Is the cellular phone a tool for oppression or empowerment? An innovative new campaign by Girl’sNet, a daughter project of Women’sNet aims to ensure that the cell phones are are used to empower young South African women through positive self-expression.
“The post WSIS clock is ticking and many challenges remain,” said APC executive director Anriette Esterhuysen at the opening of the twelfth session of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSDT). Among these challenges, she talked about WSIS principles related to human rights: “In many countries from the developed world and the developing world there is still a sense that freedom of information is perceived more as a threat than as an enabler, as a driver for learning and innovation and for more transparent and accountable governance.” CSDT is reviewing progress made in the implementation of and follow-up to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) outcomes at the regional and international levels.
“The IGF has embodied the WSIS Principles – that internet governance should be multilateral, transparent and democratic, with the full involvement of governments, the private sector, civil society and international organisations – in its practice as a space for policy dialogue. [...] There are however areas that need improvement. Participation of civil society, and in some cases also of developing country government and private sector stakeholders, is hampered by insufficient financial resources”, said APC in its response to the IGF 2008 review, submitted to the Secretariat.
The recent South African elections, held on April 22 2009, seem to be the most vibrant yet to grip the country. Political parties launched their manifestos and a striking issue was the absence of women’s concerns in the political parties’ agenda, in spite of the fact that women formed the majority of this years registered voters. This special edition newsletter on gender and politics by Women’sNet explores the question of women, gender and politics and will leave you wanting to read more…
In late 2007, APC members from almost forty countries and five continents met to define the strategic priorities for APC until 2012. They assessed the context faced by APC and civil society organisations using internet and other ICTs for social change. They considered trends in accessing the internet (including the role of mobile phones), in internet and information policy and regulation and in social networking and media. They also looked at other factors like climate change, which will have a huge impact on people’s lives and livelihoods. After several days of deliberation, six issues were identified as key strategic areas that APC must tackle to ensure that the internet remains free and open and that more and more people can connect to it and use it to improve their lives and create a more just world.
APC strategic priorities for 2009-12: The challenges and opportunities to using internet for social justice today
After several days of intense debate, APC members identified six issues as the key strategic areas that APC must tackle in the next five years: advocating for affordable internet access for all, ICTs and the environment, building the “information commons” , defending internet rights, critical and creative engagement of emerging technologies from a social change perspective and improving governance, especially governance of the internet. Why did APC members prioritise those six issues? What are the key challenges and opportunities that they perceive regarding the freedom of the internet and its use for social justice in the coming years?
APC member ZaMirNET has been working hard on uncovering the truth about war crimes committed during the Yugoslav wars, between 1991 and 2001. In late October, they joined an initiative to establish a regional body that will expose the truth about war crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia, which will help serve justice and guarantee that these crimes will not be repeated in the future. More recently, they have also made important headway in e-inclusion initiatives and access to public services for those who cannot see, including the launch of a new web portal for IT professionals and a general audience.
Reports indicate that violence against women (VAW) is still very much present in today’s society – one out of three women worldwide suffers from some form of gender-based violence. As part of the global campaign on “Say NO to violence against women”, APC member the Open Institute in Cambodia conducted three forums on “Reclaiming ICT to end violence against women” held from September to December 2008. Through these forums, they were able to uncover key challenges in the use of ICTs to end violence against women, and put forth a series of pertinent recommendations to be implemented in Cambodia as part of the country’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
In San Ignacio de Moxos, an area located in the Beni region of northern Bolivia, the only internet connection available was an expensive and intermittent telephone connection. Since March 2006, thanks to the local campesino centre and wireless internet, the main institutions in the area have been interconnected, so that the inhabitants can access the internet at a quarter of the price it used to cost them, connecting them to each other, the rest of the nation and the world.
South Africa is on the cusp of major broadband infrastructure roll-out. Seacom, a submarine cable initiative, will link South Africa to India and Europe by mid-2009, breaking the state monopoly and bringing down the cost of international bandwidth. And the new government isn’t ready for this, say a coalition of South Africans. So to help, they’ve put together a policy framework that could ensure that broadband develops so that all South Africans benefit and that’s been signed up to by thousands of their compatriots.
Does broadband really make a difference to economic growth? Are there other similar broadband campaigns elsewhere in Africa? The South Africa broadband campaign has answers to these questions on its campaign site:www.broadband4africa.org.za. APC has translated this essential information into French and Portuguese for our African readers and Spanish for Latin American readers fed up of paying over the odds for what’s now the basic internet connectivity required to access today’s interactive sites.
APC member, Fantsuam Foundation established the first rural community wireless internet service provider (ISP) in Nigeria in 2006. On Tuesday April 21 the ISP took a huge blow as the central communication tower was destroyed in a storm. Several buildings including the old network operation centre, a Cisco Laboratory and a neighbouring building were seriously damaged. No people were hurt. This is the second major natural disaster that Fantsuam has suffered in a few months. In August 2008, a lighting strike destroyed a large part of their power and wireless infrastructure. APC is waiting for news of how you can help Fantsuam rebuild. For now visit the IT46 site for more details.
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.