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Peter Kuthan / AZFA
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« on: April 18 2009 »

*GENDER CENTRED: A GenderIT.org thematic bulletin*
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*Access to knowledge, and gender*

I. SMALL THOUGHTS AROUND…Access to knowledge and gender

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I. SMALL THOUGHTS AROUND…Access to knowledge and gender
by Sonia Randhawa

This edition of GenderIT looks at the question of access to knowledge
focussing on Africa. Over the last century, copyright and patents
legislation have penetrated into most countries. Strengthened by
international trade agreements, and often pressure from the United
States, this has had the impact of both shrinking the amount of
knowledge that is freely available, and of legislating what is and is
not 'knowledge'. This has been happening at a time when it is becoming
easier and cheaper to copy and transmit information.

Access to knowledge issues tend to focus on the legal terrain of
copyright and patent law, and related movements such as the CopyLeft
movement, the Creative Commons and the free and open source software
movement. Questions raised in this issue will be how the expansion of
copyright and patent law – geographical, in terms of duration and in
terms of what is covered – have been addressed by women's movements, and
how the commons movement has, or has not, engaged with women's concerns
on control of and access to knowledge, including traditional knowledge.
Other issues include gender disparity in terms of access to knowledge,
the gender-blind nature of legislation on access to knowledge, and lack
of access to decision-making on access to knowledge issues both at the
local and international level, in both governmental and non-governmental

For the full editorial, visit
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*Do copyrights and patents limit access to HIV/AIDS knowledge and
treatment in Africa?*
Access to information on drugs, treatment and prevention is critical to
the survival of sub-Saharan Africans, where two-thirds of the world's
population living with HIV resides. Sylvie Niombo, co-ordinator of APC
African Women, looks at how patents, copyright and a lack of
infrastructure have impeded the free flow of vital information across
Africa, at the role of women as providers of information, and at
initiatives that are being undertaken to address the situation.

*University women struggle for knowledge access in Africa*
New to Gender IT, writer Kathleen Riga examines the difficulty African
women at university face in accessing materials, particularly those
produced in Africa, due to informal constraints on access to computers,
as well as the larger role of copyright legislation. She points out the
need for more work to be done and examines the work of the African
Copyright & Access to Knowledge (ACA2K) network in scrutininsing
legislation and practice that could be or is discriminatory.

*Challenges of communal copyright: Traditional and indigenous knowledge*
Copyright and patents legislation has spread rapidly over the past
century, both in terms of the jurisdictions covered, the meaning of
copyright and the length of time before intellectual property enters the
commons. This has a particular impact on indigenous women and the
holders of traditional knowledge, as copyright ignores the possibility
that knowledge can be held communally and has definitions of knowledge
that exclude information held in a spiritual context. In this article,
Gender IT examines how women's lives in traditional and indigenous
societies have been affected by the spread of copyright, what is
happening at both an international and local level to address these
concerns and the limitations of these initiatives.

*Access to knowledge in emergency situations: Looking at the situation
in Jordan and in the Democratic Republic of Congo*
As the other articles in this thematic edition of Gender IT show, access
to knowledge literally saves lives. This is particularly true during
emergency situations. This article looks at the very different
situations facing women in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, where the
government has a stated commitment to putting the kingdom at the
forefront of ICT access in the region combined with a commitment to
equality of access, and the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo, where
it is estimated 1,200 people die each day due to the effects of racially
motivated conflict and sexual violence is increasingly seen as a weapon
of war.

Visit the collection of a wide variety of other articles and resources
related to this issue in the communication rights section:

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*African Copyright & Access to Knowledge Project*
The African Copyright & Access to Knowledge (ACA2K) Project examines the
relationship between national copyright environments and access to
knowledge in African countries. The project is probing this relationship
within an access to knowledge (A2K) framework - a framework which
regards the protection/promotion of user access as one of the central
objectives of copyright law. The project works in eight countries,
Eygpt, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda.

*Intellectual Property Rights in Africa*
Articles on intellectual property rights in Africa have been brought
together by the International Environmental Law Research Centre. The
site includes papers translated from Arabic, and topics covered include
traditional knowledge, farmers rights, patents and comparisons between
intellectual property regimes in different parts of Africa.

*Gender dimensions of intellectual property and traditional medical
This paper examines the discussion on intellectual property rights (IP)
for traditional knowledge (TK) in medicine from a gender perspective. It
argues that a gender analysis of these issues adds to the understanding
of how trade decisions can have important and unintended impacts on the
lives of disempowered people.

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The Agreement on Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights is a binding
agreement on matters such as copyright, patents and other intellectual
property rights and their enforcement. It was spearheaded by the United
States, the European Union and Japan and met with resistance and concern
by many poorer nations, before coming into effect in 1994. Concerns
raised include the right for multinational corporations to
'bio-prospecting' without the consent of host nations, but paid little
attention to the problems raised by indigenous communities of the rights
to traditional and indigenous knowledge.

All members of the World Trade Organization must agree to enforce TRIPS
provisions as a condition of membership to the WTO.

To understand unfamiliar ICT or gender terms visit the Jargon section:

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*Creative Commons*
Creative Commons is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to making it
easier for people to share and build upon the work of others, consistent
with the rules of copyright. It provides free licenses and other legal
tools to mark creative work with the freedom the creator wants it to
carry, so others can share, remix, use commercially, or any combination

The corporation was set up in 2001, and Creative Commons licenses have
been adapted to complement copyright legislation in over 40 jurisdictions.

Creative Commons website: www.creativecommons.org

*HINARI Access to Research Initiative*
The HINARI Programme, set up by the World Health Organisation together
with major publishers, enables developing countries to gain access to
one of the world's largest collections of biomedical and health
literature. Over 6200 journal titles are now available to health
institutions in 108 countries, areas and territories benefiting many
thousands of health workers and researchers, and in turn, contributing
to improved world health.
HINARI website: http://www.who.int/hinari

To find out more about key stakeholders in the field of ICTs, visit the
Who's Who in Policy section:

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*Gender Centred Archive*
You can now check all editions of GenderIT.org thematic bulletin,
published since 2006, in Gender Centred Archive:

*Sign up for Gender Centred thematic bulletin*
You can sign up for Gender Centred thematic e-bulletin focused on
topical gender and ICT policy themes and issued in average four times
per year:
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*CopyLeft. 2009 APC Women's Networking Support Programme (APC WNSP)*
Permission is granted to use this document for personal use, for
training and educational publications, and activities by peace,
environmental, human rights or development organisations. Please provide
an acknowledgement to APC WNSP.
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