were 51,845 proposals submitted. The participation was divided fairly equally between women (49.13%) and men (50.87%).


Regarding the interface (Fig. 8-12), the website does not seem to have any bias either, although it has more informal elements, which could be argued as more gender inclusive than the municipal one. There are more and lighter colors being displayed and, while the main font is the same as the municipal, other fonts are introduced. There are not many images provided by the platform and, in those displayed, there is gender balance. The language used is gender inclusive and even less “formal” than the one in the municipal website. Although there is not information on the designer, the software provided is CONSUL, which has publicly claimed that two of the major engineers involved in the creation of the platform were women. There are not any specific debates on inclusion and access of digital technologies.

6. DISCUSSION


6.1. Madrid.es. Ayuntamiento de Madrid


The intentions of addressing issues of gender equality by the new Municipal Government of Madrid have delivered some results. Gender equality as a theme is placed in a prominent place of the Madrid City Council website and, therefore, publicly acknowledged as a matter the city should be concerned about and respond to. The frequent news that appear on the front page regarding gender issues also send the same public message. In addition, the interface is careful in being inclusive through the language and images used.


However, when looking in depth at the information and services provided, there are some concerning issues that could be addressed. In general, the section on gender equality is very reductive regarding the themes addressed.


Domestic violence and services to support its victims is central, taking most of the space and resources and being displayed as the most visible issue around gender discrimination. While domestic violence has been publicly recognized as a great concern in Spain - with 920 women killed by their couple from 2003 to 2017 (López, n.d.) - presenting it as the core theme within gender equality falls very short at what this concept should include. In addition, by only providing services for the victims of domestic violence, responsibility is intrinsically placed on them. The program lacks preventive measures that target the source of this problem within the society, such as education or awareness based strategies. Besides, even the services provided for victims of domestic violence could be viewed as limited, not offering public information on how to proceed when in a sensitive situation neither explaining the privacy guarantees of the communication channels provided.


The website fails at providing other services regarding gender equality. While, as it has been stated, there is specific contact information available for victims of domestic violence, there is not a parallel system for those who experienced any type of sexual assault or rape. There is not any information on how to proceed in these cases nor any educational content or explanation around issues such as sexual harassment and consent. The website does not provide contacts or information regarding planned parenthood, pregnancy or birth control. Also, the only service provided to encourage expansion of women in the workplace is a link pointing at an external grant for organizations presenting strategies that would address this. There is no mention of specific services, such as child-care, to promote work-family conciliation.


There is also a lack of statistical data that could inform Madrid’s society of the current situation on gender equity. There is no data around the percentage of women in Madrid’s workforce or the pay-gap situation. These issues have been discussed in local media, with publications being supported by specific data. Consequently, it could be easily gathered and presented within the section of gender equality.


Regarding the digital gender divide, there seems to be a general lack of acknowledgment of the issue within the City Council. There is not any monitoring of women’s access to digital technologies, neither any programs aiming at promoting it. As a consequence, there are not any municipal education programs for women in ICT or advocacy strategies to promote the study of digital technologies.

The connections and information provided about other organizations working on gender inclusion and equity fall also quite short compared with the expectations from the electoral program. In addition, the website does not display any specific affirmative action programs with specific objectives of gender inclusion, neither run by the government or by external agencies.


6.2. Decide.madrid.es


The participative municipal website can be discussed through different lenses. While it was implemented shortly after the current party won the elections, it is still a very young concept, that could be considered very innovative within the Spanish context. It is the first platform in the country that attempts at providing a tool for e-participation and it is in constant renovation and evolution.


Nevertheless, there are not specific channels or support targeting any kind of minority group or vulnerable population, including women. Citizen’s proposals and debates related with gender issues are proportionally very scarce. However, it should be mentioned that all debates around minorities and vulnerable population are present on a low proportion. This situation might be a result of lack of information on municipal competences regarding social issues and a greater easiness of citizens to conceptualize aspects of the built environment in their proposals. This could be connected with the partial and fragmented information provided by Madrid.es.


Most citizens’ debates or proposals are related with gender address domestic violence issues, which seems to mirror the Madrid.es approach. Domestic violence is understood as the major problem within gender, while other aspects are not perceived as either municipal or political competence. While there is general agreement between participants on offering services for domestic violence, other gender inclusive strategies are contested. On one hand, there are specific debates that directly criticize and demand to modify gender inclusive strategies promoted by the government. On the other side, citizens originated proposals are often censured by other participants.


6.3. Cross-cutting observations


The current party in the Madrid city council has declared its intentions to promote gender equality and inclusion. In order to do so, this issue has been placed at a central position within its online platforms. However, the assessment of both Madrid.es and Decide.madrid.es have shown a lack of conceptualization of the multiple dimensions of gender equality. The “good intentions” that can be perceived through the general interface structure, specifically through the creation of an entire section responding to this issue, fall short in real action, only scratching the surface of the topic.


While the government publicly promotes gender equality, the actual services provided do not seem succeed in addressing this issue, focusing on a certain fraction of the female population that are victims of a specific type of violence. One danger is the easiness of conceptualizing women as victims that might need special support, placing the responsibility on them and leaving women empowerment programs or education for society at large out of the equation. Moreover, by creating a section labelled as “gender equality” that only addresses issues of violence, the underlying message sent from the city council is that this is the only “problem” regarding gender inequality in the current society.


In addition, the detected connection between the information provided in Madrid.es and the type of proposals submitted in Decide.madrid.es points out two possibilities, both troublesome. Either the municipal views are highly affecting how society is envisioning gender equality and reducing its scope or both websites content is a consequence of the current social context.


7. CONCLUSION


e-Governance can be a powerful tool to address gender inequality and empower women. However, it is a double edged weapon as, by lack of completeness, it can also be sending a reductive message. While it is true that having some services might be “better than nothing”, marketing “gender equality” as a municipal concern and not delivering can also imply the inexistence of gender issues in that society. Digital technologies easiness of operation and, specially, communication, can become risky disseminators of partial information on social matters, perpetuating undesired situations.

Having a solid framework is key to create a basis from where to start building a solid strategy of municipal gender inclusion and empowerment through e-Governance. The first recommendation of the United Nations Development program on e-Governance and Gender is the departure point for any governmental strategy that aims at targeting this. ‘Train government bodies and corporations working on ICT in gender analysis to help them understand how connectivity and access to ICT have the potential to empower some, but discriminate against others.’ (Hijab, 2007). Before any service can be delivered, those in charge need to have achieved a thorough comprehension of the issue at hand and the framework from where to start building useful actions. ‘A better understanding of all aspects and manifestations of the gender divide is essential in order to be able to prevent the adverse impact of current trends of access and use on women worldwide’ (Huyer & Sikoska, 2003).


An analysis of the existent situation is needed and the first step should be sharing with the citizen’s its result. ‘Gender-sensitive governance gets the numbers right while also ensuring that governments provide services in a way that promotes the human rights of women and men’(Hijab, 2007). Shallowness in e-Governance can be a threat for other social issues. Creating a platform or a website section around a subject might give the impression that the issue at hand is being addressed, while often there is no real content inside with the website only acting as a smoke screen. Empty buckets in the digital sphere can act as an instance of political empty statements that carry as many repercussions as misinformation.


E-Governance should be careful to avoid providing biased information, either through the structure where the communication is happening or through the absence of important aspects within a social issue. The framework of digital technologies used for communicative purposed facilitates a volatility of content and lack of authorship and accountability. Their structure provides easiness for a provision of shallow instances of highly marketed impressing products. In addition, digital technologies mirror the tendency of unfulfilling promises that the political sphere has been carrying on itself for long.

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