Association for Progressive Communications – Interview with Joy Liddicoat

I recently caught up with Joy Liddicoat, and interviewed her about her work with the Association for Progressive Communications (APC).

What is the Association for Progressive Communications?

APC is both a network and an organisation. APC members are groups working in their own countries to advance the same mission as APC. APC has more than 40 members in over 30 countries, the majority from developing countries.

When and why was it formed?

APC was founded in 1990 growing from computer networks that were established in 1987 which had been founded by people with experience in communication and international collaboration in the NGO world, and a deep commitment to making new communication techniques available to movements working for social change. Most networks were founded by a small number of people who devoted their personal equipment and all their free time to spread electronic communication to their colleagues working for change. Today APC’s mission is still focused on being a movement for social change. You can find out more about our history here: https://www.apc.org/en/about/history

How does it relate to other entities such as the United Nations, or GenderIT?

In relation to the UN, we are an active participant in high level international ICT policy discussions, and were granted category one consultative status to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in 1995. We participate in women’s rights, human rights, internet governance and a variety of other areas of the UN’s work. But the UN is only one space where we work.

GenderIT.org emerged from the Association for Progressive Communications Women’s RightsProgramme’s advocacy work in information and communications technologies (ICTs). The need to have examples of national policy, gender-sensitive language, tools for lobbying, and an understanding of the impact of poor or positive policy all within easy access has been expressed by ICT advocates and policy makers alike.

The APC WRP also developed the Monitor for gender advocates – women’s organisations and movements across the world who are just beginning to explore gender issues in the deployment and application of ICTs, and need to understand the intersections with key women’s issues such as violence against women or economic empowerment.

What’s your involvement with APC, do you have a cool job title?

My job title is “Human Rights Specialist” and I started working for APC in 2011. I think my job title could be a lot cooler – any ideas?

Who turns up at a typical APC forum/event?

Awesomely cool interesting people – human rights defenders, techies with politics, feminists, bloggers,  political activists – we have the best parties!

Tell me about development of “feminist principles for the Internet”. Where did this come from as a goal or APC’s upcoming event? Is there any prior work we can see?

This meeting has been inspired by our work on women’s rights, digital security and sexual rights. You can see some of that work from our Erotics project https://www.apc.org/en/projects/erotics-exploratory-research-project-sexuality-and-0 , take back the tech https://www.takebackthetech.net/ violence against women https://www.apc.org/en/node/15007/ , as well as our internet rights work: https://www.apc.org/en/node/11424 . Our goals for this meeting are to:

+ Articulate, deepen, and clarify thinking and analysis around contentious issues of gender, sexuality, and the internet including questions around ‘harmful content,’ pornography, ‘hate speech,’ gender-based violence, and sexual rights.
+ Develop a set of evolving Feminist Principles of the Internet.
+ Build a network of feminist and queer activists, academics, internet rights experts, and techies to identify collaborative strategies across movements
+ Build capacity on engaging with human rights mechanisms and UN instruments to advance sexual rights and women’s human rights in relation to the internet.

I see use of the term “Women’s rights” in APC. How broadly are APC using the term “woman”? Is there any statement of further inclusiveness and safe spaces (e.g. transwomen, genderqueer).

We use the term very broadly and inclusively.

Can geek feminist readers be involved? Is there any remote participation?

We are still trying to work this out in terms of the actual meeting, hashtags etc – will let you know.  We do plan on follow up to share the draft principles and consult – so there will be an opportunity for being involved, but the exact plans are still being developed.