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Peter Kuthan / AZFA
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« on: June 12 2007 »

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay -- “The enthusiasm in various government sectors about information and communication technologies is incredible, as is the way it is getting onto the agenda of women in politics,” remarked Dafne Sabanes Plou, of the APC women’s programme, commenting on a national gathering of Argentine women mayors and councilwomen held in Buenos Aires at the end of April.

Organisations working on gender and ICT have been underlining the colossal task faced in their everyday activities: on the one hand, they must convince women’s organisations of the importance of working on issues related to technology, and on the other, point out to specialists the gender gap which exists in both ICT policy and technological practice.

It was the Argentine women involved in local government who themselves felt the need to talk about technology and communication. Dafne tells us: “This is an issue they decided on last year during their first national meeting in the province of Corrientes, in which more than 150 women participated.”

That was how more than 300 women organised themselves to obtain funding and finance their participation in this second gathering. It was held in the Palacio de Correos, the old central post office which is now the telecommunications building. Surrounded by the splendour of early 20th century Buenos Aires, amidst the marble and woodwork of this “prestige architecture”, the women got down to work. In addition to overtly political discussions, the meeting had very practical objectives, and workshops were designed to explore the possibilities offered by various electronic tools.

The APC Women’s Networking Support Programme led the “ICT for social change” workshop, based on its Gender Evaluation Methodology (GEM). “We criss-crossed ICT policy and the women’s own concerns: education, jobs, sexual and reproductive health, violence against women,” says Dafne [the materials used are available online].

Why is it important for this issue to be on the agenda of women politicians? “We saw this meeting as an opportunity to broaden their minds, so they could see the issue from another perspective, not just as an instrument (although that is also important). It is crucial that they begin to see technology from a gender perspective,” she continued. “We know that our women politicians often get into power through quota laws and because they are someone’s relative, sister or wife. But we also know that their concern regarding matters related to women has increased significantly. Being in public service and in contact with those who elected them has helped them to become aware of people’s problems and concerns.”

And the chances of changing things become less illusory and more real: “I have spoken to many people about these issues but they have always been experts, academics, students, people already involved in the matter and who listen to you from a theoretical point of view. But here we are talking to people who are hard at work, who pound the pavement, who are on the councils. They are the ones making the decisions.”

When it is time to take stock, Dafne feels the results are extremely positive: “Our expectations were surpassed because the workshops helped the councilwomen and local women politicians to discuss the possibility of applying gender policies in development and in access to information and communication technologies in their own communities. If we look at the concrete experiences carried out in municipalities from a gender perspective, we can begin to think about targeted actions to promote participation by more girls and women in the use and development of ICTs, and to seek equal opportunity in access to jobs that involve ICT, for example.”

This second meeting of Argentine women in municipal government was organised by the Manos Solidarias civil association.
Source: Wikipedia / http://www.apc.org/english/news/index.shtml?x=5069197
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