“Opening up access to knowledge is a demand of global justice; it is both a human rights issue and a crucial factor in spurring economic development and technological innovation,” said Yale Law School Professor Jack Balkin, who together with the APC and other institutions are currently discussing these issues at Yale University over 11 and 12 of February.
In India’s rural e-governance initiative, 33% of local government seats are reserved for women. Rural village heads of Chhattisgarh State – one of India’s poorest— can now participate in the public process and in theory remotely communicate the needs of their villages through the use of a low-cost computer that does not require computer literacy. But women are not taking the active roles that were expected. Using GEM, APC’s gender evaluation methodology, Dr. Anupama Saxena and her team are finding out why winning an electoral seat does not necessarily guarantee that your voice is heard within the governance system if you are a woman.
In Nigeria, a small radio association is using theatre to teach rural populations practical skills like how to how to obtain small loans, and also discusses issues related to gender inequality. Thanks to a small grant by the Gender and Agriculture in the Information Society (GenARDIS) initiative, the project called Majalisar Mata Manoma has come a long way from being a simple radio programme. It is about meeting spaces for women farmers, connecting radio and mobile phones too.
From 25 November to 10 December, the message came across loud and clear – whether it was via audiocast in Malaysia, chat relay in Brazil, protest march in Second Life, song-writing in Pakistan, calendars in Argentina, tweets in Mexico, posters in cybercafes in the Congo, or a mural on the streets of Soweto in South Africa. In over a dozen languages and through all platforms and medium both online and off, people took control of technology to end violence against women during the Take Back the Tech! campaign.
A video showing President Asif Ali Zardari losing his temper in a public speech was recently censored in Pakistan. Bytes for All and its members vehemently condemn the Government’s block on YouTube and considers it yet another attack on civil liberties and free speech in the country.
With the goal to create awareness about Information and Communication Technologies and Violence Against Women in cyber space, and the implications of various government policies on women, a seminar titled “ICTs and Violence Against Women – Policy Implications” was jointly organized by Bytes for All (B4A) and the Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT & ITES (P@SHA) on 30 January 2010 in Lahore. The event attracted about 85 representatives from legal community belonging to different law chambers, some human rights activists, media, academia and concerned citizens.
South Korean communication media training and education centre MediAct is in danger of being shut down by the conservative government in Korea. This democratic centre has played a key role in democratising Korea’s media since the end of the dictatorship and has trained thousands of people on media production as well as developing many policy proposals that have changed Korea’s mediascape. Immediate international support is vital to keeping MediAct open. Please sign the petition or read on to find out more about MediAct and other ways to show your support.
In rural Uganda, telecentres that have been established to promote rural access to information and foster development are not getting the results they had hoped for. Using the APC WNSP’s Gender Evaluation Methodology (GEM) to understand why this is so, UgaBYTES, a Uganda-based NGO that works to promote access to ICTs in rural East Africa, has found that beyond the common obstacles to access like technical infrastructure, connection costs and computer literacy, women face numerous additional barriers if they want to use ICTs to improve their lives.
2010 promises to be a significant year for the future of the internet with a number of potential changes on the horizon. It could be the last year of existence for the Internet Governance Forum and ICANN is confronting big changes as it moves out from under the control of the US government. In this time of flux, policy windows can open and close quickly. APC is building a worldwide network of civil society policy advocates from different spheres of policy work and with diverse campaigning experiences who all have a vested interest in ensuring that the internet is free and open.
Following the impact of Global Information Society Watch 2009 which put the spotlight on “access to knowledge for advancing democracy and human rights”, the University of Yale has invited GISWatch co-publisher APC to co-convene their fourth Access to Knowledge Conference. The conference organised by Yale’s information society project will unite scholars and human rights activists to look at designing laws, policies and technical architectures to promote “social progress across the globe”. Find out more about the conference.
In Cameroon, internet and telephone services are unaffordable – to the extent that at least half of the population has to resort to illegal operators, which are the only ones to make services like the internet affordable to the average Cameroonian.
Digital Empowerment Foundation of New Delhi has a wealth of experience in digital empowerment for women, children, and rural communities in India. The non-profit founded in 2003 by a former software company owner was created to bridge the digital divide between rural and urban India. Partnering with other organisations and government agencies, APC’s newest member has made a name for itself by making a big difference in small rural communities.
Dominican Republic guarantees women's equality in technology initiatives and policies across the country
The Dominican Republic is the first Latin American country to act on their commitments to involve women in the information society nationwide. This Caribbean island nation of ten million has promised to include a “gender perspective” in every information and communications technology initiative and policy developed by the government from now on. “This is great news for women’s equality in the Dominican Republic,” said APC’s Dafne Plou who trained government officials in November. “And it’s potentially a breakthrough for millions of other women in Latin America because the Dominican Republic is leading Latin American governments’ thinking around gender and technology as part of the regional eLAC2010 plan”. The tool the Dominicans have chosen to design and evaluate all the public policies is the APC gender evaluation methodology (GEM).
Studies reveal that the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) makes up 2% of all global emissions – the same amount as the airline industry. By 2012, 4.5 billion people will have access to a mobile phone – the majority will be those live on less than USD 2 a day and be the most likely to be affected by climate change. “Planting the Knowledge Seed – Adapting to climate change using ICTs”, a publication from the Building Communication Opportunities alliance, explores the practical linkages between climate change, access to and sharing of information and knowledge and communication for development.
Today hundreds of people will march through Montreal in support of APC member Alternatives – a non-profit organisation which has helped thousands of people living in some of the most difficult situations in the world. Alternatives has come under attack from the right-wing Conservative government in Canada and it is rumoured faces savage funding cuts which could threaten its existence. Join the Facebook campaign to Save Alternatives and send your letters of support.
It’s not easy to find the funds to get to the remote five-star locations the Internet Governance Forum thrives in. Women, people of colour, people with disabilities, indigenous people, poor people were conspicous in their abscence or low numbers. The IGF has no decision-making authority. However, there are few international policy fora where you can participate without having to slash through a forest of red tape and protocol. And decision-power or not, the IGF does have an impact on how the internet is run through the persuasive power of multistakeholder dialogue. Jac sm Kee sums up the IGF.
This year the fourth internet governance forum was playing it safe – perhaps because next year could be its last – but we still saw real progress. Privacy no longer plays second fiddle to security, people’s rights online are recognised as central by all sides. Social networking was the new star centre stage. There are still too few women and people of colour but participants are getting younger which is a good sign. Next year APC hopes for an IGF focusing on development and human rights and looking to the future. Read our assessment (in pdf).
Our worlds are increasingly networked and our personal data collected left, right and centre. Ask anyone who has to use a biometric identity card like Malaysian Jac sm Kee who has to give her ID number even if she’s just buying movie tickets online. We can be sure much of the information collected about us online is not that securely warehoused. So what needs to be done to protect our right to privacy online? And what about our own circle? If a boyfriend broadcasts an intimate photo via mobile phone, what then? Jac argues that in the digital age, personal data is no longer just our property, it has become part of who we are. What will be key in the future will be for us to have as much control as possible over our personal data — and that control should be based on “consent” rather than “protection of privacy”.
Research coming out of the UK shows that British children are blasé about putting sexy images of themselves online. But some adults in governments and industry are intent on seeing children as victims where sexuality and the internet is concerned. Why on earth aren’t the powers-that-be actually listening to kids? asks Maya Ganesh reporting from the IGF.