Women in Africa may be accessing the internet, but are they getting the information they need? Whether they are students, members of civil society, leaders of indigenous communities or women and youth affected by HIV/AIDS, patents and copyrights are making it increasingly difficult for women in Africa to access the information they need. This edition of Gender Centred, a periodic bulletin produced by APC's programme for the GenderIT.org policy site, focuses on the challenges copyright and the lack of information exchange bring to those who need it most, and explores the different issues surrounding open source software, copyright and rights to information.
In the past decade, a new type of environmental threat has begun to appear on the radar: e-waste. Well-intentioned citizens from Europe and North America have been happily handing over their used electronic goods to be recycled or resold; however, these items often end up in electronic landfills, such as the one featured in this short CNN documentary. Organisations like APC member Computer Aid International work to help quality and functional second-hand electronics make their way to schools and IT training centres in emerging economies, like the Iya Abubakar Resource Center in Nigeria. CNN’s Christian Purefoy explores the growing problem of e-waste and how organisations like Computer Aid are taking this “waste” and helping empower students, businessmen and women in the countries most affected by e-waste.
Can Facebook and YouTube help the poor tackle their pressing problems? Or is this promise just hype? One is faced with tough questions: Can “Web 2.0 tools” directly influence the poor themselves? Can those interested in poverty work do better to start with the “situation” rather than the “technology”? Or should one think big and dream of a network of networks encompassing a billion children and their teachers, families and friends — nearly all of the poor people in the world, and most of the rich? BytesForAll co-founder and journalist Frederick Noronha takes a look at the issue.
“Training in ICT skills gets the community to start thinking differently and to consider the sources of income available to them more clearly. From a commercial standpoint, they become aware of the fact that their products have to meet certain standards of quality in order to be sold at higher prices,” says Aura Elena Plaza from Villa Paz, an Afro-Colombian community in the Cali region. Dafne Plou reports for APCNews on her first-hand experience of the impact access to information has had on the lives of people in remote villages in Mali, Africa and Cali, Colombia.
Representatives from 29 different African parliaments met last week in Kigali to reaffirm that “equitable access to information is a right for all” and urge governments to enact laws that promote access to information, knowledge and communication for all citizens. Traditionally seen as civil and political rights, information rights are now becoming acknowledged as rights that are also social and economic, said APC’s Anriette Esterhuysen in her presentation which was framed by APC’s internet rights charter. The charter has just been translated into its twentieth language, Esperanto.
APC women’s Feminist Tech Exchange (FTX) is training a key group of women’s rights advocates particularly those living in the developing world in essential internet, audio and other technical skills to enable them to use technology to most effectively document abuses, build knowledge, disseminate information, mobilise support and amplify pressures for change.
What are some of the most important challenges South African NGOs face in their communication and networking efforts? According to SANGONeT’s IT Programme Officer Botswang Kgeledi, limited ICT resources and knowledge are among the biggest challenges to effective communication and networking. Hear more about how SANGONeT is capacitating civil society with new tools to learn to make the most of these resources, in an interview by Frederick Noronha.
One hundred institutions in rural areas of Paraguay with access to the internet. Poor indigenous communities experiencing contact with the world beyond their local surroundings for the first time ever. These are just a few snapshots of the outcomes achieved by Oportunet, a project launched in 2007 in Paraguay that has demonstrated the potential of the internet as a door to economic and social development in the poorest communities.
Late 2008, Open Spectrum Australia (a kind of ‘think tank’ for community media) decided to bring together community media groups from both platforms to discuss the issue of media convergence. In order to provide a focus for the day, we came up with an information rights ‘campaign’ of our own and asked for feedback. This article reports on outcomes of the symposium, Quality/Control .
South African tech site, ITWeb, interviews APC’s Willie Currie on the forum being convened by APC and SANGONeT along with South Africa Connect and the Shuttleworth Foundation with the aim of drawing up a framework for a national broadband strategy.
The APC women’s programme looks at the current climate internationally regarding “harmful content” on the internet and explains the raison d’etre of their current exploration into the world of sexuality online.
Innovative micro-docs series produced by apc.au / Toy Satellite in association with Rengah Sarawak seeks support towards its completion. Sarawak Gone explores four remote Bidayuh communities accessible by foot within an hour’s drive from Kuching, capital city of Sarawak, Malaysia.
Facebook is not just a way to get back in touch with old classmates from school or see what your “friends” are up to. Activists around the world are taking advantage of this new virtual space to expand their reach and establish more immediate and interactive contact with individuals and organisations from an ever wider range of backgrounds. ITeM, an APC member in Uruguay, talked with APCNoticias about how it is using this web-based tool, and shared some practical advice for others who are experimenting with social networks and other Web 2.0 tools.
In the recent years, APC’s francophone community has grown significantly, and with this growth also came an interest for Gender Evaluations Method (GEM) training in French. Requests for the workshop have not gone unheard, and the GEM Francophone Workshop, co-organised by the Women’s Networking Support Programme (WNSP), APC-Africa-Women (AAW) and Afriklinks officially began today in Bamako, Mali. The small group of fifteen people is comprised of participants from all over Africa, including two GenARDIS grantees. The workshop, which is coordinated and facilitated by APC’s Dafhne Plou and Sylvie Niombo, aims to build capacities in gender evaluation, integrating a GEM practice in Africa, and other challenges related to gender and ICTs in Africa. Additional information and impressions can be found on the Afriklinks webiste (in French).
APC member Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) has been running satellite ground stations in its community of Entasopia, Kenya, as part of a project that has recently been featured in the International Herald Tribune and reprinted in the New York Times. In November 2008, three engineers from the University of Michigan (USA) set off to Kenya, to install a small solar-powered satellite dish to connect a few computers in the community. Chris Nicholson of the International Herald Tribune reports on the project and explores how this new connection has changed life in the community: “When Internet connections arrive in small towns like Entasopia, they put new tools into the hands of people hungry to use them, and for some there, that has had wide repercussions.” Read the article
The Family Alliance for Development and Cooperation (FADECO) has come a long way since 1993, when Joseph Sekiku and friends formed an alliance to help overcome poverty in north-western Tanzania. Starting as a network of people sharing an internet connection, the small telecentre eventually became a computer literacy training station, an internet café, and has expanded to an informative radio station reaching two million listeners, many of whom are farmers. Radio France International interviewed Joseph after his story was featured in an APC study called Unbounded possibilities: Observations on sustaining rural ICTs. Listen to the interview (off-site).
Back in 2007, when APC members and staff got together to translate and print the APC internet rights charter in twenty languages, campaigners in Asian countries in particular pointed out that information about information and communications technologies (ICT) is usually only available in English. “In Pakistan, not even the government provides basic ICT policy information in Urdu,” Bytes for All’s Shahzad Ahmad told APC. Now APC’s latest annual report is available in Urdu, a language spoken by 265 million people. Shahzad Ahmad talked to APCNews about the importance of this publication in his part of the world.
Carlos Afonso, Executive director of APC member Information Network for the Third Sector (RITS), has recently been awarded the ARede 2008 award for digital inclusion. Carlos was named Personality of the Year, for his dedication to promoting social inclusion through the internet.
APC member Open Institute in Cambodia was recently involved in a forum dedicated to ending violence against women. The “Women Forums on reclaiming ICTs to end violence against women” was held on December 26th and united over 120 individuals from the government and non-profit sector. Together, they discussed the vital role of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in helping build awareness regarding violence against women.