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Empowerment Zones? Women, Internet Cafés, and Life Transformations in Egypt


  • Deborah L. Wheeler

    (Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, United States Naval Academy, 589 McNair Road, Annapolis, Maryland, 21402-5030, USA, (410) 293-6866.)


Information technology is said to provide paths to empowerment, yet hard data about how this occurs are scant, especially concerning women's IT practices in the Middle East and North Africa. This article uses 25 interviews with female Internet café users in Cairo as a small step toward bridging this gap. In general, this study found three main empowerment narratives among females who regularly use Internet cafés in Egypt (the average number of hours online per week was 9.87 for those interviewed). The Internet is said by participants in this study to 1) increase information access/professional development, 2) expand or maintain social networks and social capital, and 3) transform social and political awareness. While this study is based on a small sample size that cannot be generalized at this stage, the analysis does reveal subtle ways in which Egyptian society is changing-one Internet-enabled person at a time. (c) 2008 by The Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Suggested Citation

  • Deborah L. Wheeler, 2008. "Empowerment Zones? Women, Internet Cafés, and Life Transformations in Egypt," Information Technologies and International Development, MIT Press, vol. 4(2), pages 89-104, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:itintd:v:4:y:2008:i:2:p:89-104

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