Gender & ICTs
On June 17, 2005, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, approved .xxx as a global top-level domain for sexually explicit material on the internet, after five years of negotiations. Jac sm Kee from APC WNSP uses this peg to point out that the issue goes much further. Women have to demand their right to freely move, create knowledge and represent their diversity, communicate and form networks with each other and be safe from harm. Can information and communication technologies help to truly transform socil relations, instead of just amplifying inequalities?
The First International Symposium on Women and ICT took place in Baltimore, Maryland, USA in mid-June. There are different priorities coming up. For instance, the US is concerned about support for women in the information technology sector, the need for attracting more women to higher education, and having better slots open to them. From the South, the priority is still infrastructure and access. At Baltimore, meanwhile, the APC’s WNSP shared experiences in its Gender Evaluation Methodology for information and communication technologies (ICTs), to shared tools for participants to measure progress achieved on the gender front.
Albania’s national ICT (information and communication technologies) strategy is one of its kind in Central and Eastern Europe, with a marked effort to include women’s needs and views. Gender incorporation in ICTs was part of Albania’s attempt to address growing disparities in income, gender and geographical location. What can we learn from their experience for future gender-sensitive ICT policy framing?
There’s a contradictory silence surrounding Section J of the Beijing Platform for Action that relates to issues of women and the media at this year’s Beijing + 10. What are the possible reasons for the lack of vocalisation on this issue, even as women’s movements working on various issues recognise the impact and power of the media in their work?
ICTs, or information and communication technologies, offer immense possibilities to reduce poverty, improve governance and advance gender equality in Africa. But, cautions an APC-produced paper on the role of ICTs in the development of African women, this will happen only if these technologies are made more accessible and consciously applied to achieve these objects.
Wireless networks is attracting growing attention across the globe, as a plausible way of providing internet access in marginal areas or in cases where costs are prohibitive. Cristo Redentor Telecentre co-ordinator Cristina Ojeda joined a workshop on wireless networking organized by the Latin American School of Networking EsLaRed) in Mérida, Venezuela and narrates her experience.
The belief that technology is gender-neutral is still rife. At Rio’s recent regional World Summit on the Information Society meet, this point was driven home once more. Representatives of international organisations, financing institutions, and government representatives too simply overlook gender concerns in ICTs (information and communication technologies).
Magaly Pazello is the only Brazilian feminist who is been active in the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) process since its inception. A member of the WSIS Gender Caucus, she is also a member of of the DAWN network (Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era). In the Latin America and the Caribbean Regional Preparatory Conference, held in June 2005 in Rio de Janeiro, Graciela Selaimen interviewed Magaly Pazello, speaking about the participation of Latin American women in the WSIS process, urgency to address the gender perspective in the information society, her expectations about the Tunis WSIS Summit and other themes.
No participation of civil society as observers in the governmental delegations’ meetings; no gender working group in the final regional action plan for the information society (ELac 2007); almost no women, black people or indigenous people as panelists. Although the Rio WSIS Regional Meeting opened two slots for civil society statements in the plenary and produced documents which were fairly positively received by NGOs and social movements, there was a step back regarding women’s participation in the regional action plan.
When I was a trainer at a media and gender workshop in 2002, the only male participant there confessed, “Our organisation is not prioritising gender actually. We are more concerned about other issues – issues which are political”. This statement reveals much about the stand that most media institutions take on gender.