[EDITORIAL] Fortitude and transformative energy in the AWID Forum: experiences from 2002 to 2016

5 October 2016

A new AWID International Forum has taken on the challenge to continue strengthening the feminist movement with the energy that comes from thousands of women from around the world coming together; willing to work towards eradicating discrimination and gender violence.

In this 13th edition of the Forum, activists, feminist groups and social organizations who participated, show that here is a movement that is moving confidently towards a future where feminists are heard, where they have influence to achieve substantial social changes and to lead these transformations.

Having participated in the various forums that were held from 2002 to date, it has been a constant inspiration to see the growth of the feminist movement in goals and themes. There is no longer any crucial social, economic, cultural, environment or political issue or situation that is not addressed with a gender perspective that demands equal rights, thoroughness and commitment, and challenges a prevailing system that exploits nature and has no problem silencing those who question it. Plenary sessions and dozens of workshops and panel sessions organized by the participants make us realize the great diversity of commitments and interests that engross feminists in their daily actions. What is significant is that they do it with collective spirit.

Plenary sessions and dozens of workshops and panel sessions organized by the participants make us realize the great diversity of commitments and interests that engross feminists in their daily actions. What is significant is that they do it with collective spirit.

When I first attended the AWID International Forum in Guadalajara in 2002, the internet was a fairly static and formal network and the use of technologies was limited to email and sending documents. Needless to point out all the changes since then in the field of information and communication technologies. In 2002 the Forum discussed “Reinventing Globalization” and women began to take technology in their hands so that reinvention was gestated among all, and electronic networks helped to articulate those objectives.

In 2005, in Bangkok, we asked “How does change happen?” And from APC we brought the experience of the implementation of the GEM methodology i.e. Gender Evaluation Methodology, which led us to plan, implement and evaluate communication technology programmes and projects with a gender perspective. If no gender perspective permeates our projects from the very start, it will be difficult to achieve the expected changes.

If no gender perspective permeates our projects from the very start, it will difficult to achieve the expected changes.

In 2008 the theme of AWID was “The Power of Movements”. That year the APC Women’s Rights Programme organized prior to the AWID Forum the first Feminist Tech Exchange (FTX), which gathered 100 women from different continents to share knowledge and technology practices. We also installed a hub that worked during the forum for practice and learning new technological tools in order to continue encouraging and facilitating the empowerment of women through networks and the internet. FTX became a space for women’s freedom of expression conducive to strengthening feminist activism and tools.

In 2012, the AWID Forum convened in Istanbul the largest number of participants achieved so far, about 2200. With the aim to “transform economic power to advance women’s rights and justice” APC did sessions on practical technology and online security training for human rights defenders and activists, who are vocal in risky areas, where challenges to the economic, political, religious or territorial powers threaten their integrity and freedoms.

In 2016, in the Feminist Internet Exchange hub APC started to open spaces for greater expression around the forum’s theme “Feminist Future: building collective power for rights and justice”. There, women discussed sexuality, online violence, creating technology and new applications, digital activism and communication rights. The Radio Concha initiative broadcasted short interviews and podcasts, supported by connectivity provided by an autonomous cellular network. The hub also was the space for an exciting sexting session with transmission of live text, which had the enthusiastic participation of about 40 women.

With the participation of 1,700 people from 140 countries, this year’s AWID Forum showed that the feminist movement keeps growing stronger worldwide. The internet and social networks have already established tools and spaces, and plays an important role in building the movement. A role that gets bigger as feminists of all ages, ethnicities, cultures and diversities get hold of technology to challenge, create and transform, build roads to transit to our feminist futures.

In this special edition of GenderIT.org we share the experiences and reflections on the recent 13th AWID International Forum, in which a large group of women from APC Women’s Rights Programme, from different countries and regions, participated enthusiastically. We contributed there to the construction of a feminist internet!

An open letter of thanks to AWID
Helen Nyinakiiza
A letter of thanks from a first timer. The Association for Women in Development has been in existence for 30 years, and has regularly been holding conferences and meetings. In the recent AWID forum 2016, women from very diverse contexts came together, to radically re-imagine and co-create feminist futures.
http://www.genderit.org/node/4812

The backbone of our thirsty complicities: from internet hiccups to collective synapsis at AWID 2016
Ganesh
At AWID Forum 2016, the FIX hub team comprising of Luchadoras, APC-WRP, Radio Concha and others got together to put up an autonomous internet network. Here are the learnings from that experience, that are global in scale and terrifying in their implication for our ubiquitous use of technology.
http://www.genderit.org/node/4816/

What can be the feminist politics of freedom of speech? Or how not to have a binary debate on online violence
Hvale
The discourse on technology related violence against women is often pulled into a binary debate vis-a-vis freedom of expression. But what if we could imagine and articulate a feminist politics of free speech..
http://www.genderit.org/node/4814

Public. Autonomous. Anonymous. Group. Sexting. Oh yeah!
Loreto Bravo and Erika Smith
“Welcome to the Feminist Internet eXchange Hub! Make sure you come back tonight for some group sexting – public, autonomous, anonymous, group sexting!” we called to women as they stumbled in to explore our feminist internet exchange space at AWID Feminist Futures Forum, 2016.
http://www.genderit.org/node/4817

Tools for movement builders: ICT toolkit and We Rise – Just Associates
Jennifer
How can we develop a feminist communication strategy, whilst making safe and sustainable choices amongst the array of available ICT tools? – Just Associates shares their ICT toolkit for WHRDs, feminists and others.
http://www.genderit.org/node/4813

We can’t do it alone: Connections at AWID 2016
Namita
AWID was a massive burst of energy and radical politics. Here we explore the sessions at AWID held by Dalit women, Romani women, Rojava/Kobane women, and others.
http://www.genderit.org/node/4823/

Mapping the feminist internet: the Whose Knowledge? campaign at the AWID Forum Anasuya Sengupta and Siko Bouterse
The project Whose Knowledge? is a radical re-imagining and reconstruction of the internet, so that the internet can truly be from and for us all.
http://www.genderit.org/node/4810

Coming Back to Tech
Carol
What happens ‘the day after’ an attack of online violence? What happens after the more urgent crisis phase(s) of a campaign of harassment passes?
http://www.genderit.org/node/4805

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