Subject: [fem-women2000 333] WA : June 5 : Women Weaving Spaces on the Internet (fwd)
From: lalamaziwa <>
Date: Wed, 07 Jun 2000 09:01:24 -0400
Seq: 333

Forwarded by lalamaziwa <>
---------------- Original message follows ----------------
 From: karen banks <>
 To: Multiple recipients of list <>
 Date: Tue, 6 Jun 2000 07:15:55 +0200
 Subject: [B5NGONEWS] WA : June 5 : Women Weaving Spaces on the Internet

Women Weaving Spaces on the Internet

"It seems to me that women have a choice - to give up on the Net, or to 
start shaping the Net ourselves, before it gets any more misshapen." 
(Shaping the Internet for global justice, Agenda No.32, 1997, Agenda 
Editorial Collective)

Women's networks are nothing new. Women's social, political, formal and 
informal networks have existed for centuries. The core reason for the 
existence of networks, is usually to share information. ABANTU for 
Development notes that it is often one of the few tools that are freely 
accessible to women who may be marginalised by the processes and decisions 
that shape their lives.

Networks do not operate in isolation. They are affected by external 
environments which are often harsh for women in Africa. African women are 
not a homogenous group and African women's networks are diverse and 
complex. They are challenged by differences such as race, class, geographic 
location, access to essential resources such as education, land, water, 
health care and systems of credit. Electronic communication and access to 
new communication technologies are no exception. They are directly 
influenced by social reality.

Electronic networking has the potential to foster linkages between 
organisations, structures and projects. Geographical and national barriers 
can be broken. The Internet challenges the tension between local and global 
and makes information available that we would not otherwise have access to. 
Women's networks use the potential offered by the Internet to challenge 
gender injustice.

How Women's Groups and Individual Women are Using Electronic Communication
The Internet is being used by women's networks in various ways that 
include: communicating, finding and sharing information, peer support, 
lobbying and advocacy, solidarity campaigns and research to advocate more 
equitable access to new communication technologies for women. Practical 
applications include distributing alternative, balanced and equitable 
portrayals of women; exchange views, experiences and news with other gender 
activists, promoting local, regional and global petitioning; publish 
material; share and promote organisational work; access and disseminate 
up-to-date information from around the world.

The speed and immediacy of electronic communication makes it an effective 
tool for activists to employ when responding to issues which demand 
immediate attention. The Internet has a wide reach and crosses national and 
geographical boundaries and is particularly effective when urgent responses 
are needed.

Examples of how the Internet is being used by women's organisations are:

Information sharing, solidarity, support
Lobbying and advocacy
Information development and dissemination
Global Networking: crossing boundaries through a common issue (the Beijing 
process is a good example of this!)

Singing the praises of technology is not enough. Women are also putting in 
place mechanisms which support and develop women's use of new technologies. 
Some of the mechanisms are:
Education and Training
ICT policy intervention
Creating local, indigenous content
Training girls to use new technologies
Participatory Development: building web sites together
Democratising Access to Information: using 'old' and 'new' technologies

Given the ever-changing nature of ICTs, we cannot stand still and assume 
that we have reached a point where we understand them and utilise them 
adequately. Networks, or webs, by the same token, are changeable by their 
very nature.

Women in Africa are linking the implementation of ICTs to challenging the 
realities of poverty, sexual violence, political inequalities etc. locally 
and building a strong globally linked women's movement in Africa. 
Globalisation is at the heart of this type of networking. African women 
have the choice to weave into the global network, or stay outside and watch 
the shrinking world exclude Africa and not learn from issues that are truly 
African. Weaving webs is about movement. The impact we make on issues of 
social justice depends on how nimbly we make our way through the existing 
webs in drawing our own lines through it.

The use of electronic spaces is an example of how women are stretching the 
boundaries and divides that allow them to network, organise and change the 

Jenny Radloff
Sonja Boezak

                   GreenNet Limited/GreenNet Educational Trust
       Bradley Close, 74-77 White Lion Street, London, N1 9PF, England
                   tel: +44/171-713-1941  fax: +44/171-837-5551

 _________________________________________________________________________ for Women 2000, UN Special Session on Beijing+5
 Searcheable Archive
 visit fem-net HomePage for other mailing lists

Return to Index
Return to fem-women2000 HOME