started writing
this blog at Doha
Airport in transit, and continued after a week in distance from the
hectic madness that is Tunis. It can be difficult to reflect on an
event in the midst of grappling with the many strains of issues and
conversations that are simultaneously happening. Here, I am
attempting to regroup some of the thoughts and experiences that I
collected during that one week, and offer a four part blog on some
post-WSIS reflections

In terms of gender, information
communications technologies (ICTs) and the ‘information society’
is slowly creeping into the agendas of women’s movements. It is at
a painfully slow rate, and a LOT of work still needs to be done to
find political investments in this issue. Some connections can be
seen from the development trajectory, and foreseeably, from the
perspective of international trade and globalisation.

In some way,
WSIS has instigated the process, and isolated, individual gender
advocates and/or political geekettes had a common space to meet,
network, exchange and build from each other’s knowledge and
experiences. The networks formed will no doubt continue, and the WSIS
Gender Caucus regional meetings have motivated feminist activists in
different fields to come together and discuss about the relationship
between ICTs and their work.

However, there are still many, many
gender dimensions to draw out from this field that requires a much
larger and diverse engagement from multiple women’s movements. At
least there is the legacy of efforts by the WSIS Gender Caucus and
NGO Gender Strategies Working Group that ensured the incorporation of
gender into the WSIS documents to work from. It really depends how
gender advocates who have been involved in WSIS and peripheral
processes will continue to politicise ICTs as a women’s rights
issue in multiple locations. At a WSIS Gender Caucus side event, one
of the laments raised was the lack of participation from the wider
women’s movement in this field. I think this is an urgent gap the
necessitates further thought and strategising.

Whose responsibility is it to engage
women everywhere on the importance of ICTs? Is it really all that
important when most women struggle to attain basic necessities like
food and clean water? What are ICTs defined as, and the assumptions
underlying the meaning of an ‘information society’ when this
question is raised as relevant? From whose perspectives are these
characterisations made? What about connections between ICTs and the
various other issues that women’s movements have been struggling on
for years, such as bodily integrity, autonomy, health, freedom from
violence and the right to create our own narratives about the world
we live in?

All these questions and more need to be
addressed for post-WSIS. The WSIS Gender Caucus has dissolved at the
last day of the WSIS Tunis, and a strategising meeting between
different advocates and networks working on gender and ICTs was held
to figure out the next best thing to do. Though WSIS is over, the
struggles to surface gender as one unequivocal aspect of technology
and communications is far from concluded. For it to gain strength,
there is a definite need to widen our connections between movements,
fields and knowledge.

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