The cellphone gender divide: analysis of the uses and gratifications of the cellphone among the Kiandutu slum women residents, Thika, Kiambu County in Kenya
The purpose of this study is to investigate the uses and gratifications of the mobile phone by slum women of Kiandutu and to determine whether this communication device contributes to the gender divide there. The study was conducted in Kiandutu slums, Thika, Kiambu County. Using both quantitative and qualitative methods the study used the survey approach to collect data through questionnaires which were distributed to 100 respondents. Critical Theory paradigm was used for the study. The study was also guided by the uses and gratification theory to understand the needs and gratifications of the slum women. The research design was descriptive and the data analysis method used in the study was the thematic analysis method. The findings of the study revealed that although women in Kiandutu slums do have mobile phones there is a gender divide. The women use them mainly for calling and some little fmancial transactions as well as short message service. The access to phones is low and the women do not entirely understand how to use them. The women therefore cannot fully benefit from the wide array of features offered on the phone and therefore their gratification is poor. Reasons for this include poverty, low literacy levels, and apathy towards the mobile phones due to feelings that this device is suited and meant more for the men. It can as a result be concluded that unsatisfactory access, use and benefit from the mobile phones in Kiandutu slum is a contributory factor to the gender divide. Solutions to this challenge could be for the relevant government ministries and the various development bodies to avail training, cheap loans to women groups and individuals in respect to mobile phones. Telecentres or mobile phone booths could also be set up. Women must be empowered in order to be equal partners in communication to reduce the gender divide. More research is also needed on this subject to fill the existing literature gap.