IWTC Women's GlobalNet #289

Activities and Initiatives of Women Worldwide 

December 8, 2005

by Mavic Cabrera-Balleza

1. Women’s events at WSIS and post-Summit plans

The recently concluded World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) produced two major output documents the Tunis Commitment and the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society. The documents are available on this link:

http://www.itu.int/wsis/documents/doc_multi.asp?lang=en&id=2266|2267

The Tunis Commitment reaffirms the WSIS participants’ support for the Geneva Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action adopted at the first phase of the WSIS in Geneva in December 2003. It recognizes “that a gender divide exists as part of the digital divide in society and reaffirms the commitment to women’s empowerment and to a gender equality perspective, so that the divide will be overcome.” The second document, the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society, outlines the recommendations on Internet governance and for the financial mechanisms for meeting the challenges of information and communication technologies (ICT) for development. It contains the following specific provisions in relation to women and gender:

1. build ICT capacity and confidence in the use of ICTs through the improvement and delivery of relevant education and training programmes and systems including lifelong and distance learning;
2. implement effective training and education, particularly in ICT science and technology, that motivates and promotes participation and active involvement of girls and women in the decision-making process of building the Information Society; and
3. develop specific gender-disaggregated indicators to measure the digital divide in its various dimensions.

Women’s organizations actively involved in the WSIS, drew attention to the need to build women’s capacity in different levels including policy making on infrastructure development, financing, and technology choice. In their contribution to the civil society declaration, the women called for “real effort and commitment to transforming the masculinist culture embedded within existing structures and discourses of the information society which serves to reinforce gender disparity and inequality.” They also emphasized that financial structures and mechanisms need to be geared towards addressing the gender divide, including the provision of adequate budgetary allocations.

At the WSIS, women’s groups organized a number of events. Some of them were:

- the launch of the book Gender Evaluation Methodology for Internet and ICTs by the Association for Progressive Communications - Women’s Networking Support Programme (APC - WNSP);

- presentation of the Gender and ICT awards - APC WNSP;

- presentation of the results of the research competitions on Global Perspectives on Gender and ICTs - WSIS Gender Caucus; and

- debate on ICTs and women’s human rights - WSIS Gender Caucus.


On the last day of the WSIS, women’s organizations and gender advocates discussed ways of continuing gender, media and ICT advocacy in a post-Summit scenario.

The women’s organizations that included the African Women's Development and Communication Network (FEMNET), APC-WNSP, Feminist International Radio Endeavor, International Women’s Tribune Centre, World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters-Women’s International Network (AMARC -WIN), and the WSIS Gender Caucus presented their plans and ideas post-WSIS. Some of these include capacity building on gender and ICT issues for policy makers, production of popular training materials on gender and ICT, a feminist training school on lobbying, advocacy and negotiations, and lobbying and advocacy around the Internet Governance Forum.
The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is one of the proposals outlined in the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society

Following the WSIS, the IGF will be the main venue “to discuss public policy issues related to key elements of Internet governance in order to foster the sustainability, robustness, security, stability and development of the Internet”. It also aims “to facilitate discourse between bodies dealing with different cross-cutting international public policies regarding the Internet and discuss issues that do not fall within the scope of any existing body.” The IGF will be held in Greece sometime in 2006.

The Latin American women’s organizations involved in the WSIS also suggested organizing a workshop at the KnowHow Conference in Mexico in August 2006 to discuss women’s reflections and analysis of gender, media and ICT advocacy. Media, ICTs and gender is one of the key issues that will be discussed at the KnowHow conference. Visit http://www.iiav.nl/eng/ic/knowhow/knowhow_mexico.html for additional information.

Women’s groups at the WSIS agreed to pursue the plans of their individual organizations but committed to find ways to collaborate whenever possible. The WSIS Gender Caucus, a multi-stakeholder coalition of women and women that advocates for an equitable Information Society finished its mandate at the end of the Tunis phase of the WSIS.

2. Community Radio Opens New Avenues to Promote Women and Peacebuilding

To mark the 5th anniversary of the adoption on the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on women peace and security (UNSCR 1325), the International Women’s Tribune Centre presented the first in a series of local language radio productions on UNSCR 1325. The radio productions were presented and distributed at the AWID International Forum in Bangkok, Thailand on October 27-30, 2005 and at the AMARC Asia-Pacific Conference in Jakarta, Indonesia on November 24-27, 2005.

The radio productions include broadcast-ready materials in English and Filipino which depict the impact of armed conflict in Southern Philippines and different parts of Asia and the Pacific on women. The radio productions were produced in popular formats such as radio drama, feature, radio plug and public service announcement. IWTC’s partnership with community radio is premised on the fact that community radio provides a room for diverse views to be heard and facilitates community participation in discussion on issues.

Following this first initiative and the peacebuilding cyberdialogues it organized during the 5th anniversary of UN SCR 1325, plans call for the production of local language radio productions in Nepali, Tetum, Portuguese and Indonesian (please see GlobalNet # 282). In early 2006, the African series will likewise be produced in English, French and Luganda.

The local language radio programmes and the peacebuilding cyberdialogues are parts of IWTC's long-term programme to develop a core group of community radio broadcasters, print journalists, and other media practitioners who will ensure an on-going flow of information to women at country and community level regarding the use of a global policy like the UNSCR 1325 as well as the existence of new legal mechanisms and how they can be used to protect and promote women's rights at country and community level.

3. AMARC Asia-Pacific Holds First Asia-Pacific Conference, Launch 16 Days Campaign Against Violence Against Women

One hundred and thirty community broadcasters and media activists from 19 Asia-Pacific countries gathered in Jakarta from November 24-27 2005 at the first Asia Pacific Conference of Community Radio Broadcasters, to found the Regional Section of the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC) and elect the regional board of AMARC Asia-Pacific.

Ashish Sen, Director of Voices (India) and newly elected President of AMARC Asia-Pacific, said, on behalf of the AMARC Asia-Pacific Board: “Legislation for community broadcasting, sustainability of the sector and the protection of journalists, are priority areas for the region. Cooperation within the region will be greatly strengthened by this new network so that we can all share and learn from each other’s experience.”

Participants at the conference unanimously adopted the “Jakarta Declaration” calling on governments to put in place a conducive legislative environment and regulatory mechanisms to enable community radio to flourish in all parts of the region. The Jakarta Declaration also confirmed the need to uphold human rights and freedom of expression and to promote these rights by all available means. It also called upon governments, multilateral and bilateral institutions to recognize community radio as a powerful medium that can play a key role in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

The community media broadcasters and advocates present at the conference noted the particular role of community radio in promoting women’s empowerment and gender equality. The Asia-Pacific section of the AMARC Women’s International Network (AMARC WIN) launched a radio campaign on November 25, to mark the beginning of 16 days of activism against violence against women. The theme of the AMARC WIN Asia-Pacific 16 days campaign was “Reclaim the night!” which highlights the women’s demand for freedom from all forms of violence at all times, and in all places. The AMARC WIN Asia-Pacific members denounced different forms of violence including rape, domestic violence, honor killing, serial killing, violence against migrant women, and the use of “war on terror.” They committed to use the power of community radio to continue to raise their voices against violence against women.

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