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IGCBP: How can technology help women overcome gender imbalances?

Here's one interesting discussion that took place in the Asia/India group of the Internet Governance Capacity Building Programme - IGCBP, reported by tutor Priyanthi Daluwatte:

Participant A attended Global Pulse 2010, an online conference by US State Department and USAID organized for their International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) Alumni.

It discussed the issues around ICTs, IG and the Empowerment of women and Girls in developing countries was raised a number of times.

New technologies such as cell phones and the internet have revolutionized the way our world works. People are increasingly becoming aware that they need to address development challenges through technology. What concrete suggestions we can make towards the goal of women empowerment and fighting VAW.

How can new technology help women overcome gender biases and barriers to equitable development?

What innovative technologies have you seen or heard of that are addressing challenges that women face?


Contribution by Participant B

You have opened a very good discussion on women empowerment. As a member of the civil society, our organization has been empowering rural and indigenous women. We have trained women on adaptation of technology and transferring available technology models for the benefit of women. Even the Government of India has been supporting various organizations and institutions for projects that identify technological needs of women, development, adaptation of technology and transferring available technology models for the benefit of women. The Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), for example, has been organizing women in the informal sector in India since 1972. ICTs are really successful agents of change in enabling women to participate directly in politics and civic life.E-Seva e-services in Andhra Pradesh is an example.

In Chennai and Bangalore, major cities in south India, the entire IT field is predominantly occupied by women. Gender and ICT advocacy has become one of the main goal of organizations headed by women sociologists in India. There are powerful feminists in India who have changed the destiny of India. Vandana Shiva, has been a role model for our women in protecting our fragile environment. Vandana Shiva plays a major role in the global eco-feminist movement.

Gender and ICT Awards, an initiative of APC and GKP acknowledge,protect and defend Women


Contribution by Participant C

The majority of women in the developing world are on the wrong side of the digital and knowledge divide; the capacity of women to engage in the knowledge society is grossly under-developed and under-utilized. Women are at risk of becoming increasingly marginalized in the knowledge society, where much more than access to and use of information technology is at stake. In the knowledge society they need access not only to new technologies but also to education, entrepreneurship, and employment opportunities, as well as the ability to participate fully in knowledge-based activities. Given the gendered barriers, challenges and roles that determine their ability to participate on an equal basis with men, the gender divide in knowledge societies cannot be expected to improve automatically with economic growth. Rather, specific actions and interventions are needed. Unless this gender divide is specifically addressed, there is a risk that ICT may exacerbate existing inequalities between women and men and create new forms of inequality in current era of globalization and development.

Text from my paper on Gender dimension of ICT4D Published by Karlstad University


Contribution by Participant D:

There is so much to say and so much to write on this... Just that, I strongly believe Internet, networked communications spheres, networked communications environments, online activism can pace up the journey towards women empowerment in most societies all over the world. Technology can prove to be catalyst for the purpose.

As I mentioned earlier in a post, we are implementing a project in Pakistan i.e. "MDG3: Take Back the Tech! to end violence against women".

This project believes in investing in Equality and strengthen Women's Strategic Use of Information and Communications Technologies to Combat Violence against Women and Girls.

The ultimate goal of the project is to help create a global community of women and adolescent girls, who are critically taking up ICT tools and using them to combat violence.

Some of the key activities are:

administering small grants for women’s ICT for development projects;

localizing the annual global Take Back the Tech! Campaign;

conducting research and analysis on policy issues related to women’s rights and ICTs;

promoting women’s engagement in ICT policy spaces that impact on women’s rights and gender equality; and

designing and implementing ICT enabled interventions.

Similar such interventions can be an answer to the questions you raised. I still believe that current developments over the internet and networked communication spheres in terms of technology development and deployment are usually not very gender responsive. So the global Take-Back-Tech-Campaign, which we are also running in Pakistan answer these questions too.

Just to inform you all that we will be organizing Pakistan's first ever Feminist Technology Exchange (FTX) on 26-30 April, 2010 in Islamabad. We are inviting about 15 women rights activists from throughout Pakistan to equip them with Feminist Tech Practices. These women will be trainers and then these trainers will take these FTXs in all different parts of the country. Taking the bull by the horns ;)

How National and community legal instruments should work?
by Participant A (02/04/2010 16:45)

We are here to thrash out about the legislation and mechanism in respect of internet governance.

What it should be when it comes to our own community? Prerequisites and requirements of the land and people should be in consideration while making laws and policies. I noticed one thing during my visit to different federal agencies of US dealing with IPR and cyber crimes, that they have proper mechanism for implementing those laws, for instance when I visited capital city police Raleigh in North Carolina they showed me a cyber crime unit equipped with modern tools for forensic and cyber crimes investigation!

And I remember they told me that these equipments are very expensive but make our work easy to detect the crime and criminal. Why I quoted this example here, just to give an idea that how laws could be implemented.

Mechanism and practical steps towards the implementation of laws play vital role in making the laws and policies successful. I am sure in Pakistan the agency which deals with the cyber crime issues are not equipped with such tools and manpower in the shape of detectives. I am recalling the incident of the kidnapping and murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2003, the terrorists who were involved in the killing were corresponding through emails, unfortunately we didn’t have the proper mechanism at that time and we had to take the help of FBI, and the American consulate.

The FBI traced the e-mails, and police captured those who allegedly sent them to the newspapers. After that saddened event a Pakistani security agency launched a special wing to combat cyber crimes in part because the country had to rely on U.S. investigators to trace e-mails sent by the kidnappers of American journalist Daniel Pearl.

"The purpose of establishing the National Response Center for Cyber Crimes is to stop misuse of the Internet and trace those involved in cyber-related crimes. So here I want to share my view point that how the whole process from law making to implementation of these laws are interconnected with each other. Special training relates to technical issues should be there for existing judiciary and the upcoming new judges. Legislature is there for making laws and policies but judiciary is the one who has to interpret those laws, so they should be well versed with new emerging trends around the globe and should be well trained when it comes to technology..!

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