Third day of the Forum... okay, I'm skipping on writing on certain days. I should be writing on my reflections of the second day, but today at plenary, I heard something I strongly disagreed with. Financing is a problem for NGOs and the women's movement generally. Everyone agrees with this. Everyone struggles with it. Everyone is tired from the challenges of it. But to suggest that NGOs with better connections help to raise funds for others. India sort of adopts this, because they want NGOs who are credible only to get funds so "mother NGOs" do this gatekeeping, channelling funds to others only if they think them credible enough. What are we going to create if we do this raising funds for others? I don't want MNCs in the women's movement. I think it only creates further hierarchies of power and concentration of power and influence in the hands of a few. I think this goes against all the values and principles that the feminist movement professes. I think those with influence need to advocate for funding to be chanelled to more NGOs, new groups, old groups, not so known groups, not so connected groups. I think those with influence and connections need to help mobilise more funds but get these channeled directly to the NGOs concerned. I think that those with influence and connections need to urge funders to take more risks, be more inclusive, be less hung up about a country's supposed economic developed status, and look more closely at social justice status, gender equality status. Time to walk the talk, but it seems like funders and the women's movement can't escape the social, economic and political divisions that we are all trying to challenge in our corners.
Are ICTs Changing Women's Lives and Organisations? This was the central question in the last apcwomen-organised workshop held on Day 2 of the AWID Forum.The session was mainly about the Gender Evaluation Methodology (GEM) for Internet and ICTs, but instead of doing the same old "What is GEM? Why was GEM developed? What are Gender and ICT Indicators? Here's How You Can Use This Uber Wonderful, Life-changing Piece of Heaven" kind of workshop, the apcwomen opted to try out something (a little bit) new.
Of course, we didn't completely get rid of the basic "What is GEM?" part of the programme, but Chat managed to limit that bit to a few minutes the opened the floor for questions and feedback from the participants. We also managed to get other people (outside of the former GEM Team) who have had experience in using GEM in their initiatives to talk about the main question and their experience in using GEM.
What blew my mind away was what the GEM Practitioners had to say about the life-changing effects / potentials of ICTs on women's lives and the transformative value that using GEM had on their initiatives and perceptions on the intersections between gender and ICTs.
All of the GEM Practitioners who participated in the session were positive that ICTs do change women's lives and their organisations. Their examples ranged from how a women's network in Brazil became more transparent and democratic because they were using ICTs for their adminstration and decision-making, to how equipping women with the means to document VAW in a rural community in Uganda led to women demanding for better and faster services from the local government in addressing VAW cases in the community.
Jivka, from Bulgaria, who was one of the GEM Testers way (waaaaaay) back in 2002 - 2003, said that one of the results of their organisation's use of the GEM Tool (in evaluating a VAW campaign which used online tools to raise awareness among young people, particularly boys, on the issue) was that her organisation realised that they needed to set up a new organisation in Bulgaria that will focus on gender and ICT issues. GEM actually led to the birth of a new organisation? It freakin' boggles the mind.
Then Mahmud from D.Net in Bangladesh talked about how their use of GEM re-focus their perception on the impact of their Pallitathya Helpline project on rural communities and women. He specifically mentioned that one of the most important things they learned from GEM was the importance of the "negative stakeholders" (non-users / -beneficiaries of an initiative) in evaluating the impact of ICT for development initiatives in rural communities -- that looking at why some groups / individuals in a community do not use or benefit from an initiative adds substantive nuances to understanding their initiative. More importantly, he mentioned that using GEM got them thinking about the long-term effects of their initiative on women, particularly those who were heavily involved in their project.
Personally, it was very heartening / encouraging / inspiring / just plain wonderful to know that an initiative that apcwomen have spent resources (way beyond the financial kind), sweat, blood and tears in order to develop, test, implement and finalise has had such positive effects on its users / practitioners. All that hard work put into GEM suddenly felt like every minute of sleepless nights, and every strand of hair torn out for every snag developing GEM has hit was completely worth it. If people and their organisations are changing towards a better understanding of ICTs, gender and the relationship/s between the two as a result of using GEM, then I'd say all apcwomen and partners who had a hand in developing GEM should go out and celebrate tonight. We've definitely earned it.
Sheesh. I'm beginning to sound like a gender and ICT evangelist (Yeah! ICTs good. ICTs are our friends. ICTs empower women! Praise be ICTs!), and lest this entry turns into a gush-session on how ICTs are a gift from god, I'd better shift gears.
Or head for bed.
- mood:droopy eyes, brain awake, bad combo
- background music:the hum of the aircondoiition
Second day of AWID forum I find myself in a mood of screeming!
No Central and Eastern Europe present here! In numbers, oh yeah, we are here, over 300 of us. There are also few sessions that include speakers from our region. But messages are not coming across the broader forum. Women from all over the world are not getting information about what is going on with us!
Today, the movie showed in the morning plenary called 'Three Moves Deep: Planning for the Future of Women's Human Rights," brought into discussion major issues effecting women's lives and women's rights all over the world nowadays. These were fundamentalisms, new technologies, global power, climate changes and economic inequalities. Different women activists and researchers were interviewed in the movie to describe the various realities of women struggling as a result of the global processes. The video also shooted different locations illustrating the realities of women's lives.
Not a single one was from a post-soviet country, no activist from this part of the world was interviewed, none example was showed from near where I live.
Why is that? I'm split between being far from blaming the producers of the video and actually blaming them for not putting enough effort into discovering the region and its women. I think that the problem is deeper.
This morning, at a killing hour of 7:15 am :(, the second CEE caucus happened. The red thread of the discussion was around how our region (here represented by the whole range of post-communist countries, from Central Asia and Caucausus, through Russia, ex-soviet republics, Baltics, Balkans and Central European Countries - now already part of the EU) can and should contribute, if we have a voice, is the voice unified, and do we actually have things to say and in whose name and who would represent us.
I wanna talk about this! Yes, sisters, lets look at ourselves! What do we have to say in 2005 at the international forum of AWID? What is the women's movement like the CEE these days? I wanna talk about money, institutionalisation of feminism, gender mainstreaming and what it causes to critical feminist thinking and potencial for activism. I wanna talk about expertise and who is the expert and why, legitimacy and representation, post-communism and the EU funding such as Equal or the Social Fund in general and who is benefiting from it. I wanna look at research and how its being used or not being used to support activism and our arguments and whom it serves. I wanna talk about class vis-a-vis women's movement in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Lets also look at who is now running women's organisations in the name of feminism that were started in the early 90s out of enthusiasm and true belief in change? Who is a young feminist in CEE? Is it me because I'm 29? Who is an old feminist? Is it me because I've been out there for 8 years and I'm - yes true, I'm sorry - tired? (Is there a younger chick who can refresh my ideas, please? - this call for youth is so much used in this forum. Young women bring new ideas! Lets bring young!)
Am I being too cynical or over-critical? Too radical? Too many paradoxes, personal, social, political, it can make one explode!
Anyway, I'm just trying to express that we have things to share and contribute in this forum. We are only somehow missing the voice. Those voices are probably not in this forum. But yes, we do work hard to mess up the "game of chess, where governments and multinational corporations are thinking several moves ahead" and make lives of women better. Multinational corporations made major damages was to our countries, so the EU did by its agricultural policy and many directives (of course not the gender equality ones! that's where we get caught up - EU was a wonderful opportunity to advance gender legislation, but shall we stay blind to its other effects???!).
Gonna go dancing now! Feminists from all over dancing all together, wow! :) Uffff.......... Tomorrow, another session of CEE caucus. 7:15 am :(
- background music:latino rhythm from the AWID party next door
politicisation of Islam
politicisation of age (young people, older people)
politicisation of minorities
politicisation of identities
politicisation of ethnicities
politicisation of colour
politicisation of ???
me can't think anymore, me going to go enjoy music now, and hopefully, dance me butt away.. well, not literally ;o)
Kinda late entry, but some running thoughts for the first day of the AWID Forum. While speakers talk about "change" and "how" things have changed, I hear almost in the same breath, the same complaints about the women's movement--the lack of inclusion, the lack of spaces, the lack of combining strengths and energies in advocating each other's issues, especially issues of women (and the transgendered) minority groups. However, there did seem to be repeated calls for inclusivity--across ethnicities, across religions, across localities, across sexualities, but how this was all supposed to happen, I don't know. The pragmatic answer, collaborate where we can, and go our separate ways when necessary. Isn't this the same approach we've used before? Isn't this the same approach we use now? With the caucus on sexual diversity broadening to include the transgered women and transsexuals, I wondered where do the transgendered men go? AWID is inclusive of all as long as they were feminist activists. But what of the women's movement? Do we include the transgendered men? Or do transgendered men automatically gain freedoms and spaces within mainstream society as men, and therefore have no need of the spaces that the women's movement offers to those "who do not belong"? First day of the Forum, and I feel unsure if I'm going to go away re-energised as I did when I attended AWID for the first time in 1999. Where are the spaces that have allowed me to cut across ethnicity, sexuality, religion, locality, etc.? My community--my community that is NOT based on ethnicity, that is NOT based on sexuality, that is NOT based on religion, that is NOT based on locality, that is NOT based on any common characteristic or demarcation of identity, but acceptance.
It's actually MFBFC - my first big feminist conference. It is for a long time something I was looking forward to. Expecting it will feel differently than to being in all big conference I went through so far- more exciting, less boring, more creative, because diverse. I was sitting in the middle of the crowd of 2000 women, listening to opening plenary, and reflecting about how it feels like - safe, vibrant, scary...? My feeling had many faces, they were diverse as well as the opening plenary presentations Five women sitting in the front of us, poked about how the change happen from very different perspective, but all their speeches has one join message - It is time to be angry again, to bring back our radicalism.
The afternoon sessions I have followed, had another join message - where are we? where are the women's right activist? The talk was about the technologies – ICTs, biotechnologies, nanotechnologies. All of them can be use and misuse, to empower or disempower people, women, us! So where are we, why we are not considering them as something we should paid attention to? How we can speak about the globalization, trade, violence against women, alliances building without addressing technologies?
and i put our faces to the www.womenonweb.org project. its a project - linked through the organisers of the "abortion ship" - to promote access to safe abortions for women across the world. The project is split over 3 countries - canada, austria and the netherlands - for hosting the web site where you can place an order for the abortion pill, the doctor who provides the prescription, and handling the finances, respectively.
read more about the project on the web site and see how you can support a woman's right to choice and a safe abortion.
I attended the launch of the toolkit titled Women’s Treatment Literacy toolkit” during the AWID Forum. In a move to combat the disease and increase women’s AIDS treatment literacy among women in Southern Africa, Southern Africa HIV/AIDS Information Dissemination Service launched this useful resource. The launch was well received with more than 100 people attending and the Chief Executive of Action Aid International Mr. Yanar Mohammed gave the opening remarks.
Southern Africa remains by far the most affected region affected by HIV/AIDS epidemic, with prevalence rates as high as 30% in certain countries. Antenatal statistics reveal that up to 48% of pregnant women infected with HIV/AIDS in curtain rural areas.
The toolkit came as result of the Southern Mutopola project which means the campaign voice of women living with and affected by the disease in Southern Africa which is being implemented by Action aid International. One of the goals of Southern Mutopola project is comprehensive treatment and care, this prompted SAfAIDS in conjunction with Action aid International to produce a tool kit.
“When treatment came to Africa there was no information…and that’s resulted in us producing the toolkit “noted Ms Lunga the Executive Director for SAfAIDS during the launch in Bangkok. The toolkit addresses the missing information on treatment. Ms Lunga also noted that the “the toolkit reminds us that HIV/AIDS related treatment is vital for maintaining the good health of women, thus enabling them to live longer”
The toolkit which comes with three brochures on also includes post exposure prophylaxis, children and antiretroviral treatment and other forms of HIV/AIDS related treatment. It also comes with an audio tape for use in the community and women can share with other women who are unable to read. Posters, calendar, pencil, rubber and lastly six” lets share “cards are also included in the toolkit.
“Being HIV/AIDS positive does not mean end of sex”noted Ms Lunga .The toolkit also comes with a packet of condoms that can be used by positive women.
The toolkit aims to empower girls and women in communities with accurate and relevant information to enable them to make informed decisions in terms of accessing and demanding their rights in full participation in antiretroviral treatment programmes.
Lunga concluded that “SAfAIDS is encouraging countries to take the toolkit and adapt to any situation, and translate it to make sure that women can access the information in Southern Africa”
There is no doubt that this toolkit is the key in providing the missing answers on women access to information on treatment and HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa.
The three winners of the 2005 Gender and ICT Awards
were officially awarded last night. The original apcwomen plan was to get decked out in our best garb for the event and be all formal and officious... all mature and grown up. Right. Great plan, but it was never going to happen -- not in this lifetime and not with the apcwomen.
Instead of an uber-formal, utra-mature awarding ceremony, what we were able to manage was a host who giggled as she spoke and played tic tac toe while she waited for things to proceed:
a bunch of apcwomen garbed in their Feminist- mix shirts (spot the apcwomen in these photos):
and a discussion on a Knowledge-sharing session with the 3 awards winners, where they (along with apcwomen's Angela Kuga Thas) discussed the connections (expected, actual, realistic) between ICTs and women's economic empowerment were discussed (sorry, no pic).
Oh an on official photo:
(from L-R: Rinalia, GKP Secretariat Executive Director; Divya from Datamation in India, one of the Runner Ups; GICT Banner designed by Nani-nani; Mahmud from D-Net in Bangladesh which one first prize; Usha from e-Homemakres which was a runner up; and Chat, apcwomen Head Girl).
I should be writing about the discussion on ICTs and women's economic empowerment instead of filling this entry with photos. But my brain's mush and I can barely imagine a complete sentence. So writing anything with a semblance of substance and intelligence is not going to happen. Not now, anyway.
- mood:almost braindead
- background music:two women talking about women's reproductive health
I am here cause I think I may be able to learn something from a conversation between Latin American feminists who want to talk about the intersection of identities and of agendas, and how that might differ from mainstreaming. Other questions they suggest they want to talk about include: how to avoid parallel paths in the struggles around gender, race and ethnicity; and where do the perspectives coincide and where do they differ from gender mainstreaming?
The LAC interest in "intersectionality" apparently dates back to the Durban WCAR conference. Starting with a video... on concepts! Hmmn. Novel. The screen flashes pieces of text, various definitions of discrimination, intersectionality, inclusion, exclusion, diffference, homogenisation .. all this to rousing almost epic music. I *get* this! The concepts are centre stage. It ends up being the video for "the campain for action citizendship" on "education for inclusion." OK. Can we move on now?
Finally! Introductions of the speakers. First on: Celita Etcher, feminist and educationalist from Uruguay, associated with DAWN and an international NGO: International Council on International Education. Her presentation is bascially her reminiscing about her school education. Back then apparently the public school system was great, they were taught that everyone was equal they all wore the same school uniform. Except! Somehow there was some awareness of difference ... of poor children, black children etc. Where did/could that come from? [No answers offered though she offered some suggestion that her parents might havAnd with reflection, she know had somethign to do with it] With hindsight, she knows that she discriminated against fellow children ...and this is the reasons she is working on inclusive education. This bring us back to the question: "how does change happen?" Quick! Someone, bring back the epic music! Does this sound ungenerous/bitchy/harsh? Sorry, guilt as social change does not quite work for me!]
Next on was Alejandra Scampini - speaking from on a lesbian and gay rights platform - reflecting on why she is engaging with the concept of intersectionality... which is mainly to do with the fact that it allows her to recognise that we sometimes/often occupy both positons of privilege as well as disadvantaged and that it allows one to get away from the notion of perpetual victimhood ... and to create a more profound discrimination of how we cross between different identities - race, class, sexualities ... and move away from the simplification. In LAC intersectionality created more boxes, more silos -we see here this phemonenon - where intersectionality means a panel is comprised of a "young woman," an "old woman," an "indigenous woman" and so on .. a panel which we often refer jokingly refered to "a panel of god's mistakes." We need to redefine intersectionality ... to focus more on thematic rather than identities. We need to have greater diversity ... to match the increased variety. There is definitely more variety ... but not necessarily "diversity" where all these choices are culturally accepted. "
Sofia Valdivielso Gomez - a UNESCO prize winner for literature - started her presentation with a question: where are we going? Offering another view of intersectionality ... is to move beyond the silos ... of race (durban) of gender (beijing), of education (hamburg) ... but to build on the common aspects we share. .. and we could increase the areas of intersection - and move towards unity in diversity ... away from excessive fragmentation ... the influence of post-modernism where we get lost in a forest of fragments - and we see only the trees (or the branch, and the branch of the branch, etc) rather than the forest.
The overall message: We cannot change the world if we don't recognise the diversity, and we cannot also if we dont move beyond the silos. In this global world, we need to be able to work with political concepts like intersectionality without losing the power of the concepts (as happened with "gender" by taking it into UN contexts).
In the end: an interesting engagement with the concepts. Nothing I hadn't heard before but engaging... In general I agree. It just that in practice all these get really distorted and diversity - still! - gets tallied into shifting hierarchies of discrimination: where if you are black, lesbian, physically abused, etc etc you have more feminist cred and can be "the voice." I've been silenced by this kind of politics where if you haven't suffered "enough" - whose doing the tallying?- you arent encouraged to speak ... ! What I learnt to call bulshit women's movement politics. And not quite feminist activism.
And ... the session just lost energy and took a dive for me .. through the suggestion of discrimination 'cause some people stay in the shangri-la and others are in other hotels ... [shock and horror!] ... and there is no translation from/to french! ok. i'm moving on then...
Exercising the law of the two feet... Maybe its time for that thai massage!