1 November: Gender advocates called for set-up of 'Gender in WSIS Implementation Network'

APC WNSP called a meeting of gender advocates who are present at the IGF here in Athens. There were 8 of us who met today, November 1 2006 at 1:30 pm. This number actually corresponds with the low representation of women and gender issues at this forum.


The idea was to discuss and plan gender advocacy during the IGF as well as other post-WSIS activities that are to happen in future and thus enhance the just-set-up Gender in WSIS Implementation Network (GENWIN).


GENWIN is an informal information exchange and advocacy strategy network for advocacy groups and strategic allies in donor, multilateral, and private sector organisations that are involved in promoting gender equality in the post-WSIS process. APC WNSP is one of the initiators of the network. It was Sophia Huyer, the Executive Director of Women and Global Science and Technology (WIGSAT), who has been actively participating in the post-WSIS activities and suggested the name of GENWIN.


In the meeting today, we went through activities and events that belong to the post-WSIS journey and are relevant for an effective gender issues follow up. First of all, there is the IGF including its three meetings starting with this current one in Athens.


Another space to follow is the Global Alliance for ICT and Development UNGAID (http://www.un-gaid.org/). Its first meeting took place in Kuala Lumpur, 19-20 June 2006 (http://www.un-gaid.org/kl06/). Part of the the modalities of work in UNGAID are the so called Communities of Expertise. These are thematic groups established by a mandate from the Steering Committee to carry out a well-defined, specific task or tasks, within one or more focus areas in the Alliance. Two proposals for Communities of Expertise related to gender were already submitted (one by IT for Change, http://www.itforchange.net/, and another one by The Center for Women and Information Technology at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, http://www.umbc.edu/cwit/).


The third thread to follow is the United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development (UNCSTD), http://www.unctad.org/Templates/Page.asp?intItemID=2696&lang=1.


The United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women (http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/, UNDAW), which also put an effort into following up on WSIS and organized an event as part of this year's Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). It was rather corporate oriented, as Mavic, who attended on behalf of IWTC, informed us. Similar event will probably be repeated next year.


The reform of the UN is in major focus right now. A proposal for the new gender architecture within the UN will be presented on November 9 (including the new position of UNIFEM) and it is useful for us for follow it up.


The question we asked ourselves at the today's meeting was how to integrate gender advocacy into the post-WSIS activities.


APC WNSP will be realising the post-WSIS gender advocacy through the IGF by following the theme of content regulation, and making efforts of bringing in more women's voices, gender lens, and participation in discussions. The next meeting in our focus will take place in Rio de Janeiro and the there are plans already being discussed by women in the Latin American region.


During our meeting today, we have also decided that public intervention around the alarmingly low representation of women in this forum has to be made. We will draft a statement and read it out at the summing up session on the last day.

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