Kuala Lumpur Forum on ICT and Gender Adopts Declaration for WSIS
More than 300 participants from around the globe gathering at the "Forum on ICTs and Gender: Optimizing Opportunities" in Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur end of August stressed the importance of ICT as a tool to promote women's empowerment, rights and dignity and full participation in the information society.
Aimed as an input to the process leading to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), the conference was hosted by the Government of Malaysia and organized in conjunction with various partners including the Asia-Pacific Telecommunity (APT), Asian Pacific Women's Information Network Center (APWINC), Commonwealth of Learning (COL), Global Knowledge Partnership (GKP), International Development Research Centre (IDRC), International Telecommunication Union (ITU), United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) and UNESCO.
Thought provoking presentations and country status reports were the order of the first day. Focused deliberations began on the second day of the Forum when the participants could participate in in-depth discussions organized in four main working groups, each on different topic.
The four tracks were:
- Confidence and security in the use of ICTs
- Health and Education
- SME entrepreneurship, and
- Rural and disadvantaged groups.
The second working group or Track was subdivided into Track 2A and 2B. UNESCO was the leader of Track 2A focusing on ICT in education, culture and communication for gender equality aiming at formulating recommendations on two major areas: national ICT policy, and content creation.
Prior to small group discussions, the participants heard additional presentations on the relationship between women's mobility, participation in ICT sector and productivity; quality of websites for women and how to improve it; ICT initiatives for women empowerment; sharing of knowledge and educational resources on the Internet; improving students' access to online education through the provision of recycled computers, and a theoretical presentation on how ICT can reduce gender inequality.
In two small working groups, Track 2A participants put forth, discussed at length, and concurred upon recommendations to be submitted to the Forum's Drafting Committees for annexing to the Declaration. These recommendations confirm the participants' strong conviction of the contribution of ICT to gender equality. Briefly, it was recommended that countries should have gender responsive national ICT policy and strategies based on situation analysis backed up by sex disaggregated data; gender sensitive leadership and strong partnership among stakeholders; awareness among leaders and decision makers of ICT as a tool for empowerment of women and marginalized groups and national development; active role of media in advocacy; gender sensitive local content in local languages; ICT capacity building for marginalized groups and teaching of ICT skills to children at the earliest age; sharing experiences and showcasing best practices; and developing indicators and databases to monitor policy implementation. In all of these, participation of the civil society especially women and marginalized groups is a key to programme sustainability and success.
The Drafting Committee further consolidate the recommendations from all Tracks which were subsequently annexed to the Declaration