By APCNews MONTEVIDEO, 22 July 2011
Five Take Back the Tech! campaigners were recently named among Pakistan’s most influential users of Twitter — or “Twitterati”. The Express Tribune’s “140 characters” includes politicians like former President Musharraf, celebrities, media stars and journalists, as well as influential bloggers.
In particular, the Twitterati Jehan Ara, Nighat Dad and Sana Saleem are all raising visibility of the issue of violence against women on and offline.
Jehan Ara is President of the Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT & ITES and a key partner of APC member Bytes For All in implementing APC’s Take Back the Tech! to end violence against women thirty-month initiative in Pakistan. She has been active in the global Take Back the Tech! campaign since July 2009. Jehan is also the author of the popular blog In the Line of Wire, which focuses on how ICTs relate to issues of privacy, violence against women and on social entrepreneurship.
Jehan often says “we live and breathe Take Back the Tech! – that is how passionate we are about harnessing technology to empower women. For many of us this has never been just a project. We will always be TBTT activists.”
Nighat Dad is a public prosecutor, activist and researcher. As part of APC member Bytes For All, she promotes privacy and human rights in Pakistan and advises APC on the ups and downs of Pakistan’s internet policy. Nighat attended the first APC digital storytelling workshop in Pakistan last June which trained survivors of violence against women and women’s rights campaigners. She has since become an outspoken defender of women’s rights in Pakistan (See her recent blog on her experience at a recent technical training).
Says Nighat: “As we know, social media and ICTs are great enablers, and can be empowering for women. I have absolutely no doubt that Take Back The Tech! and the overall engagement with ICTs related research was a tremendous help in making the Twitterati list.”
Sana Saleem attended the same digital storytelling workshop and, inspired by the storytelling technique she had learned, she went on to found Gawaahi.com after winning seed funding from the Take Back the Tech! small grants fund — a fund which has disbursed over a quarter of a million dollars to violence against women initiatives in twelve countries.
Using the digital story method, Gawaahi is a space for abused women to share their stories of survival and courage through digital media, and was recently registered as an NGO. Sana also blogs for The Guardian, Dawn.com and Global Voices, and recently won an award for Best Activist Blogger at the Pakistan Blog Awards.
Two other Take Back the Tech! campaigners are also part of Pakistan’s Twitterati: Farieha Aziz, a journalist and assistant editor at Newsline; and Fariha Akhtar, a software engineer and blogger.
Thanks to the MDG3 funding, APC has been able to bring together communications rights activists like Nighat and Jehan to offer training to women’s rights advocates through the Feminist Tech Exchanges. Further, the small grants given to activists have allowed innovators like Sana to make bold ideas like Gawaahi.com a reality. Without the support of the MDG3 project which was supported by the Dutch government, many of these important lifelines would not be possible.