The Gender and Citizenship in the Information Society (CITIGEN), launched in 2010, is an Asia-wide research programme co-ordinated by IT for Change and supported by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). It aims to explore how marginalised women can aspire to take advantage of the promise of ICTs for greater social inclusion.
As part of this process CITIGEN hopes to build a network of researchers and scholars engaged in policy research and advocacy on information society and gender issues in the Asia region. Currently six research partners from Sri Lanka, the Philippines, China, Thailand/Taiwan, Bangladesh and India are studying various aspects of this issue , and four eminent scholars from Costa Rica, Pakistan, Thailand and Germany will be adding their perspectives to further enrich the research process.
On 26-28 April 2011, IT for Change organised a Review Workshop for the research programme in the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. The objectives of the workshop were:
- Review and reflect upon the emerging insights from each research project in relation to the questions and core concepts of the programme.
- Adopt a "big picture" approach that defines the programmes underlying principles.
- In keeping with these principles, explore the elements of a 'Southern' discourse on women's citizenship in the information society and its implications for practice and policy at national and global levels.
The workshop aimed at voicing the emerging concepts and tentative theories from the ongoing work in the CITIGEN network and channelling these into a debate on the larger questions of democratic structures and institutions. It also focused on their shifting meanings for marginalised women's participation in the information society as equal citizens. In order to expand and deepen the debates and discussions, a few scholars working on feminist frameworks from a Southern perspective, who are potential contributors to the network's research, were invited to comment and present their perspectives on the project's ongoing work.
Spread over three days, the workshop began on the 26th with presentations of the research undertaken by the six country teams. On the 27th, Anita Gurumurthy, the CITIGEN Co-ordinator, gave a presentation on the new ideas being raised by the programme followed by thematic discussions. A number of researchers, scholars and practitioners presented their views on: democracy and women's participation; ICT-mediated processes for making institutions work for women; feminist spaces in the network society; engendering resistance, forging community and creating identity; new articulations of citizenship in the information society and issues at stake; and the nature of participation in virtual reality / real virtuality.
The second half of 28th was dedicated to discussion and reflection, pulling together the thoughts from the workshop and deciding on the next steps of the network.
A detailed account of CITIGEN discussions and work can be found at the links below:
For the complete CITIGEN: April 2011 Review Workshop Report.
For interviews of some participating scholars.
Arpita Joshi works currently with IT for Change as a Research Associate in the area of gender. Her areas of interest include women's empowerment, women and violence, globalisation and governance reforms, development induced displacement. Arpita is based in Bangalore, India.