Author Archives: Shiny

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.

 

To increase women’s participation, they added a beauty pageant.

The Internet Governance Forum, is a governmental multi-stakeholder policy dialogue buzzword compliant event. The forum reports to the UN Secretary-General. This week the forum was held in Indonesia.

Realising there is noticeably low numbers of women in all levels of internet governance, and even internet use, a group of altruistic businesses set out to increase women’s participation. How? They added a beauty pageant.

Miss Internet 2013.

Here, lemme quote the press release

The Association of Indonesian Internet Providers (APJII) Bali branch is organizing a Miss Internet 2013 competition, calling for young women to participate in the event.

Wahid Juniarto, chairman of the organizing committee, told journalists in a press conference yesterday that the competition was aimed at increasing Internet usage among girls and women.

“We encourage women to use Internet services to enhance their knowledge, information and skills. It is an appreciation of any woman who uses the Internet for good purposes,” Juniarto said.

Registration for the competition has opened and the grand final will be held in Denpasar on Sept. 14. Women aged between 17 and 25 years old, who have a Bali identity card, are eligible to register as contestants.

The pageant was announced in July, and the winner selected in September. The event was showcased at the IGF and the winner was at the conference, to be found beside the showroom-like booth.

This was so many levels of inappropriate.

To quote from APC

The decision to run the programme in a format that is strongly reminiscent of beauty pageants positions women as passive objects of beauty rather than active, diverse and empowered citizens and users of the Internet who shape and define the world we live in. This can have the effect of perpetuating gender stereotypes that act to further marginalize and discriminate women instead of promoting their rights and concerns, which runs completely contrary to the stated objectives of your programme.

The approach of this programme also runs a great risk of reducing women’s contribution to the development and use of the internet into becoming simply a marketing ploy and further communicates the message of the commodification of women’s images and representation in the shaping information societies. This is discriminatory.

The Internet Governance Forum is a United Nations mandated space and as such, we expect and demand adherence to respectful and non-discriminatory standards of behavior. As participants of the Internet Governance Forum 2013 who are working to advance gender equality and the active participation of women in Internet governance policy dialogue and processes, we see this as a huge step back taken by organisers in this process.

OLPC and gender

Brenda is a open source coder, who spends most of her days playing with gadgets for telcos. She blogs at coffee.geek.nz.

I’m now able to declare myself a (very) active contributor to the One Laptop per Child project. This is famous as the $100 laptop project that has been shipping laptops and open source educational software to the world’s poorest childen.

I’ve been contributing for more than a year now, and the amount of time I give has gone from about once a month, to now being a couple hours a day.

The project, in New Zealand, has a very healthy gender balance: about 40% women. I really have no idea of the international gender balance, as most of the names used are not ones I can recognise the usual gender for. But i suspect there’s a much higher percentage of women than most open source projects. Contributors are recruited from education, and at least in the english speaking countries that means a lot of women. These people often don’t self-identify as geeks. “I’m not a hacker” she’ll say as she hand crafts some config for her laptop’s boot loader.

However, when signing up to contribute, or be on some mailing lists, there are requirement of “respecting privacy”, which equates to not talking about what goes on inside the project. I have access to several of these closed resources within the project now – and if anything resembling the awful incidents that occur in truly-open open source were occurring within the OLPC project, well, i couldn’t tell anyone about them without breaking this agreement. I wouldn’t be getting support from outside the project in the event of yucky behaviour. This was in the back of my mind as I agreed.

But, to end on a positive note: One Laptop Per Child, and the Sugar software project are a great cause, and are easy to become involved with. If you’re interested in helping out, and don’t know how to start, you’re welcome to contact me. shiny at cpan dot org. Ther are tasks for everyone from coder hackers to testers to documentors to hardware tinkerers.