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Africa: Women's Networking
Africa: Women's Networking
Date distributed (ymd): 991118
Document reposted by APIC
Issue Areas: +economy/development+ +gender/women+
This posting contains several announcements of on-line
resources related to women's networking, on the occasion of
the 6th African Regional Conference on Women, hosted by the
Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in Addis Ababa on
November 22-27, 1999. Included are (1) the press release from
the ECA announcing the meeting, (2) information on the Africa
Region Women's Networking Support Program of the Association
for Progressive Communications, and (3) a note on related
activities from Women'sNet in South Africa.
For additional related information in French, go to:
le site web des femmes d'Afrique francophone
Flame/Flamme, African Sisters On Line/Africaines En Ligne!
ECA Press Release No. 91/1999
LEADING GENDER EXPERTS TO REVIEW AFRICA'S PROGRESS SINCE
Addis Ababa, 15 November 1999 (ECA) - Some 1,500 participants
drawn from senior levels of governments, civil society,
regional institutions, bilateral agencies, agencies of the
United Nations, and multilateral partners will meet in Addis
Ababa, Ethiopia from 22-27 November 1999 to take stock of
progress made by African countries in implementing strategies
for the empowerment of women agreed in Beijing in 1995.
The Sixth African Regional Conference on Women, organized by
the African Centre for Women (ACW) of the Economic Commission
for Africa (ECA), comes five years after the adoption of the
Dakar and Beijing Platforms for Action - which laid down
concrete targets for countries to meet in 12 critical areas of
concern. ECA is mandated by the General Assembly and African
governments to monitor the implementation of regional and
global conventions for the advancement of women in Africa.
Participants at the Conference will be able to share
information, assess the priorities different countries have
set for themselves, and review the specific programmes being
implemented at national level. It will also provide an
advocacy opportunity to kick-start the implementation of
national strategies in countries lagging behind in their
The Conference has three main objectives:
- To evaluate the implementation of the Dakar and Beijing
Platforms for Action from National Progress Reports and
Thematic Evaluation Reports;
- To formulate a plan of action for the next five years; and
- To develop modalities for Africa's participation at the
Global Review (Beijing +5), to take place in the year 2000 in
New York as part of the Special Session of the UN General
The Conference also aims to contribute to the enhancement of
dialogue between governments and the civil society; sensitize
actors working on the 12 critical areas of concern of the
Beijing Platform for Action, on their roles and
responsibilities, as well as on the 'gender' approach to
development; and strengthen partnerships and South-South
exchange of experiences.
The Conference will involve plenary presentations of progress
reports on the implementation of the Platforms for Action,
twelve workshops for thematic evaluation, and the joint
preparation of a Plan of Action for the next five years, as
well as agreement on of modalities for Africa's participation
at the Global Review (Beijing +5).
The five-year action plan due to be adopted at the end of the
proceedings is expected to provide appropriate adjustment
strategies and redirect efforts towards greater achievement of
the targets set out in the Platform for Action. Participants
are also expected to adopt a Declaration of commitment by all
actors to the implementation of the Platform for Action.
The latest version of the Conference programme as well as
theme papers and other relevant background documents are
available on the ECA Web Site at: http://www.un.org/depts/eca
Full text of all speeches and statements will be available as
they become available, and can also be delivered by e-mail on
For more information, please contact:
Peter da Costa Senior Communication Adviser
Economic Commission for Africa
P.O. Box 3001 Addis Ababa Ethiopia
Tel: +251-1-51 58 26; Fax: +251-1-51 03 65;
Cell: +251-9-20 17 94
E-mail: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Association For Progressive Communications (APC)
Women's Networking Support Programme
[Contact details for APC-Women-Africa
Programme coordination and Francophone Africa:
email@example.com, Web: http://www.enda.sn/synfev/synfev.htm
ENDA Synfev at ENDA, B.P. 3370 Dakar, Senegal Tel: 221 823 45
42, Fax: 221 822 26 95
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Web:
Women'sNet at SANGONeT
PO 31, Johannesburg 2000, South Africa. Tel: 27 11 838 69 43,
Fax: 27 11 492 10 58
United Nations Economic Commission for Africa,
Africa Centre for Women,
Box 3001, Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia. Tel: 251 1 51 89 19, Fax:
251 1 51 22 33]
Information and Communication Technologies: A Women's Agenda
We believe that it is essential to engage more women in
accessing and using Information and Communication Technologies
(ICTs) for equality and development in Africa. We believe that
women should be able to use ICTs strategically in support of
women's empowerment and agendas in order to:
- Facilitate networking and information exchange
- Support solidarity campaigns and collaborative actions
- Mainstream issues of concern to women
- Ensure that women are able to participate equally in civil
and public life
Who is APC-Women-Africa?
We are an African women's network of individual women and
women's organisations focussing on African women's empowerment
by : developing and disseminating information, providing
regional support, lobbying and advocating around gender and
ICT policy; delivering ICT training and conducting research in
the area of gender and ICTs
Can ICTs really make a difference?
We are convinced that globalisaton and the emerging
information society will either advance the status of women in
society or reinforce their marginalization. If we do not
engage and harness the tools which ICTs offer us, we will
further marginalise women's concerns.
African women already network and organise actions themselves.
Appropriate application of ICTs can enable women to access
information and knowledge which can assist in overcoming the
realities of poverty and exclusion.
The 1995 United Nations World Conference on Women (UNWCW) was
a major impetus for women's advances in the use of ICTs.
During the preparatory phase of the UNWCW, women were pioneers
in taking up the use of email for information exchange,
lobbying and campaigning.
Thought the Internet was a relatively new tool for women,
those who gained access and learned to use it were quick to
grasp its potential to facilitate the UNWCW agenda. Like many
other civil society organisations, these pioneers now
recognise the value of using ICTs in their work.
The development of ICTs is taking place in a global context of
gender inequalities. In Africa disparities exist amongst women
in terms of access to education, land, credit, literacy etc.
Gender intersects with many other differences and disparities
which also shape women's ICT needs and experiences such as:
race, ethnicity, class, culture, age, history, sexual
orientation, geographic location, disability. Poverty, war and
endemic violence against women are ever present realities in
the lives of many women living in Africa.
"ICTs .. bring profound changes to our communities. They
influence how we know and understand the world. They change
work methods and the ways in which we communicate. They affect
how we access and share information. They are also an
important source of power. By acquiring the equipment and
skills to use them, we gain access to that power." -- The
Internet: Getting Connected, published by the African Gender
Institute and Women's Net
ICT realities and Trends
Information can be a transformative tool and the acquisition
of appropriate knowledge has the potential to catalyze
development. Civil society is seeing :
- Access to mass media and communications are critical in
achieving their goals
- Large monopolies controlling media content which is leading
to homogenous representation of cultures, harmful content and
the regulation and censorship of ICTs
- Public pressure groups struggling to influence and change
the direction of the above trends.
"Indeed once trained, women's groups can harness the potential
of the Internet towards the common goal of a gender-balanced,
just and empowered society." -- Dorothy Kabagaju Okello,
Key areas of concern:
There is an imbalance in the participation of women in ICTs.
The growth of ICTs is happening in a context of vast
inequalities, violence, poverty and political domination.
Although more women and women's networks are using the
Internet in their work since 1995, issues of basic access is
a primary area of concern. This prevents women from
appropriating ICTs to advance their missions and agendas.
Here are some of the key areas of concern which have emerged
since women began harnessing ICTs for development and women's
Access and Infrastructure Issues
- Ensure governments and private sector prioritise basic
connectivity and infrastructure and include women in policy
- Engage the capacities of African women to facilitate access
to appropriate technologies, both new and old such as radio,
television, newspapers etc.
- Development of applications, products and services that
address the specific needs of women
- Support and development community telecentres and facilitate
the participation of women
Economic and development issues
- Ensure that the tools are applicable to diverse women's
- Harness ICTs for women's entrepreneurship
- Develop products for women in the informal sector to use
ICTs for commercial ventures
- Develop a critical mass of women able to use and appropriate
ICTs for their own empowerment
- Train and educate young girls in the fields of science and
- Develop training and support materials in local languages
and encourage training of women by women.
"Women's access to information and technology has historically
been marginal. Harnessing the power of both is a critical step
in developing a genuine culture of gender equality." --
Anriette Esterhuysen, Director, SANGONeT, South Africa
Gender and cultural issues
- Develop awareness raising, training and information and
communication systems geared to women and girls
- Develop research programmes to document the vast indigenous
knowledge of women in critical sectors such as agriculture,
- Gather gender-disagregated data
- Monitor how women use ICTs and how ICTs impact on gender
- Ensure that access to ICTs does not widen existing
disparaties between women
- Support the development of culturally relevant content
Political and Human rights issues
- Involve women in planning and decision making on ICT
policies and projects to ensure their relevance to the
communities in which they work
- Consult women at every level to understand the opportunities
and constraints of ICTs in their work
- Establish mechanisms that guarantee that women's needs are
taken into account in projects and programmes
"..information is one of the strongest tools of empowerment.."
-- African Platform for Action adopted by the Fifth Regional
Conference on Women, Dakar, November 1994
Beijing and beyond
As we reflect on the progress made by women since Dakar and
Beijing, these key concerns can serve as building blocks for
a wide variety of actions that are required to take up the ICT
The Beijing Platform for Action reflects many of these
concerns, but efforts are needed to monitor whether - and to
what extent - they are being implemented.
More equitable and strategic use of ICTs by women can
contribute towards addressing the other "critical areas of
concern" of the Beijing Platform.
The Beijing+5 process can involve many more women if
appropriate use is made of ICTs.
ICTs is a major development issue. If African women are not
actively present at all levels, we will see new forms of
marginalization that could undermine other advances made by
women in the 20th century. This implies a crucial challenge to
women to take on these issues themselves.
We are convinced that if women appropriate and use ICTs as
tools for collaborative actions, accessing information, and
sharing knowledge, ICTs can assist in challenging and changing
the devastation of poverty, marginalisation and inequality.
"Advances in information technology have opened up boundaries.
The role of women in global communication networks needs to be
strengthened. Barriers to such information technology and to
women's involvement at every level of its development should
Beijing +5 Activities
[Women'sNet, a joint project of SANGONeT
(http://www.sn.apc.org) and the Commission on Gender Equality
(http://www.cge.org.za), is a platform for South African
women's voices and issues. You can find us online at
Tell us what you're doing for Beijing +5! Send us a message at
Women'sNet as a member of the Association for Progressive
Communication's Women's Programme in Africa (APC-Africa-Women)
is implementing a range of activities to facilitate the
preparation and participation of African women' s NGOs in the
global review of the implementation of the Beijing Platform
for Action to be held in New York in June 2000.
In preparation for, and on the occasion of the 6th African
Regional Conference on Women, APC-Africa-Women has embarked on
the following activities:
Flame/Flamme, African Sisters On Line/Africaines En Ligne!
A Beijing +5 in Africa web site - an interactive information
resource for African women's NGOs - created for and by
Flamme! African Women's
Online Meeting Space email@example.com
An online discussion forum - Flamme! African Women's Online
Meeting Space will be officially launched during the 6th ARCW.
APC-Africa-Women and FEMNET, (the African Women's
Communication and Development Network) jointly invite you to
participate in discussions about how ICTs can be used to
implement the Dakar and Beijing Platforms for Action. To join
this mailing list go to Flame/Flamme web site at
Technical Training at the 6th African Regional Conference on
Women in Addis
APC-Africa-Women in partnership with the African Centre for
Women at the ECA is offering free technical training - in both
French and English - to women's NGOs registered to attend the
conference. Web publishing training and an Introduction to
the Internet will be conducted in English from the 18th to the
20th of November. And a French introductory Internet training
will be conducted on the 21st.
"On Site/En Site"
A bilingual print and 'virtual' newsletter. "On Site/En Site"
will be published daily during the 6th ARCW (22 - 27
November). To track the news at the conference visit the
Flame/Flamme web site (http://flamme.org) from November 22nd.
On Site/En Site articles will also be distributed via the
Flamme! mailing list.
African Women and ICTs - Research
The Flamme! mailing list will also be used to gather
experiences and views about at how Information and
Communication Technologies (ICTs) have made an impact on
African women's lives. The outcome of these discussions as
well as other research on women's use of ICTs in Africa since
Beijing will be presented in a status report at the Women 2000
(Beijing +5 mid term review) conference in New York City in
This material is being reposted for wider distribution by the
Africa Policy Information Center (APIC). APIC's primary
objective is to widen international policy debates around
African issues, by concentrating on providing accessible
policy-relevant information and analysis usable by a wide
range of groups and individuals.