Digital India through a gender lens

IT for Change
Place of publication
Date of Publication
July 2018
Number of Pages
Language of publication

This research paper by ‘IT for Change’ seeks to analyse Digital India from a gender perspective, evaluating its implications for women’s empowerment and gender equality. Digital India, as a commonplace terminology has attained the status of a boundary object: a concept that is highly plastic, allowing diverse interpretations, but still recognizable to actors from very different socio-structural locations for a certain common core. In the different discursive universes of public policy, political performance and mainstream public debate, the idea of Digital India occurs frequently. For policymakers, it is a flagship programme; for members of the political class, it is emblematic of a resurgent Indian nation that is transforming into a powerhouse in the global digital economy; while for citizens, it may be an aspirational ideal of upward social mobility or a paradigm shift in transacting with the state.

While acknowledging that Digital India represents both a bounded programmatic domain as well as a loose idea invoked by different actors, this paper defines its focus mainly to the three strategic areas of the ‘official’ Digital India programme – connectivity infrastructure, e-service delivery, and social and economic empowerment of citizens, identified in its vision. It sets out to evaluate the extent to which these key ‘outcome areas’ – ‘infrastructure as a utility to every citizen’, ‘governance and services on demand’ and ‘digital empowerment of citizens’ – integrate gender-aware and gender-responsive design perspectives and their implications for gender-transformative change.