Gender and ICT Advocacy

APC WNSP Policy Guide

1. Acknowledge, protect and defend Women's Rights in the Information Society
Human rights and freedoms, of which women's human rights and freedoms are an integral part, must be located at the core of the information society. In order to be realized, human rights and freedoms must be interpreted, enforced and monitored in the context of the Information Society. All women and men, communities, nations, and the international community have the right to access and effectively use the information and knowledge they need to address their development concerns. This is the strategic starting point for all concerned with gender equality and social transformation. In a globalised world that continuously undermines localised democratic institutions, the Internet provides an essential means for defending and extending participatory democracy.
2. Gender equality, non-discrimination and women's empowerment are essential prerequisites for equitable and people-centred development in the 'Information Society'
An equitable and inclusive 'Information Society' must be based on the principles of gender equality, non-discrimination and women's empowerment as contained in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the CEDAW Convention. These are central elements of social justice, political and economic equality strategies. Women and girls must be explicitly included as beneficiaries of the 'ICT revolution' as a fundamental principle of equality and an essential element in the shaping, direction and growth of the 'Information Society'. They must have equal opportunities to actively participate in ICT policy decision-making spaces and the agenda setting processes which shape them.
3. ICT governance and policy frameworks must enable full and equal participation
Global, regional and national ICT governance and policy frameworks can either enable full participation in the information society or inhibit people's access to the technology, information and knowledge. Policy frameworks deal with the development of national communications infrastructure, to the provision of government, health, education, employment and other information services, to broader societal issues such as freedom of expression, privacy and security. All of these policies have implications for women and failure to take account of these will certainly lead to negative impacts for women in relation to those for men.
4. All ICT initiatives must incorporate a gender perspective
A gender perspective must be incorporated by all stakeholders involved in the process of planning, implementing, monitoring and evaluating ICT initiatives. Hence, all stakeholders must of necessity develop quantitative and qualitative indicators, benchmarks, and 'ICT for development' targets that are gender specific.
5. Every woman has the right to affordable access
Universal access and community access policies must be underpinned by an understanding of the gender and rural-urban divide and take into account gender differences in mobility, available time, income, literacy levels, and general socio-cultural factors. National ICT policies must create an environment where more investment is directed to the expansion of basic telephony and public ICT access infrastructure that links women and others in remote and rural areas, at affordable costs, to information resources and populations in urban areas.
6. Education and training programmes must promote gender awareness
All stakeholders must seek to empower women's and girls' access to and effective use of ICTs at the local level through gender-aware education and training programmes. Maximum use must be made of ICTs to eliminate gender disparities in literacy in primary, secondary and tertiary education, and in both formal and informal settings.
7. Women and girls have a right to equal access to educational opportunities in the fields of science and technology
Governments must design and implement national policies and programmes that promote science and technology education for women and girls, and encourage women to enter into high 'value-added' ICT careers. It is imperative to counter the reproduction of historical patterns of gender segregation in employment within the ICT sector, where men are more likely to be found in the high-paying, creative work of software development or Internet start-ups, whereas women employees predominate in low-paid, single-tasked ICT jobs such as cashiers or data-entry workers.
8. Women count: their viewpoints, knowledge, experience and concerns must be visible
All stakeholders must support initiatives that facilitate women's and girls' ability to generate and disseminate content that reflects their own information and development needs. Women's viewpoints, knowledge, experiences and concerns are inadequately reflected on the Internet, while gender stereotypes predominate. These concerns around content relate both to issues of sexism and the portrayal of women in media generally, as well as to the need for women to systematise and develop their own perspectives and knowledge, and to ensure that they are reflected in these spaces
9. No Public Domain of Global Knowledge without women's knowledge
Human knowledge, including the knowledge of all peoples and communities, also those who are remote and excluded, is the heritage of all humankind and the reservoir from which new knowledge is created. A rich public domain is essential to inclusive information societies and must fully embrace women's knowledge including knowledge that is contextual, rooted in experience and practice and draws from local knowledge in areas of production, nutrition and health.The privatisation of knowledge and information through copyright, patents and trademarks is ceasing to be an effective means of rewarding creative endeavour or encouraging innovation and can contribute to the growth of inequality and the exploitation of the poor. All stakeholders must promote the maintenance and growth of the common wealth of human knowledge as a means of reducing global inequality and of providing the conditions for intellectual creativity, sustainable development and respect for human rights.
10. Every woman and girl has the right to communicate freely in safe and secure online spaces
Women and girls have a right to access online spaces where they can share sensitive information, exchange experiences, build solidarity, facilitate networking, develop campaigns and lobby more effectively. They have a right to a secure online environment where they are safe from harassment, enjoy freedom of expression and privacy of communication, and are protected from electronic surveillance and monitoring. The internet can be used to commercially and violently exploit women and children, replicate and reproduce stereotypical and violent images of women and facilitate sex-trafficking of women as well as trafficking in persons.Policy and regulatory frameworks to address such use of the internet should be developed inclusively and transparently with all stakeholders, particularly women, and be based on the international human rights framework encompassing rights related to privacy and confidentiality, freedom of expression and opinion and other related rights.