Subject: [fem-women2000 507] GENDER-BALANCED INFO REVOLUTION 2000.07 ECOSOC (short version)
From: lalamaziwa <>
Date: Thu, 31 Aug 2000 04:29:41 +0900
Seq: 507


ECOSOC July 2000


Anne S. Walker, Ph.D.
(Conference of NGOs at UN, Task Force on Gender Issues- ITU, 
WomenAction 2000, Executive Director of International Women's 
Tribune Centre)

Mr President, I am speaking today on behalf of both the Tunisia 21 NGO
Association, who were unable to be present at this meeting today, and an
NGO Global Communications Network for Women, set up to increase access
to information around the Beijing plus Five Special Session. More
specifically, this presentation proposes the need for an ICT Gender
Action Plan to be implemented with the support of a facility established
under the auspices of the United nations.

Mr. President, an information and communications revolution is taking
place worldwide. It has become increasingly apparent that information
and communications are fundamental to the achievement of a world that is
gender-equitable, sustainable, just and peaceful. Women play an enormous
role in the development of their communities, but without access to the
information they want and need, without a means of public expression and
without the ability to share knowledge, they are severely handicapped.
Shutting women out of the information and communication revolution
handicaps the development of all. 

The statement from the Tunisia 21 NGO Association states that: "The
explosion of information technology in the world today means that women
who lack skills and access to the information super highway are even
more disempowered than before. An action plan to involve women must
include the development of targeted methods for taking the benefits of
the information revolution to women. Women's networks should use the
worldwide web to create our news and views....... We believe that
information technology is central to poverty reduction, which in turn is
central to the empowerment of women. Indeed, ICTs offer immense
possibilities for reducing poverty, improving governance and advancing
gender equality in North Africa provided they are made more accessible
and consciously applied toward the achievement of these objectives." 

The Tunisia 21 NGO Association has undertaken computer training sessions
for members of NGOs and the setting up of a computer center equipped
with PC's for children at a hospital in Tunis. The Association believes
that the range of applications for technologies in North Africa is
endless, and includes: electronic commerce; governance; education;
health; agriculture and environmental and natural resource management.
They recommend that capacity building to ensure gender equity and
empowerment with regard to ICTs should be integrated into the national
education curriculum, and that mobile Internet services and kiosks
should have a specific focus on women and girls. 

Mr. President, a coalition of more than 40 women's media networks
worldwide has formed a global NGO communications network for women.
Known as WomenAction 2000, this network, in the space of one year, has
set up a global web-site and regional websites in Africa, Asia/Pacific,
Latin America/Caribbean, Eastern and Western Europe and North America.
Plans call for links with emerging community telecentres in Africa,
Asia/Pacific and Latin America/Caribbean, providing access to
appropriate information for women in those regions. WomenAction 2000 has
undertaken global and regional workshops to train women from every world
region in the construction of web-sites, the facilitating of regional
and national dialogues, and the "repackaging" of information downloaded
>from the internet, -information that is transformed into radio
programmes, brochures, newsletters, posters, etc, using local languages.

At Beijing Plus Five, WomenAction 2000, in collaboration with the
Conference of NGOs in Consultative Relationship with the UN, undertook a
full programme of information sharing and dissemination so that women
worldwide could participate in the discussions underway in New York.
Regional focal points downloaded and distributed the daily newspapers
(one international, one with a focus on Africa) prepared by WomenAction
2000 teams in New York. Via interactive radio and TV webcasts, women
worldwide took part in live discussions around important agenda items.
An Internet Cafe ran throughout each day, making it possible for
hundreds of women to be in daily contact with their home groups and
media contacts. A Global Media project brought 20 women writers and
journalists for training in use of ICTs and in coverage of women's

Finally, Mr. President, we recommend that: 

* The United Nations (UN), at the Millennium Assembly in September 2000,
proclaims the right of democratic and equitable access to information
and communication services, such as the Internet and community services
such as telecentres, with a focus on access for women and other
marginalized groups, as an important new component of the United Nations
principles and conventions on human rights and development;

* The Task Force on Gender Issues (TFGI) established by the
International Telecommunications Union (ITU), World Telecommunication
Development Conference (Valletta 1998) and unanimously endorsed by the
Plenipotentiary Conference (Minneapolis 1998), be strengthened so that
it can play a more decisive role in ensuring that telecommunications
services and programmes are widely available equally to men and women
and in ensuring gender equality within the ITU. To effectively reach
these goals, particularly women's democratic and equitable participation
in ITU policy decision-making process, the TFGI should have the
necessary resources for its recommendations to be meaningfully

* The mandate of the ITU/TFGI "to secure financial and other resources
to carry out its work, including through partnerships with the private
sector, multilateral development finance bodies and other donors", be
expanded to direct the attention of and solicit resources from corporate
members of ITU towards supporting democratic and equitable access to
telecommunications services for women and other marginalized groups.

* That an ICT Gender Task Force be set up by the UN Secretary General to
bring together all departments and specialized agencies of the UN system,
multilateral development institutions, private industry,
foundations/trusts, mass media and NGOs, including women's information
and communication networks, to develop an ICT Gender Action Plan. Such
an Action Plan would address the broader issues and obstacles identified,
including the need for training in both hardware and software usage, the
development of networks and online dialogues, the management of
information and communication projects and enterprises, etc.;

* A facility be created to carry out the ICT Gender Action Plan with
monies solicited from a variety of sources, including private industry,
foundations and trusts, and Member State contributions. The facility
could leverage additional resources through matching programmes within
countries. It is suggested that UNIFEM may be the most appropriate UN
agency to administer such a facility. This facility could be integrated
into the Global Knowledge II (Malaysia 2000) recommendation for a Gender
and ICT Replication and Learning Fund.

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