Why are we here? Women participants at the IGF told us why they came to Athens
Why are we here?
Women (and men) from NGOs, governments, and private sector came to the ongoing Internet Governance Forum in Athens, Greece with different agenda. However, many of them are also uncertain whether those agenda will be addressed or not in this gathering that is described as a big brainstorming session. To have a better idea regarding the range of agenda as well as expectations, I’ve been asking the women participants in this Forum about their reason for coming to the Forum. Here are some of the responses I’ve gathered so far:
Marsha Guthrie (Jamaica): [I’m hoping that] we can move forward with the whole issue of the internet governance because the talks have stagnated I hope this inaugural meeting will re-start the process and deal with the real issues of openness and access for developing countries and multilingualism and move forward.
Sam Dickinson, Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (Australia): I'm here at IGF as part of the technology community. My personal interest is about how to bridge the divide between the tech community that originally developed the Internet and the many Internet users and stakeholders who now need to be involved in Internet development. Professionally, I'm here to represent the Asia Pacific Internet community and get ideas about how to get more people involved in tech policy development in our region.
Connie Chan (Australia): I am here to learn about how multi-stakeholders get together and discuss issues about internet governance from different perspectives. I am also interested in seeing how the conference is organized.
Virginia Paque (Venezuela): I’m here as part of DIPLO Foundation - Diplomacy International. We’re involved in Internet Governance capacity building for development — to build policy capacity and to use IT for development. Personally, I advocate for better use of education — pushing the envelope and its tools to involve people who need to be here. How could we be talking of development when developing countries are not here? Even remote participation was not made possible – what a contradiction in terms – we’re not using the internet to ensure participation in this Forum.
Blogger’s note: An IGF Discussion Space has been set up on the four themes of the IGF – i.e., openness, security, diversity, and access. However, we have yet to see how interactive and participatory this space is. Yesterday (30 October 2006) the organizers announced that feedback and inputs to the Forum may also be sent to this address: comments@ igf2006.info.
Danielle Nieuwenhuijse SIDN – Dutch Registry (.nl) (Netherlands): I’m here to see what will happen with [the issues around] security, spam, multi-stakeholder approach, and networking. I’m curious how the relationship between the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the US Department of Commerce (DOC) will evolve. ICANN is very US dominated. It will be good if there is a commission with more participation from different countries so it is open and transparent.
Blogger’s note: Danielle’s concern was discussed in yesterday’s plenary session. Minister Liapis of Greece and Minister Kamel of Egypt both stated that there have been initial steps taken towards ICANN’s enhanced autonomy. A month ago, ICANN released a statement that they have signed a new agreement with the US DOC that guarantees greater independence in managing the Internet's System of Unique Identifiers. More debates on ICANN’s autonomy and mandate are expected to take place in the coming days.
Namita Malhotra - Alternative Law Forum (India): My participation in the IGF is as much about curiosity and the desire to intervene in the discourse on internet governance policy, which probably is the least punctured or disrupted by realities that are not male, heteronormative and white. To bring into the discussion realities (and fantasies) that are brown, black, yellow, identities that are female, transgender, beyond gender, desires that are queer, beyond laws.
I will continue asking women why they are here throughout the Forum.