CHAKULA Issue # 2: Gender and ICT policy-making in Africa

GENDER AND ICT POLICY-MAKING IN AFRICA

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Contents:

1. Action Alert: Zimbabwe’s Radio Voice of the People Bombed
2. Gender-focussed ICT policy making in Africa
3. Women using ICTs to advance gender equality in Africa
4. Interview: The Internet – Working for Women in Africa
5. World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS): Gender caucus update
6. Announcements

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1. Action Alert: Zimbabwe’s Radio Voice of the People Bombed ­ Assistance Required

The World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC) Africa condemns the bombing of Radio Voice of the People (VOP) offices in Harare, Zimbabwe on Thursday August 29, 2002.

Zimbabwe Republic Police say that two armed men stormed the premises between 1am and 2am on Thursday morning, chased away the security guard and threw bombs into the offices which are housed in a low density residential suburb in Harare. Although no-one was injured in the attack, the organisation lost all its property including equipment. Voice of the People board member, Sarah Chiumbu, said today that the staff has agreed to continue working despite the circumstances. Voice of the People is appealing for assistance in fundraising for equipment.

Voice of the People can be contacted through VOP director John Masuku on +263 (91) 308 052 or voxpop [at] zol [dot] co [dot] za

For more information, go to: http://africa.rights.apc.org/alerts-content.shtml?x=6632

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2. Gender-focussed ICT policy making in Africa

ICTs have enormous potential to benefit girls and women in terms of enhanced income-generation opportunities, employment, and improved quality of life, but because technologies are not gender neutral, it is important to advocate for ICT strategies to reduce and manage the potential for ICTs to create economic and social exclusion and reinforce existing social disparities.’ — Gender activist, Gillian Marcelle, in her chapter, ‘Getting Gender into African ICT Policy: A Strategic View’ which appears in the book ‘Gender and the Information Revolution in Africa’ (IDRC,2000).

Marcelle believes that the inclusion of the gender dimension into national ICT policies has been the missing element in ICT policy formulation in the past. She has developed a set of recommendations for key actors involved in the process of policy formulation and implementation that determines the points at which gender issues can be inserted into the policy debate.

African civil society is identified as a key actor in the section, ‘Recommendations for key actors in ICT policy formulation and implementation’. She notes that this is the sector that has a major role to play in setting the agenda for policy development.

Marcelle notes that the first step in bringing about the desired changes would be to define an agenda of interventions that African women and their allies can use to make a gender-balanced information society a reality in Africa. She presents an agenda for this transformation, organising key actions as follows:

  • Focussed public-policy intervention;
  • Allocate ICT development resources to women;
  • Provide and improve telecommunications infrastructure;
  • Build technological capability (the human-resource component);
  • Facilitate and encourage the involvement of women in technological innovation;
  • Create culturally resonant content;
  • Design and deliver appropriate training mechanisms;
  • and Increase effective demand for ICT products and services.

Access this chapter and other interesting African gender policy resources

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3. Women using ICTs to advance gender equality in Africa

We’ve created an annotated list of a selection of women’s organisations using information and communication technologies (ICTs) as tools to network and share information to advance gender equality in Africa:

Africa: APC-Africa-Women

APC-Africa-Women is a network of organisations and individuals that work
to empower African women’s organisations to access and use ICTs for
equality and development. APC-Africa-Women is the Africa regional
programme of APC’s Women’s Networking Support Programme (APC WNSP).

Africa: African Women’s Development and Communications Network

The objectives of FEMNET are (1) to strengthen the role and contribution of African non governmental organisations (NGOs) concerned with women’s development; (2) to create a channel through which these NGOs can reach each other and share ideas, knowledge and experiences geared towards improving the condition of African women; (3) to maintain close working relationships and foster partnership directly or indirectly with governments, United Nations agencies, the African Union and other bodies with objectives similar to those of the network; and (4) to publicise the network’s activities and services through publications, awards, exhibitions and the mass media.

East Africa: East African Media Women Association

In the past, women’s media associations from Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, Mauritius, Madagascar, Seychelles, Somalia, Kenya, Comoros, Eritrea, Rwanda, Burundi and Malawi have used seminars, advocacy and lobbying to raise awareness on issues that affect women in the region such as poverty, peace, education and HIV/AIDS. The East Africa Media Women Association helps members’ associations to network and explore the potential of ICTs, particularly the Internet, by creating linkages between the mass media and gender activists in a variety of fields.

Africa: Flame/Flamme

Although this discussion list is not active at the moment, the Flamme site is a good resource on United Nations activities in Africa related to the struggle for women’s empowerment, and includes comprehensive resources on the Five-Year Review of the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing (Beijing+5) process (1999-2000) in Africa.

South Africa: Women’sNet

Women’sNet is a vibrant and innovative networking support program designed to enable South African women to use the Internet to find the people, issues, resources and tools needed for women’s social activism.

Nigeria: Fantsuam Foundation

Fantsuam Foundation is a non-profit organisation and APC member organisation, located in Nigeria, about 600 miles from Lagos. The Foundation was formed in 1996 by a group of Nigerian professionals to facilitate the empowerment of women in rural communities and enhance community development.

Senegal: Environmental Development Action in the Third World – Synergy Gender and Development

The ENDA-SYNFEV team’s mission is to bring women’s rights and gender issues to the heart of ENDA’s activities – working in partnership with networks, groups and associations who share similar goals. ENDA is APC’s member in Senegal.

Tanzania: The Tanzania Media Women Association

The Tanzania Media Women Association is a professional activist organisation established in 1987 with a vision “to use media to sensitise society on gender issues, and to advocate and lobby for policy and legal changes which favour the promotion of the human rights of women and children”. Apart from the general role of contributing to the development
of the country through media advocacy, the main objective of the association is to educate women and children on their rights.

Uganda: Mama FM and the Uganda Media Women’s Association

101.7 Mama FM is a community radio station set up by the Uganda Media Women’s Association (UMWA) to address the plight of the under- privileged and minority groups. It covers a radius of 400km and targets particularly women between the ages of 15and 45 and the general public. Mama FM seeks to promote interactive developmental communication. It aims at
broadcasting gender sensitive educational programmes and offering training and practical experience for female journalists.

Uganda: Women of Uganda Network

Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) is a non-governmental organisation initiated in May 2000 by several women’s organisations in Uganda to develop the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) among women as tools to share information and address issues collectively.

Uganda: Isis-Women’s International Cross-Cultural Exchange

The organisation, named after the ancient Egyptian goddess Isis who symbolises wisdom, creativity and knowledge, has as its objective the sharing of African women’s ideas, views and problems with women at the international level. Since the move to Kampala, Isis-WICCE started national and regional level programmes to facilitate the flow of information from Uganda to other parts of Africa and the rest of the world, and to contribute towards the strengthening of the Ugandan and African women’s movement. One of the projects that the organisation runs is an action-oriented resource centre comprising of a library, an Internet café and publication centre.

Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe Women’s Resource Centre and Network

Zimbabwe Women’s Resource Centre and Network is a non-governmental organisation working in the gender and development field. Its core business is gathering, interpreting, publishing and disseminating rare and life-changing information in order to allow women to make informed choices about their lives and influence government to implement gender-sensitive
policies.

Zimbabwe: Federation of African Media Women – Southern African Development Community

FAMW-SADC aims to develop a critical mass of women in the media through training, research into critical areas which are of concern to women, and to lobby for the democratisation of the media so that all sections of society – especially women and marginalised people – have access to and participate in the media.

International: The Association for Progressive Communication’s Women’s Networking Support Programme

The website for the APC WNSP supports women’s networking for social change. Programme work areas include training, participatory research, policy and advocacy in gender and information technology, information facilitation, and regional programme support. The APC WNSP strives to challenge the inequities faced by women, especially in the South.

More annotated links to organisations that use ICTs as tools to network and share information to advance gender issues in Africa

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4. Interview: The Internet – Working for Women in Africa

The APC recently interviewed local gender activist and APC-Africa- Women Project Coordinator, Jenny Radloff, to find out more about the African regional chapter of the APC Women’s Networking and Support Programme (APC WNSP). Read this interesting article

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5. World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS): Gender caucus update

What is the gender caucus?

The Gender Caucus is a group of 22 organisations that began work in Bamako to ensure that preparations for the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and the outcomes of the Summit include a gender perspective.

Why Bamako?

Bamako, the capital of Mali in North Africa, was where the first regional consultation for the WSIS took place in May this year. A number of these regional consultations are taking place in the run-up to the summit in 2003 and 2005 in order to incorporate local perspectives in the drafting of the final document.

What type of organisations?

The organisations consist mainly of civil society organisations working in the field of women’s rights and gender.

What’s so important about WSIS?

The WSIS is important because it maps out a plan for the future of the Information Society. Since ICTs are increasingly having a greater impact on the lives and development of all people around the world, it is important for everyone to have a voice in determining what that future will look like.

Which organisations make up the gender caucus?

The founding group of the gender caucus consists of representatives from the following organisations: ABANTU for Development, ACWICT (African Centre for Women, Information and Communication Technology), African Connection Programme, AIS-GWG (African Information Society – Gender Working Group), AMARC-WIN (World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters Women’s Information Network), AMARC Africa, APC-Africa-Women, AQ Solutions Association of YAM-Bukri, ENDA (Environmental Development Action in the Third World), GEEP (Gender Equity and Equality Project), FEMNET ­(African Women Development and Communication Network), MISA (Media Institute of Southern Africa), NDIMA (Network for the Defence of Independent Media), Network of African Women Economists, United Nations Development Programme Sub-Regional Resource Facility (UNDP/SURF) West Africa, UNIFEM (United Nations Development Fund for Women), Unite d’appui au programme de la cooperation Canada-Malienne, Women’sNet (South Africa), WOUGNET (Women of Uganda Network), ZWRCN (Zimbabwe Women’s Resource Centre and Network), Zimbabwe Ministry of Transport and Communications.

What does the gender caucus do?

The work of the WSIS-Gender Caucus will involve lobbying and advocacy at national, sub-regional regional and global level; providing input into WSIS preparatory process; conducting policy research to support policy and advocacy; drafting recommendations and resolutions as input into the WSIS process; making presentations on the analysis of gender and ICT issues; resource mobilisation; organising meetings; and sharing information on strategies, plans and preparations for WSIS and related events.

Where can I find more information?

  • Contact the WSIS-Gender Caucus convenor, Ms Gillian Marcelle,
    email: secretariat-wsisgendercaucus [at] wougnet [dot] org

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6. Announcements

a. REMINDER: Last chance to nominate outstanding ICT Policy initiatives for the APC Africa Hafkin Communications Prize 2002

DEADLINE FOR NOMINATIONS: September 15, 2002

THIS YEAR’S THEME: People-Centred Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Policy in Africa

THE PRIZE IS OPEN TO: civil society organisations, government institutions, educational organisations, community-based groups, networks, social movements and individuals anywhere in Africa

WE ARE LOOKING FOR ICT *POLICY INITIATIVES THAT:*

  • are people-centred and mobilise participation
  • raise awareness and build capacity
  • are Africa-driven and that develop Africa
  • have positive community impact at community level

THE PRIZE: USD$7,500.00 will be shared amongst up to three winning initiatives.

MORE ABOUT THE APC AFRICA HAFKIN PRIZE: http://www.apc.org/english/hafkin/2002.shtml or write to hafkin-prize [at] apc [dot] org

b. Gender Evaluation Methodology (GEM) Workshop: Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 23-31st October

What is GEM?

The Gender Evaluation Methodology (GEM) for ICT initiatives and ICT evaluation is an innovative gender analysis tool produced by the APC Women’s Networking Support Programme (APC WNSP) for practitioners who share a commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment in ICTs. Created in 2001, 2002-3 will see the field-testing and refining of GEM, as it is used to evaluate around 30 projects from Latin America, Africa, Asia, Europe and North America.

GEM provides a means for determining whether ICTs are really improving women’s lives and gender relations as well as promoting positive change at the individual, institutional, community and broader social levels. This free online and downloadable guide provides users with an overview of the evaluation process and outlines suggested strategies and methodologies for incorporating a gender analysis throughout the evaluation process.

Contact: Fatma Alloo, GEM Africa Coordinator – falloo [at] zitec [dot] org,
Chat Ramilo, APC WNSP GEM Project Manager – chat [at] apcwomen [dot] org.

For more information (in English and Spanish, and soon Portuguese)

c. ‘Speaking for Ourselves’

Together in partnership, Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), ARTICLE 19, Southern Africa Communications for Development (SACOD), AMARC Africa and APC have developed a multi-faceted, multimedia (policy, briefings for civil society, capacity training for rural women, participatory video and audio, and an installation project called
‘Speaking for Ourselves’.

‘Speaking for Ourselves’ will develop and strengthen the African position on WSIS issues and enable people caught outside the digital revolution to speak very clearly and loudly for themselves in person and in creative representation through testimonials. The partnership believes that it is an important intervention from the South, and that this is the most strategic manner for us to have an impact in an environment where different realities are spoken of but often not necessarily understood.

Visit http://africa.rights.apc.org for regular updates on the project.

d. Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative invites submissions on ‘right to information’ report

The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) has invited organisations to contribute to their forthcoming report on the status of the right to information/freedom to information in the Commonwealth countries.

The report, to be published preliminary to the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, scheduled for October 2003, and distributed to heads of governments, non-governmental organisations and other interested representatives from civil society, will examine access to information in the Commonwealth, the commitment to open government to ensure that access to information is guaranteed by legislation, and that the free flow of information into the public domain becomes a predominant characteristic of governance.

The CHRI is interested in learning about and sharing common experiences from legal, social policy or development studies perspectives related to access to information, right to information or the obstacles faced. Such contributions could include, but not be limited to, experiences, case studies/reports, draft legislation, implementation mechanisms, government attitudes and responses, prevalent legal regimes in your country or region, standards and practices, or anecdotal illustrations of good practice.

Contact Sandra E. Feinzig, Esq.: sandy [at] humanrightinitiative [dot] org or sandyfeinzig [at] hotmail [dot] com for more information

d. AISI Media Awards: On Promoting the Information Society in Africa

The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has introduced the African Information Society Initiative (AISI) Media Awards to encourage more informed coverage of information society and ICT for development issues in Africa as part of the its AISI Outreach and Communication Programme. The AISI Media Awards is aimed at individual journalists and media institutions based in Africa that are “promoting journalism which contributes to a better understanding of the information society in Africa”. More information

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Chakula: Africa ICT Policy Monitor newsletter
Contact: heather [at] apc [dot] org for questions, comments and contributions
Africa IR Policy Monitor Project
Africa IR Policy Monitor Project
The Association for Progressive Communications

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Newsletter of the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) Africa Internet Rights ICT Policy Monitor to mobilise African Civil Society for ICT policy for development and social justice

http://africa.rights.apc.org

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