In Qatar, women can usually communicate only with men who are family members. Going to a shop is mostly off limits.

Matthew Hall, reporter, in a Sydney Morning Herald story about tech tea parties that help women in the developing world stay connected despite “cultural issues.”

In the latest example of how journalists egregiously, woefully, incorrectly report on Qatar, Hall includes the country as an example of places where women miss out on technological developments because men hold them back.

Qatar is mentioned only in the first few paragraphs of the article, mostly because female sales agents working for Vodafone do house calls here.

But the assumption behind why these agents hold tech tea parties in Qatar is just plain wrong:

“Cultural issues … come to play in a number of ways,” said Ann Mei Chang, a senior adviser for women and technology at the US State Department, and an advocate for women’s right to benefit from technology.

“Husbands or brothers or fathers are concerned that if the women and girls in their lives have access to mobile phones or the internet they will become promiscuous. So they don’t want them to have access, even though there are a lot of benefits.”

More than likely, Vodafone visits Qatari women’s homes because it’s well worth their while, not because these women can’t go out and buy themselves a nice phone (or two, or three).

The rest of the article goes on to state very real examples of countries in which women are being left behind in terms of their access to technology, a legitimate problem.

But as anyone who has spent even five minutes in a mall here can attest, Qatar – which recently launched a national women’s basketball league – is not one of those places.

Thoughts?

Credit: Photo by Omar Chatriwala

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