• Jan 1, 1942
    (b.) - ?

Bio/Description

A pioneer of networking and development information and electronic communications in Africa, spurring the Pan African Development Information System (PADIS) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) from 1987 until 1997. She played a role in facilitating the Association for Progressive Communications' work to enable email connectivity in more than 10 countries during the early 1990s, before full Internet connectivity became a reality in most of Africa. She has been instrumental in helping raise global awareness of issues related to gender and information technology and development. A feminist, it wasn’t until she started undergraduate studies at Brandeis University, in Boston, in the early sixties that she was faced with sexist bias, which was quite a shock to her. Girls in her family had never been given second-class treatment. Luckily, she found a woman professor, Ruth Morgenthau, who became her mentor, encouraging her to follow her interests in Africa and get involved with African studies. As this was a relatively new field, it had not yet been overrun by men; on the contrary, there were a great number of young women working in the area. She moved to Ethiopia in 1975 after completing her Ph.D. in African History and marrying Berhanu Abebe, an Ethiopian man she met in the U.S. during her undergraduate studies. Abebe was eager to return to his country and help build an equitable new order. She immediately started working at the African Training and Research Center for Women (ATRCW) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in Addis Ababa. This was the first international program for women in development. For her, it was only the beginning of a long and active career. In 2006 she co-edited “Cinderella or Cyberella?: Empowering Women in the Knowledge Society”, published in 2006. This is a collection of essays discussing ways that information and communications technologies empower women. Most recently she contributed the chapter on gender issues to the World Web Foundation volume edited by George Sadowsky, “Accelerating Development Using the Web: Empowering Poor and Marginalized Populations.” The APC (headquarters in Johannesburg) established the annual Nancy Hafkin Prize for innovation in information technology in Africa which recognizes outstanding initiatives using information and communications technology (ICTs) for development. In 2012, after more than 30 years of working to promote information and communications technology in Africa, she was inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame by the Internet Society. In an interview with APCNews, she shares the history of her work and that of communications technology in Africa, her interest in Africa, obstacles and achievements. Nancy currently lives in Framingham, Massachusetts.
  • Date of Birth:

    Jan 1, 1942
  • Gender:

    Male
  • Noted For:

    A pioneer and innovator in the area of networking, development information, and electronic communications in Africa
  • Category of Achievement:

  • More Info: