ICTs a need for women's movements

The Bamako Polycentric World Social Forum (WSF) has an overwhelming 70 percent of particpants who are being women from all walks of life in Africa and the World over.

The Bamako Polycentric World Social Forum (WSF) has an overwhelming 70 percent of particpants who are being women from all walks of life in Africa and the World over.

The forum has been characterised by women dressed in new West African Dress looking very smart and admirable as they participated in the march carrying different banners and chanting solidarity messages in their local languages and French.

The Bamako WSF has an African face attached to the forum just like the Indian social forum has an Asian face and the Brazilian social forum has a Latin American face.

Corinne Kumar from El Taller International in Tunisia said that she heard about the forum from the national and regional forums which was also emphasized by e-mail and internet.

Marthe Arama Mali a participant at the WSF said that she heard about the forum after the cotton and gold sell through her network. She said that other women who do not have access to the internet heard about the forum by word of mouth through their networks or women’s movements.

Arama pointed out that the use of information Communication technology (ICTs) was not very easy as to register as the database on the web site required people to download the form following the lack of broadband in Africa.

She pointed out that the type of database on the WSF website needed very good internet connection as most of Africa relies on dial up.

For many women who do not know how to read and write or even using the internet, the use of the internet registration was done by their networks.

Corinne explained that the Bamako WSF helped participants to get Visas at the airport as the letter of invitation was easily generated by internet with one’s details in either French, English or Portuguese.

Corinne however said that when it came to registration on the internet, Bamako WSF was quite revolutionary in that it had simplified the process of registration and invitation letters.

She was pleased to note that for the Bamako WSF event all the embassies where well informed in advance and explained that in their case the Malian woman ambassador based in Tunisia actually helped in even looking for cheaper accommodation and also processed the Visas and in person took the Visas to the Tunisians participating in the WSF offices.

Awa Coulibary a street vendor in Mali said she was happy to see and be part of the Bamako WSF march. She said she knew this would come to pass as she heard this on radio and television.

Awa was selling fried groundnuts and hoped to make some business as she had just started selling by press time.

Many women joined the march to raise voices saying another world was possible.

Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi Chaiperson Nigeria Social Forum (NSF)Women from Nigeria learnt about the Bamako WSF from the FEMNET mailing list on the internet and posted it on list serves such as the Women Organisation for representation and national cohesion (WORNACO).

She explined that after people read about it on the internet they started asking about their participation in the forum and where they can get funding. Abiola said that the Global fund for women also made a call for women to attend the social forum on the internet and some women applied and have since sponsored some women to attend the forum in Mali.

Abiola noted that grassroots women from Nigeria are not participating in the forum because they do not have access to email.

"Lack of access to the internet is a hinderous to women’s development. It has also denied them lack of information that can be useful to them," said Abiola.

She explined that women’s movement use the internet for research especially on issues such as the women’s rights.

The Bamako WSF has a lot of women participants who speak the local language Bamanan and Fulfulde which are also being reported by the African Flame Newspaper.

For the first time in the Bamako WSF, journalists from the African Flame Newspaper; apart from reporting in English and French will be reporting in three African Langauges including Kiswahili to prepare for the WSF to be hosted in Nairobi, Kenya.

Local languages coordinator, Souleymane Niang from African Flame Nespaper said they had to install a special soft ware to be able to print the two widely spoken languages in Mali which are Bamanan and Fulfulde because they would also like to inform the local Malian population especially women who were marginalised in the world.