Gender & ICTs
The plane ride was as all plane rides become after awhile, uncomfortable and far too long. Once getting off, there were large posters everywhere advertising Source: APC ICT Policy Handbook and APC Annual Report 2005.">WSIS, especially about the IT 4 All exhibition, where the tagline -- complete with pictures of multi-gendered and 'raced' children smiling at a computer screen -- promises to forefront the human dimension of information communications technologies development. I think I snorted audibly.
BANGKOK, THAILAND 7 November 2005 (Dafne Sabanes Plou)
It is interesting that during this new Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) Forum that is being held in Bangkok, Thailand, numerous workshops and even an intervention at the plenary have been on scientific and technological advances, which are bringing along great changes regarding nature and the conception of human life. There were however also interventions on the modification of life that can seem aggressive and once again oppressive for women. In the two workshops presented by the Center for Genetics and Society and Our Bodies Ourselves, both from the United States, great concerns arose relating to genetic testing, choosing the sex of babies, selective abortion rendered possible thanks to ultrasound technology, and the technology to select sperm to produce boys or girls.
The women’s movement knows just how handy new ICTs can be when it’s time to coordinate its own movement, lead campaigns, lobby, and have political effect. Nevertheless there are difficult access barriers for these technologies that are not limited to infrastructural or cost-related issues, but are trapped by power relations and inequalities that leave these tools out of the reach of millions of people, most of which are women. The workshop that tackled this subject during the 10th Feminist Encounter held in Serra Negra, Sao Paolo, Brazil, aimed to raise awareness about the relationship between gender and ICTs though an open dialogue with the participants, composed of a majority of journalists, community radio producers, social communicators, and women’s and feminist movement activists.
With moods that range from bouncy, to curious and overwhelmed, a team of APC bloggers — a little irreverently, in keeping with the trend of this fast growing popular medium — kept track of what’s happening at AWID, an international meeting of women’s rights activists that drew 1800 participants to Bangkok. The Association for Women’s Rights in Development’s International Forum on ‘How does Change Happen?’ brought together an amazing diversity of women and men united in the goal of advancing the rights of women globally, organisers said. Participants included feminist activists, development practitioners, human rights defenders, trade unionists, government representatives, policy makers, students, researchers and community organisers from 120 countries. This forum is in other terms the biggest gathering of women’s rights advocates of this decade. And this is reflected in the issues coming out of this group blog.
Pallitathya Help-line Centre — an innovative call centre for the underprivileged — received the 2005 Gender and Information and Communication Technology (GICT) award on October 27, 2005 at Bangkok, Thailand. Sponsors of the contest are APC’s Women’s Networking Support Programme (APC WNSP) and the Global Knowledge Partnership.. These awards are supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Department for International Development (DfID), UK. Besides the Bangladesh venture, the 30 other entries for this Asia-Pacific prize threw up a runner-up from India. Putting ICTs in the Hands of the Poor is an interactive community ICT centre in North India. The other runner-up was eHomemakers, a network for home-based business from Malaysia. A knowledge-sharing session was also organised along with the award ceremony.
On the ‘information superhighway’, humans too are being trafficked now. Just how and how much, the internet and other ICTs are implicated in trafficking is the subject of this issue paper by the Association for Progressive Communications Women’s Networking Support Programme (APC WNSP) produced in cooperation with The Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID). It explores three pivotal questions: Does the role of ICTs matter or is it a fashionable distraction from serious countertrafficking work? Can we talk of trafficking in images or does trafficking only apply to people? Is the consideration of privacy in relation to ICTs contrary to counter-trafficking work or is it part of a broader movement to create safety and freedom for individuals and communities? Finally, the paper asks what action can and is being taken. Written by Kathleen Maltzahn, who worked on trafficking issues since 1992, this is part of a series of forthcoming papers from the APC WNSP examining ICT from a gender perspective.
What do ostrich eggs, free attitudes, ICT and graciousness have in common? An exciting new research initiative that brings together African researchers to study Africa, ICTs and women’s empowerment, called GRACE. The Gender Research in Africa into ICTs for Empowerment held its first researcher capacity-building workshop in Durban in July 2005, and while researchers from all over the continent honed their project proposals and fine-tuned networking skills, they also learned how to create ostrich eggs around themselves.
What changes does World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) — which meets in Tunisia in November — bring in regards to gender equality and women’s empowerment? Is WSIS worth it? How effective is gender advocates participation? What are the main challenges faced by gender equality advocates? This paper aims to answer these questions and summarise what has been achieved so far for gender equality in the WSIS process. It seeks to clarify the "gender and ICT" agenda for both phases of the WSIS. It analyses why gender advocacy was such a challenge within the whole process, and assess the outcomes as well as some of the indirect benefits WSIS brought for gender and ICT advocates. Written by Karen Banks, APC.
The second phase of World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) takes place in Tunisia later this year. APC’s GenderIT.org team joined the third and final preparatory meeting, held in Geneva (Switzerland) from September 19 to 30. In the run-up to the mid-November WSIS summit, there ‘s a special section collating a wide variety of resources and articles related to gender and the WSIS.