IT for Change (ITfC) was part of a seminar at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, organised by the BRIDGE team, on Gender and Governance on May 1, 2009. Anita Gurumurthy represented ITfC on a panel with Andrea Cornwall and Henry Amass. The discussion focussed on the emerging complexities in the participatory development debate. Gurumurthy examined the e-governance discourse from the cornerstone concepts of citizenship, participation and institutional accountability.
The e-governance domain is significant to women's rights and citizenship in many ways. It comprises the new terrain through which institutional responsiveness and accountability are redefined for poor women; it is the methodology underpinning new spaces for representation of citizen voices in governance; it is in its dominant form a backdoor into the privatisation of public services and hence a hidden threat for women's agency. As new technologies bring new opportunities to reconfigure weak institutions in developing countries, the core question that needs to be asked is - where are the marginalised people and women in this realignment? How is public policy directing change such that the democratising potential of ICTs can be realised for accountable governance, social inclusion and deepening democracy?