IWTC Women's GlobalNet #276

Activities and Initiatives of Women Worldwide 

May 11, 2005

 

Global Alliance for ICT Development: Another opportunity for women to lobby for gender analysis and perspectives in the Information Society

As part of the preparatory activities in the lead up to the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) on November 16-18, 2005 in Tunis and as a response to the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s call for open consultations, members of the UN ICT Task Force initiated a series of consultations with different stakeholders to develop concrete proposals for global policy debate on ICT policies.

Specifically, the UN ICT Task Force members have been asked by the UN Secretary General to develop concrete proposals for an “open, innovative, networked, multi- stakeholder and forward-looking platform for global policy debate on ICT policies and development .“ This has led to the development of the concept of a Global Alliance.

The civil society consultation on the concept of a Global Alliance for ICT Development was held on April 11, 2005 at the UN Headquarters in New York and was chaired by Mr. Sabruland Khan on behalf of the UN ICT Task Force.

The establishment of a Global Alliance aims “to provide a uniquely open, inclusive and sustained multi-stakeholder platform for regular global forums on emerging policy issues and cutting-edge developments in ICT; and support development of networks of national, regional, and global stakeholders groups, with stakeholder and regional nodes undertaking specific activities for the Alliance .”

The full copy of the Global Alliance (principles and elements) document may be accessed at: <http://www.unicttaskforce.org/perl/documents.pl?id=1493>

Khan noted that there is a unique window of opportunity for all stakeholders [to dialogue and debate] with several strands coming together through the Millennium +5 Summit (New York, September 14-16, 2005); WSIS (PrepCom 3 and intersessional period, Geneva, September 19-30, 2005 and the actual Summit, Tunis,  November 16 -18, 2005); and the 8th Meeting of the UN ICT Task Force (Dublin, April13-15 2005). He commented that the Alliance must bring together a strong network of key stakeholders and that civil society must be brought in “not only to criticize but also to contribute constructively.” Khan added that the Alliance will be established “for all stakeholders to participate on an equal footing…they are all streams of the same river.” He noted the roles of other stakeholders:

private sector - to invest and show responsibility and views;

governments - to enforce and legislate, and provide enabling environment; and

multi-lateral institutions - to provide platform.

Mavic Cabrera-Balleza, representing the International Women’s Tribune Centre and the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC) -Women’s International Network highlighted the contributions of women’s groups notably the NGO Gender Strategies Working Group and the Gender Caucus during the first phase of the Summit . She underscored that the inclusion of gender principles in the WSIS Declaration and Plan of Action was a result of women’s lobbying and advocacy. She also inquired about the mechanisms that the proponents of the Alliance are putting in place to ensure women’s active participation.

Michael Gurstein of the Telecenter Network of the Americas emphasized that hundreds of thousands of community telecenters around the world must be integrated into the Global Alliance. He pointed out that unlike traditional NGOs, telecenters do not have resources or interest in coming to the WSIS and similar processes.

Khan responded by saying that these are all real issues--gender, community involvement --and that achieving gender equality is a basic goal which cuts across [all other issues.] He added that the [principle of gender equality] must permeate all activities and that it should not just be one of the eight Millennium Development Goals but should be integrated in each of the goals. He went on to add: “I am one with you in all of the issues but I don’t have the answers. Let us all participate in finding the answers.”

Mr. Khan noted that the Alliance must function under the umbrella of the United Nations but must be more than just a traditional UN agency.
 
Rik Panganiban,
Communications Coordinator of the Conference of NGOs in consultative relationship with the United Nations (CONGO) delivered a statement proposing the creation of a standing online “observatory” of ICT development and an annual conference in the developing world on ICT development issues.  

Veni Markovski, representing Internet Society Bulgaria , noted that Bulgarian elections will be over in June. All parties are endorsing developing e-government, e-governance policies. She remarked that it will be a good opportunity to build something from the ground up in partnership with the Alliance .

Cyril Ritchie,
Secretary of CONGO, noted that while the members will be accorded the same rights regardless of their level of contribution to the Alliance , he wondered if those who pay more (i.e. corporate members) will not feel obliged to get more out of their membership, and have more weight in their voice in the Alliance .

The current proposal for the establishment of the Alliance states that the Alliance activities would be funded by membership fees in combination with voluntary donations and contributions, both financial and in-kind. Membership fees would be based on a principle of “ability to pay,” with a suggested range of perhaps $500 to $50,000.

Alejandra Davidziuk, Argentina Observatory, LINKS, discussed the challenges of stimulating debate at the national level in Argentina , and asked how the Alliance could foster this.

Mark Bench, World Press Freedom Committee, asked that with freedom of the press not existing in many parts of the world, how was there to be a meaningful dialogue among actors?

Dennis Gillolli a member of the UN ICT Task Force, reminded participants that the Alliance proposal should be seen as part of the overall UN reform process. Innovative processes have come out of the Dot-Force, the UN ICT Task Force and the WSIS. This was just carrying forward the momentum. He cited Mozambique as a good example of multi-stakeholder partnerships that generate funds, and foster democratic governance. The Alliance can help bridge the rift between development community and ICT community, he added.

The proposal for the Alliance will be submitted to the UN Secretary General by mid-May. It will then be presented at a roundtable on 13 September, prior to the Millennium + 5 Summit in New York --highlighting the role of ICTs in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. To post a comment on the concept of the Global Alliance and for further information, please visit the UN ICT Task Force website at  http://www.unicttaskforce.org/perl/comments.pl?ot=document;oi=1443. 
GlobalNet will keep you posted on the developments on the Global Alliance and other gender and ICT discussions.

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