NEW GENDER AND ICT POLICY WEBSITE HELPS WOMEN MAKE ICT POLICY A PRIORITY
Gender and technology activists, the APC WNSP, have launched GenderIT.org, a new information and communications technology (ICT) policy portal for women and policy-makers. GenderIT.org promotes the need for gender advocacy in ICT policy as well as the "how to" of pushing for policy change.
With the growth of infrastructure and access, ICTs are beginning to permeate even the most isolated regions. Access or lack of access to a medium that in some places has become a principal means of expression, economic survival, and decision-making is vital for women. Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations, has observed that: “There is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women.” However, the gender implications of ICT policy are seldom taken into consideration. The Association for Progressive Communications Women's Networking Support Programme (APC WNSP) developed GenderIT.org to broaden awareness of gender and ICTs and to offer a practical tool for ICT advocates, especially women’s organisations and movements to ensure that ICT policy meets their needs and does not infringe on their rights. “ICTs can assist in bringing food to the table or in promoting a reproductive rights agenda,” says Ruth Ojiambo Ochieng of the ISIS - Women's International Cross-Cultural Exchange in Uganda and a member of the APC WNSP's worldwide network. What does GenderIT.org feature? The issues: GenderIT.org spell outs technology policy issues and implications so that women's activists can clearly see the links to their work in the defence of women's human rights. Worldwide perspective: GenderIT.org offers special focus on Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, and Latin America. Regular news features come from GenderIT.org's policy-writers living in those regions. Events and Who's who in policy?: GenderIT.org presents the main actors and arenas for ICT policy from the global level right down to the national scene. Resources and articles: GenderIT.org links local to global, to ensure that activists at home can take advantage of advances in international policy instruments and processes. It highlights local and regional ICT policy examples and implications. Policy-makers' section: GenderIT.org provides orientation for policy makers too on how to draft gender-sensitive national ICT plans. Anti-jargon: GenderIT.org demystifies ICT policy and technical language. As a clearing-house for all resources, papers, and articles on gender and ICT policy issues, GenderIT.org helps gender and ICT advocates keep informed on pressing ICT policy issues and frameworks being planned nationally, regionally and globally. Who's using GenderIT.org? GenderIT.org is an open platform for ANY gender and ICT advocate to publish her/his work. It brings together diverse actors to build partnerships and alliances. "The Monitor project is a critical and unique tool to build our technological literacy so that staff and partners have easy access to resources that help us to understand the issues related to access, content and policy,” comments Deputy Director Joanne Sandler at the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM). “This is important for ongoing work to support women's rights organising and particularly timely in the lead up to the World Summit on the Information Society, where we need to secure a clear and unswerving commitment to incorporating women's interests and perspectives in ICT policy-making." “Engendering policy is a hard-enough task. The ICT-gender combination makes advocacy in developing countries that much harder. You need to address multiple audiences and tailor communication to specific audiences. The APC WNSP GenderIT site is a wonderful resource that addresses these needs and provides ammunition to gender advocates like me,” says Anita Gurumurthy, Director of Advocacy at ITforChange.net based in Bangalore, India. The creators of GenderIT.org hope that the portal will encourage more women to become part of the ICT policy processes worldwide. “Our participation in gender and ICT policy is critical because we need policies to enable every individual's right to communicate. If we leave it as it is, it will be very difficult for us to agree that we are building an information society - as the majority will be left out,” affirms Ojiambo Ochieng.