In more ways than one, ICTs do help to harm women
GOA, INDIA, 10 May 2005
Jaclyn Kee and Lenka Simerska of APC WNSP (Association for Progressive Communications’ Women’s Networking Support Programme) have announced an online discussion on ‘Cultivating Violence Through Technology?’
This online discussion runs from May 23 to June 12, 2005. Themes for discussion will be (May 23-29): Harmful representations of women in ICTs, censorship and internet governance. (May 30-June 5): VAW, ICTs and Global Policy Processes (BPFA, CEDAW, WSIS Declaration etc) — seeing the gaps, making the connections. (June 6-12): Strategies for the future.
APC WNSP is a global network of women who support women networking for social change and women’s empowerment, through the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs).
WNSP promotes gender equality in the design, development, implementation, access to and use of ICTs and in the policy decisions and frameworks that regulate them. It is part of the Association for Progressive Communications (APC), an international network of civil society organizations dedicated to empowering and supporting groups and individuals working for sustainable development and social justice, through the strategic use ICTs, including the internet.
This two-week event will look at the vital issue of Violence Against Women (VAW) and the role played by Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).
Explaining the relevance of the event, Kee and Simerska said: "Women largely being in the poorest sections of community are much affected with regards to the issue of access to infrastucture, skills and information communities, particularly in new ICTs. Content and development of the technology also mainly rests in the hands of men. Apart from that, ICTs play a large role in the development and
dissemination of culture. This ties in with the issue of sexist and mysogynistic content which enable the perpetuation of violence against women."
This online discussion is open to those interested in the interface between VAW (violence against women) and ICTs (information and communication technologies). It aims to share the "views, experiences, knowledge and concerns" of participants.
This discussion will be moderated by the Association of Progressive Communications, Women’s Networking Support Programme (APC WNSP, http://www.apcwomen.org) and will be for a period of two weeks.
Said Kee and Simerska: "APC WNSP is in the process of writing a paper that explores the connections between ICTs and VAW. The paper was presented at an NGO side event at the recent Beijing + 10 process conducted at the 49th Commission on the Status of Women in New York."
Incidentally, the first draft of this paper, titled "Cultivating Violence Through Technology? Exploring the connections between ICTs and Violence against Women" is available for download at http://www.genderit.org/upload/ad6d215b74e2a8613f0cf5416c9f3865/VAW_ICT_…
Organisers of this online discussion say they plan to "continue the dialogue" that began at the event, and to "further explore some of the concerns that were raised".
The outcome of the online discussion is expected to feed into the paper, as well as inform both our collective advocacy on Violence Against Women issues, as well as those related to information and communications technologies.
"We hope that a women’ movement agenda relating to these connected issues can be shaped," said Kee and Simerska, while makign the announcement via one of the many APC mailing lists — http://lists.apc.org/mailman/listinfo/apcteam
Women campaigners point out that in the recent World Summit on Information Society (WSIS), gender was "very nearly dropped out of the language" in the declaration.
Their perception is that multi-national profit driven companies were given the edge in setting the agenda and powerful governments in the economic ‘North’ are facilitating this imbalance of power.
See an overview in the Bridge ICT & Gender Pack:
Now that we are in the process of preparing for Phase II of this Summit, to be held in Tunis later this year (http://www.itu.int/wsis/), it becomes all the more urgent that gender and how ICTs impact on womens’ rights issues are rendered visible and vocalised as a concern, said the announcement.
What’s more, the recent 49th CSW that sought to reaffirm and reassess the Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA) was conspicuously silent on the issue of women and the media.
Section J of the BPFA, which deals with women’s participation in the media and issues of representation, was not highlighted in the discussions prior to or indeed, rendered visible during the event. "This demonstrates a worrying lack of political consciousness or will to view communication and information rights as urgent and crticial issues for the womens’ movement," wrote Kee and Simerska.
"We call for your participation to create a collective understanding to this issue, from the particular perspective of violence against women, and also to strategise for actions that can be taken. APC WNSP is actively engaged with policy advocacy in the field of ICTs, and your views, expertise and experience are important to mutually enrich each others’ work in addressing women’s rights," they said.
This event is to discuss harmful representations of women in ICTs, censorship and Interent governance; violence against women, ICTs and the global policy processes (including BPFA, CEDAW, the WSIS Declaration, etc) and how to trace the gaps and build connections; and finally plan for strategies fro the future.
Outcomes of the discussions are to be summarised thematically, and posted on www.genderIT.org, a site by APC WNSP that addresses gender and ICT policy issues, under the section of "Feminist Talk".
To participate in the email discussion, send an email to Lenka Simerska firstname.lastname@example.org To view the summary of the discussions and post your comment on the themes, visit the www.genderIT.org’s Feminist talk section: http://www.genderit.org/en/index.shtml?apcf—e—1
This is to be the first online discussion on the issue paper on violence agaist women. "We are testing a method of running a mailing list for a few weeks and summarize on the web," said the event organisers.
More details at the GenderIT site: http://www.genderit.org/en/index.shtml?apc=—-e—1&x=91342