CUERNAVACA, Mexico, 28 Abril 2004
The APC women’s programme (WNSP) is gearing up for the exciting culmination of two years of trials of GEM, a gender evaluation methodology for ICT and internet initiatives, in Brazil in early June, as part of a seven-day forum on “Networking for Change and Empowerment”. Representatives from community telecentres, women’s networking initiatives, and community-building and training programmes that participated as pilot testers of GEM from Asia, Africa, Central and Eastern Europe and Latin America will meet face-to-face to debate results and share insights. But that’s not all the forum offers. There’s also a gender and ICT policy forum as well as workshops and training offered.
The “Networking for Change and Empowerment” Forum, organized by the APC women’s programme (WNSP) will take place from June 1-7 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The WNSP will bring together women and men who have been working in the gender and ICT area in the past decade including the UN World Conference on Women (1995) in Beijing, the Global Knowledge Partnership conferences (1997 and 2000), the Global Conference of Networking Partnership (1999 and 2000), the Beijing+5 Review (2000), the Association of Women in Development Conference (2000), the UN Commission on the Status of Women (2001, 2002 and 2003), the GKP Global Forum on ICT and Gender (2003) and UN Division for the Advancement of Women (UNDAW) meetings which advise the UN General Assembly. The forum will provide a space to build on the momentum created during the first phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and prepare a strategic approach and plan for the second phase of WSIS and other ICT policy arena including the Beijing +10 process, the World and Regional Social Forums, trade negotiations, and other relevant processes.
A gem for ICT initiatives
The forum will be the venue for the exciting culmination of the Gender Evaluation Methodology for ICT and Internet Initiatives (GEM). Community telecentres, women’s networking initiatives, and community-building and training programmes that participated as pilot testers of GEM over the last two years will come together in a GEM Practitioners Exchange, where for the first time partners from Asia, Africa, Central and Eastern Europe and Latin America will meet face-to-face to debate results and share insights from implementing the methodology.
Testing-partners put GEM results to work in a variety of ways: understanding and announcing the impact of gender advocacy campaigns; transforming product presentation; developing new gender evaluation tools; and fine-tuning materials and training delivery. Sharing lessons learned will be a key part of the exchange with the aim of consolidating and broadening the network of skilled GEM practitioners.
GEM encourages ICT initiatives to incorporate critical gender evaluation and planning into their development process in order to improve project impact and transform women’s lives and gender roles. Individual initiatives gained insight from implementing GEM, and the analysis of initial results regionally and globally has already helped the WNSP to deepen its own advocacy agenda regarding critical gender and ICT issues. The APC WNSP Gender and ICT Policy Guide (http://www.apcwomen.org/summit/policy/wnsp_policyguide.html), draws from the GEM experience as well as gender and ICT advocacy work by the WNSP and civil society since 1995.
A ‘new and improved’ GEM website will be launched in June, featuring Spanish, English and French versions of the GEM tool as well as global findings gleaned from GEM’s application in WNSP’s four priority regions.
Improving women’s opportunities through changes in ICT policy
GEM practitioners, together with other WNSP members and partners, will have the opportunity to map out key gender and ICT concerns at the Gender and ICT Policy Forum immediately following the GEM practitioners’ exchange in Rio. A focus of the debate will undoubtedly be the outcomes and plans for future monitoring of the United Nations World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) held in December last year.
The APC WNSP’s message was simple and clear at WSIS: “If gender imbalances in women’s participation and benefits from the envisioned ‘information society’ are not addressed at all levels of policy, we face the danger that WSIS and other policy processes will fail women, and will contribute to reinforcing and reproducing existing inequalities, discriminations and injustices.”
The first phase of the WSIS process provided a platform for several levels of policy dialogue, and mobilised an increasing movement of gender and ICT advocacy and action at the international and national levels. The forum is designed to provide a space where the APC WNSP can consolidate this growing gender and ICT advocacy network and focus greater attention on the need to locate gender issues at the heart of all ICT policy and practice processes.
The forum will not only provide an arena for debate and strategizing around ICT policy, it has a training component to train participants in the skills necessary to start getting involved in national ICT policy advocacy. This is an extension of work already carried out by APC in ICT policy training and will be based on APC’s curriculum which is freely available online.
APC has developed a comprehensive “ICT policy for civil society” training curriculum which has been welcomed enthusiastically by many organizations representing diverse stake-holders. The objective of the curriculum is to build the capacity of civil society and individuals to get to grips with what is involved in ICT policy issues and engage in ICT policy processes. The WNSP were involved in the writing of many parts of the curriculum.
To develop the skills and confidence to participate in advocacy around ICT issues, the policy-training workshop in Rio will allow participants to:
- explore inclusion, gender equality and the developmental impact of ICT policies and learn about technical, economic, regulatory and policy issues in the internet and ICT sectors
- learn about the differences between policy, legislation, regulation
- investigate key areas of ICT policy, including universality, intellectual property, language issues, indigenous knowledge and free and open source software, and
- build an understanding the issues of privacy, security and civil liberties in the information society
Growing the gender and ICT advocacy network
Put simply, women need to have equal opportunities when it comes to using and accessing ICTs so that they can benefit in equal numbers to men, who have traditionally dominated the use and ownership of technology. APC WNSP’s Networking for Change and Empowerment Forum is designed to provide a space to consolidate the growing international gender and ICT advocacy network and focus greater attention on the need to locate gender issues at the heart of all ICT policy and practice processes. It will also develop strategies and resources to sustain the network over the longer term and enable it to have greater impact.