digital gender divides and e-empowerment in the uae : a critical perspective

The phenomenal diffusion and adoption of ICTs in the UAE is widely viewed as a game changer in the country's struggle to address continuous significant gender gaps in the country. The small body of research on this topic has been, however, inconclusive, overtly optimistic, and insufficiently theorized. Addressing these lacuna, the article uses a survey covering 190 UAE students to answer the following three main questions: (Q1) To what extent have Emirati women appropriated the Internet in their everyday life?; (Q2) How do gender relations inform the use and appropriation of the Internet in the country?; and (Q3) To what extent have Emirati women, through their use of the Internet and ICTs, been empowered to bridge existing gender divide? Drawing on Kabeer's (2001; 2005) work, particularly her distinction between "active" and "transformative" agency, the article argues that while ICTs help Emirati women have better access to various resources, such as education and the job market, there is little evidence to suggest that new technologies alone enable women to alter dominant gender power relations in society.(As Provided)