[WSIS CS-Plenary] WSIS-Gender Caucus e-discussion: Gender issues in the Tunis Phase
sfernandez at genderwsis.org
Wed Jul 20 18:27:16 BST 2005
Dear Colleagues, Partners and Friends,
The WSIS Gender Caucus is organizing an email-based discussion forum on identifying and integrating gender perspectives into the WSIS deliberations at PrepCom3 in September and the Tunis Summit in November.
This discussion, organized and moderated under the Electronic Networking Project component of the WSIS Gender Caucus, will be for a period of three weeks, from July 25th to August 13th 2005.
This online discussion is aimed at furthering the efforts of the Gender Caucus to integrate gender perspectives and concerns into the WSIS deliberations, and to further explore the concrete measures that will enable us to achieve this integration.
As we move towards Tunis 2005, we call for your participation to help create a collective understanding of gender perspectives in four critical areas:
1.. Internet Governance:
There is a general agreement that we need to adopt a multi-stakeholder approach to Internet Governance. The recently released WGIG report also underscores the importance of gender balanced representation in all aspects of Internet Governance, if we are to have a system that is equitable and democratic. In addition, the gendered construction of all technology makes it imperative that we embed gender concerns in the evolution of the Internet. Hence it is vital that we engage in the current debates on a multi-lateral vs. multi-stakeholder approach, and public versus private leadership in Internet Governance. These issues are raised in the WGIG report and will form the backdrop of our discussions as the report raises many questions - How does Internet Governance concern the interests of women? What do gender equality advocates think about these issues? What are the important issues related to Internet Governance with which gender equality advocates and women's rights activists must be engaged?
2.. Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and WSIS:
Many argue that the WSIS process reflects a strong technologically deterministic approach to development. In this scenario we have to bring development agenda back into WSIS. Some suggest that an MDG focus, for which the WSIS was in fact mandated by the UN General Assembly, is a good peg to achieve this. However, there are others who feel that such a focus on MDGs is limiting and constraining on ICTD opportunities presented by WSIS. Such debates raise interesting questions - Do investments in technology and structural changes implied in ICTD frameworks provide a new way to look at global debates on development priorities and development assistance? Can MDGs be achieved without such investments in enabling technologies and consequent structural changes? Are such opportunities for structural and institutional change the best time to get gender perspectives and concerns considered?
3.. Funding and Financing Mechanisms for ICTD:
Markets and the private sector have rightly taken much of the credit for the IT revolution. The question however, is - Are market mechanisms adequate to take the benefit of the new ICTs to everyone, especially disadvantaged groups, such as women? Is it enough for the role of public institutions to be restricted to providing a regulatory environment that enables private investment in meeting goals of social equity? What is the role of public and community finance in providing for not just cheap/free connectivity but also appropriate technology (telecom, software, hardware) and capacity? Does the basic technology infrastructure and capabilities represent a global public good, like education, that needs to be provided to all as a public responsibility? Or will such efforts of extensive public investments undercut the innovation-incentive system represented by market-based strategies, and thus be counter productive? How are issues of costs and coverage of rural/far flung areas of special significance for women? How critical are interoperability and interconnection of infrastructure at regional, sub regional and national levels for reducing cost of access?
4.. Implementation and Follow-up of WSIS:
For gender equality advocates it has been easy to adopt a gender sensitive approach at the level of ideals and principles. But it seems that there is a difficulty in pushing for this approach into specific plans of action. In the WSIS documents as one moves on from the preambles and opening statements through plans of actions and to actual implementation, the references to 'lofty ideals' of gender equality rapidly diminish. It is therefore important for us to discuss which organizations should play a pivotal role in the implementation stage, and which other organizations should play necessary supplementing roles? Which ones are poised to take up the responsibility, and what is their record on gender issues? Which ones can be expected to represent the interests of women better/ what should be the role of specialized agencies representing women's interests like the UNIFEM? What principles should be laid down to ensure a gender-equal representation in any multi-stakeholder body, which will have an implementation/ follow up role?
WHAT DO WE WANT TO ACHIEVE
Our discussions have a two-fold objective:
1.. We hope that this discussion will enable us to identify, discuss and integrate gender perspectives into the upcoming WSIS deliberations in Geneva (prepcom 3) and Tunis.
2.. We would like to create a space for wider participation of women in the WSIS process.
We hope that our discussions will provide us with deep and significant insights that will enable the Gender Caucus to develop well-articulated position papers on crucial issues at stake at WSIS which can be used for advocacy-based activities at WSIS.
HOW TO PARTICIPATE
Joining this discussion list is very easy!
Just send a blank email to mailadmin at genderwsis.org
You will automatically be subscribed to the 4 discussion lists running concurrently (one for each theme namely, Internet governance; Millennium Development Goals and WSIS; Funding and Financing Mechanisms for ICTD; Implementation and Follow-up of WSIS).
The discussion list is being moderated by Anu Mundkur from IT for Change. Email: anu at ITforChange.net
If you face any subscription problem, please contact the WSIS Gender Caucus Electronic Consultant Taran Rampersad at cnd at knowprose.com or the WSIS Gender Caucus Manager Susana Fernandez at sfernandez at genderwsis.org
For more information about the forum, visit the WSIS Gender Caucus website www.genderwsis.org
We would be grateful if you could help us disseminate this call for participation to your networks, organizations or to individuals that may be interested to engage in these issues.
Thank you, and looking forward to some interesting and useful discussions soon.
WSIS Gender Caucus
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