By Dafne Sabanes Plou SAO PAULO, Brazil, 03 November 2005
By Dafne Sabanes Plou, from WNSP
The women’s movement knows just how handy new information and communication technologies (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, from October 9-12, 2005, 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. It was jointly organised by the Association for Progressive Communications’ Women’s Network Support Programme (WNSP) and the Feminist Radio International Endeavour (FIRE) that will disseminate the debates over the internet.
The participants also referred to the daily use women and their organisations make of these new technologies. They expressed their concerns regarding the lack of access – especially in rural areas – the prices that inhibit a more egalitarian use of this resource, and also the inequalities that are created within the organisations themselves between those with internet access, generally the leaders, and those excluded from this possibility. They also articulated the need to ensure that their communication is secure, private and free from any intrusion.
They did not cease to analyse ICTs as a tool of the neoliberal globalization that imposes a hegemonic discourse and images of men and women considered perfect and worth imitating that have little to do with the real women and men that struggle for their dignity and their sustenance on a daily basis.
Women are also worried about the use of the internet to promote pornography, the sexual exploitation of women, boys and girls, and racial violence, discrimination and inequality. They considered it vital for women to organise and confront the aggressions and violations of their rights and dignity that are perpetrated on the net.
The democratisation of communication was another of the key subjects that arose in the discussion. For women, the existence of the internet also means the possibility to access information and knowledge, maintain exchanges and facilitate the information flow between organisations from different parts of the region and world. This enriches their work at the local level and broadcasts their voices, thus reflecting the struggles and achievements of the women’s movement. For many of them, it is important to solidify civil society’s participation in internet governance during the World Summit on the Information Society process – the second phase of which is being celebrated in Tunisia this November – in order to ensure democracy and the right to communicate of both women and men.
During the 10th Feminist Encounter, the WNSP was also in charge of moderating one of the panels of the “Complex Dialogues” series on “Feminism and Racism”. It was also a part of the media pool of journalists from different countries that have been collaborating to provide information on events of international interest for the global women’s and feminist movement.