• Sunday, August 31, 2014
  • A program of IPS Inter Press Service supported by the Dutch MDG3 Fund

    ICT for Women’s Rights – APC looks at Beijing +15

    logoacpWhen the Beijing Platform came into being way back in 1995 activists in the women’s movement was only just learning about “new” technologies like email and websites – in fact APC‘s women’s programme took a forty-person team to Beijing and gave hundreds of our fellow women’s rights advocates their first glimpse of the World Wide Web. The UN Secretary General’s report on the fifteen-year review, specifically mentioned the significance of media and ICT to women’s rights, including use of media and ICT in combating violence against women.

    Media and communication have been turned upside down since Beijing.

    Women’s rights organisations are using social networking tools to support women whose lives are threatened, to take action that prevent violence, and seek redress for women and girls. Women’s rights activists are adapting GPS applications in mobile phones – intended for commercial purposes – to warn others of dangerous areas and document abuse. In South Africa, Women’sNet is teaching girls to avoid harrassment through cell phones and “Keep your chats exactly that!”
    Survivors of violence are producing digital stories to denounce what happened to them in their own words and voices and at the same time connect with with others, build solidarity and aid the healing process.
    The APC launched a global campaign three years ago to “Take Back the Tech!” to end violence against women which is growing in strength and numbers with people from tens of countries taking part.

    As feminists, we are creating our own media and disrupting and challenging mainstream notions of identity and what women are or should be. We are self-representing, to recast ourselves and challenge stale notions of what women are or should be. We are demonstrating the multiplicity and diversity of who we are.

    Women’s groups are also getting involved in debates around communication rights that include critical rights such as freedom of expression versus censorship and content regulation; privacy rights versus surveillance, access to knowledge versus intellectual property rights and who owns the media. We’re making our voice heard in policy spaces like the Internet Governance Forum where internet and other technology policies gets debated. Where governments can be influenced to encourage internet users to exercise their right to ensure their privacy rather than choose to regulate content.

    The global fifteen-year review process of the BPFA must reflect these trends and affirm that affordable access to information and knowledge, the internet and other communications technologies are critical and fundamental to women’s rights. Women’s right to communicate must be embedded in our language and legislation. And our women’s protocols and commissions, national and global legislation should interact with other policy processes that are changing the world as we know it.

    – The women’s networking support programme of the Assocation for Progressive Communications (APC WNSP)

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