Gender Events at the World Summit on the Information Society and Post-Summit Plans

Friday, July 23 2010

The recently concluded World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) produced two major output documents: the Tunis Commitment and the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society. The documents are available at:|2267

The Tunis Commitment reaffirms the WSIS participants' support for the Geneva Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action adopted at the first phase of the WSIS in Geneva in December 2003. It recognizes “that a gender divide exists as part of the digital divide in society and reaffirms the commitment to women's empowerment and to a gender equality perspective, so that the divide will be overcome.” The second document, the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society, outlines the recommendations on Internet governance and the financial mechanisms for meeting the challenges of information and communication technologies (ICT) for development. It contains the following specific provisions in relation to women and gender:

  1. Build ICT capacity and confidence in the use of ICTs through the improvement and delivery of relevant education and training programmes and systems including lifelong and distance learning;
  2. Implement effective training and education, particularly in ICT science and technology, that motivates and promotes participation and active involvement of girls and women in the decision-making process of building the Information Society; and
  3. Develop specific gender-disaggregated indicators to measure the digital divide in its various dimensions.

Women's organizations actively involved in WSIS, drew attention to the need to build women's capacity in different levels including policy making on infrastructure development, financing, and technology choice. In their contribution to the civil society declaration, the women called for “real effort and commitment to transforming the masculinist culture embedded within existing structures and discourses of the information society which serves to reinforce gender disparity and inequality.” They also emphasized that financial structures and mechanisms need to be geared towards addressing the gender divide, including the provision of adequate budgetary allocations.

Women's groups organized a number of events, including: 1) The launch of “Gender Evaluation Methodology for Internet and ICTs” by the Association for Progressive Communications/Women's Networking Support Programme (APC/WNSP); 2) Presentation of the Gender and ICT awards - APC/WNSP; 3) Presentation of the results of the research competitions on Global Perspectives on Gender and ICTs - WSIS Gender Caucus; and 4) Debate on ICTs and women's human rights - WSIS Gender Caucus.

On the last day of WSIS, women's organizations and gender advocates discussed ways of continuing gender, media and ICT advocacy in a post-Summit scenario.

Women's organizations involved in WSIS who presented post-Summit plans included the African Women's Development and Communication Network (FEMNET), APC/WNSP, Feminist International Radio Endeavor, International Women's Tribune Centre, World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters/Women's International Network (AMARC/WIN), and the WSIS Gender Caucus. Plans included capacity building on gender and ICT issues for policy makers, production of popular training materials on gender and ICT, a feminist training school on lobbying, advocacy and negotiations, and lobbying and advocacy around the Internet Governance Forum. The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is one of the proposals outlined in the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society

Latin American women's organizations involved in WSIS also suggested organizing a workshop at the Know How Conference in Mexico in August 2006 to discuss women's reflections and analysis of gender, media and ICT advocacy. Media, ICTs and gender are key issues that will be discussed at the Know How conference.

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