Highlighted Selections from:

Through the 'Information Society' Prism: Scoping Gender Equality for the Post-2015 Agenda


Gurumurthy, Anita; Nandini.C; and Emma Saloranta. “Through the 'Information Society' Prism: Scoping Gender Equality for the Post-2015 Agenda.” IT for Change (2013): 1–25. Print.

p.1: This paper recommends that the question of gender and ICTs must be addressed in the post-2015 global development agenda, in the following manner:

  1. There should be a specific goal related to the meaningful and effective use of ICTs and the Internet, that is measured through gender sensitive targets and indicators. This should take into account the quality of access, and not just availability.
  2. There should be a specific goal related to gender equality and women's and girls' empowerment that takes into account access to and effective use of ICTs and the Internet as a target (with appropriate indicators) within the goal. The larger goal of women's empowerment in the contemporary information society cannot be dis-embedded from the context that ICTs are creating.
  3. To facilitate a nuanced assessment, the indicators that are evolved under the above-mentioned goals must capture the individual-household, public-institutional and community-social aspects of access to, and use of, ICTs and the Internet.

-- Highlighted apr 5, 2014

p.1: The paper also highlights the areas that global and national policy and programmatic frameworks need to address, in order to promote the gender equality agenda in the information society context: (a) Promotion of access and effective use of the Internet and ICTs (b) Creation of opportunity structures for women and (c) Building equitable techno-architectures. -- Highlighted apr 5, 2014

p.1: 'Information society' is a term that has been coined to refer to the current context where the use, distribution, consumption and manipulation of information is increasingly at the heart of our social, economic and cultural life. The rise of the knowledge economy as opposed to a Fordist, industrial economy and the increasing reduction of space and rise of the knowledge economy as opposed to a Fordist, industrial economy and the increasing reduction of space and time barriers to information and communication flows with the growth of digital technologies, the rise and increasing significance of networks in all spheres of life, are some of its most visible characteristics. The term 'network society' significance of networks in all spheres of life, are some of its most visible characteristics. The term 'network society' was coined by Manuel Castells to describe this context, as an attempt to draw attention to the centrality and significance of networks. significance of networks. -- Highlighted apr 5, 2014

p.3: In 1995, at the cusp of the digital revolution, the Beijing Platform for Action identified the need to “increase the participation and access of women to expression and decision-making in and through the media and new technologies of communication” i . -- Highlighted apr 5, 2014

p.3: Especially for women, the emerging information (or network) society has heralded a threshold effect, with new possibilities for collectivising, organising and resistance. -- Highlighted apr 5, 2014

p.4: What are the opportunities and challenges for women's empowerment and gender equality, that emerge at this historical juncture, of a paradigmatic shift in the global social and institutional order – especially for women from the Global South? -- Highlighted apr 5, 2014

p.4: There is no linear relationship between women's access to ICTs and changes to iniquitous gender orders. However, ICTs undoubtedly offer the potential for marginalised women to redefine their 'sense of place', rupturing boundaries and creating fluidity between what was previously more easily separable into clearly defined, non-overlapping spaces of 'the public' and 'the private'. -- Highlighted apr 5, 2014

p.5: Moreover, the new virtual spaces offer women numerous opportunities for emerging as a 'counterpublic' in contexts where the mainstream public spheres are under the sway of local patriarchal regimes colluding with state or religious forces -- Highlighted apr 5, 2014

p.5: For example, the local feminist movement organised a group called Feministas en Resistencia (Feminists in Resistance), and documented the abuses conducted by the armed forces and broadcast them through a channel on Youtube. In other Latin American armed forces and broadcast them through a channel on Youtube. In other Latin American countries, women's groups organised demonstrations at the Hondurian embassies in solidarity with the Feministas en Resistencia movement. These global ties that the activists in Honduras forged, saved many lives. In instances where participants in the resistance movement were arrested, saved many lives. In instances where participants in the resistance movement were arrested, their peers tapped into the online communication networks, to initiate global protests against the arrest and co-ordinate global action such as requesting groups from across the world to send in letters and faxes demanding the release of the detainees. -- Highlighted apr 5, 2014

p.6: However, virtual spaces are not entirely safe for women, as they are not totally immune to the threat of state surveillance or the operations of patriarchal controls. As is well acknowledged by women who use virtual spaces for self-expression and forging collective solidarity, women's online communication often attracts threats and intimidations from entrenched patriarchal interests -- Highlighted apr 5, 2014

p.9: ICTs have also carved out immense opportunities for women's participation in informal politics. There have been numerous experiments, such as women-only blogging communities devoted to particular ideologies and interests; online journals and videos produced by women; and forums and online support groups devoted to feminist concerns. -- Highlighted apr 5, 2014

p.15: A shift from ICT policies to information society policies is needed to address the wider social and gender dimensions of the information society.

  • Governments need to recognise that ICTs are not just an economic sector; the media related aspects of ICTs have a strong bearing on issues of culture, democracy, development and social transformation. ICT policies cannot be entirely dictated by technocratic and economic concerns.
  • ICTs need to be seen in their larger social role, and therefore an 'information society' framework, instead of an 'ICT' framework provides a good starting point in the emergent context.
  • A separate information society machinery is needed to be developed within governments to highlight the myriad and very significant social aspects of ICT-led changes.
  • At national levels, the ICT ministry or department needs to delimit its purview to technical and infrastructural responsibilities, while the Ministry for Women should deal with substantive information society issues concerning gender.

-- Highlighted apr 5, 2014

p.15: Policies and law need to keep pace with the threat of violence against women in digital spaces. Measures to address violence against women in digital spaces need to recognise both women's 'public' , political rights as well as 'private', individual rights. -- Highlighted apr 5, 2014

p.17: It is to be noted that while public information infrastructure can make a huge difference to the lives of marginalised women, privatised ICT approaches will not have the incentive to address the information needs of the poorest women. This calls for a need to revisit the adequacy of the innumerable private sector initiatives in ushering in real empowerment. -- Highlighted apr 5, 2014

p.17: Women's empowerment and gender equality need a robust public sphere where multiple voices can be heard.

  • The convergence of technologies, and of ICT and media spaces, needs to be addressed in a manner that keeps citizen interests foremost.
  • Grassroots community media projects need to be supported, and women's groups provided the support and incentives for local media/content production.
  • Public service broadcast continues to plan a key social role; however, in the new context it can and needs to be made much more participatory and bottom-up, with new ICT possibilities that allow marginalised women to create, share and broadcast knowledge.

-- Highlighted apr 5, 2014

p.18: The rise of market power in the network society context also poses a serious threat to concerns about the commons. Online publics where women's movements build counter-culture and solidarity to challenge entrenched patriarchal values and norms in the dominant institutional and social order are in many ways 'compromised' publics. -- Highlighted apr 5, 2014

p.19: However, women's groups have an important role to play in ensuring that the regulation of digital spaces does not become an excuse for the 'information state' and its surveillance apparatus to take away spaces for contention and the unprecedented opportunity for re-imagining democracy in the network society. -- Highlighted apr 5, 2014

p.20: as Castells et. al. have argued, it is quite possible that mobile communication can even exacerbate gender related inequities. Asserting that technology does not determine society, but technology is society, they establish the fact that the talk around mobiles can only be understood in social terms as a social practice. The diffusion and use of mobile telephony is certainly iconic of a shift toward a new ‘personal communication society' and this has predominantly included new forms of coordination and social networking, personalisation of public spaces and a new youth culture -- Highlighted apr 5, 2014

p.20: emancipatory possibilities through mobiles in the network society require new trajectories that can privilege marginalised women's interests, generating meanings and symbolisms of networks that serve democracy and social justice. These trajectories, as has been mentioned, will need an institutional environment guiding a rights-based local information society where active feminist appropriation thrives. -- Highlighted apr 5, 2014

p.22: The larger goal of women's empowerment in the contemporary information society cannot be disembedded from the context that ICTs are creating. -- Highlighted apr 5, 2014