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The Chinese team explores the dynamics of the insurgency of multiple counter and alternative public spheres in the context of Guangzhou (mainland China) and Hong Kong characterised by authoritarianism and post-colonial power. They focus on women organisations and activists, their uses of new media and online platforms, and their implications for citizenship. The team is undertaking field work in Guangzhou and Hong Kong, conducting interviews with both members of established women NGOs and online activists engaged in the online citizen rights movement.
The Sri Lankan team is researching women's engagement with two initiatives using new media at the local and national level. At the local level, the team is studying Minmini News, a network of rural women in Batticaloa district, and its impact on women's access to knowledge and their empowerment through shared information on socio-political events along with their active engagement with socio-political structures and spaces. They further explore the influence of these processes on women's social reality and on their relationship to new media. At the national level, the team is analysing the new media campaign launched by the Women and Media Collective, which focuses on the importance of increasing women's participation and representation in mainstream politics. The upcoming elections in March will be an opportunity to document women's awareness and engagement in the process, as well as the impact of new media.
The Filipino project will create an online platform that will serve as a space for the experiences, needs and desires of marginalised women, men and youth in order to influence law-makers into passing a reproductive health law. After having launched the website and an online newspaper, the team has trained community-based activists on basic computer skills: news and feature writing, blogging/internet journalism, basic photography, newspaper and website management. The activists will generate stories grounded in everyday realities of their communities, more specifically about the need of marginalised women, men and youth for reproductive health services.
The Thailand and Taiwan team, whose research focus is the use of ICTs by women migrant domestic workers’ organisations in Hong Kong and Taiwan, has identified migrants to interview through collaborative work with local organisations. Their preliminary work has enabled them to map the many dimensions of the topic, articulating clearly the gaps in the existing work but also the current use of ICTs by women migrant domestic workers, the obstacles they face in accessing technology and the multiple potentials of mobile phones for political engagement.
Binitha Thampi and J. Devika will work on the empowerment of women political leaders at the local level, exploring the role of ICTs in effecting their substantive representation in local institutions in Kerala (India). They will build on previous research with women leaders of village panchayats in Kerala that has shown the crucial role of access to information in enabling women to hold their own against the entrenched patriarchal attitudes of both local politicians and officials. The Kerala team believes that this situation can be improved inter alia through the deployment of a knowledge network. The network will be created by linking the existing support groups of outgoing women presidents of panchayats with the next generation elected women representatives. The operative idea being the active sharing and learning from each others experiences and becoming a stronger collective. Furthermore, the training material of the Kerala Institute of Local Administration (KILA) will be digitised and put in the public domain. The research promises to bring valuable insights about the role of knowledge access for women's empowerment.
Ananya Raihan, Mokhlesur Rahman and Umme Busra Fateha Sultana will work on the influence of new media on women's political decision-making in Bangladesh. They will explore new media's contribution in creating both discourses on women's rights as citizens, and possibilities for marginalised women to renegotiate these rights in their local contexts. Through a series of steps, the research aims at understanding the level and extent of marginalised women's participation in creating these discourses through new media. A citizen journalism platform www.write3.com was launched in January – one of the main themes being women's citizenship. It has a mobile phone-based application, which enables users to upload photos, video or audio messages. Workshops will be organised to train representatives of grassroots organisations to use the platform and its applications. The process will be taken further in two locations through in-depth interviews of selected marginalised women and “Info-ladies” who mobilise women for claiming their rights. In a country where women are still highly discriminated in gaining formal citizenship, such a study will help investigate the impact of new ICTs on gender and citizenship.
Farida Shaheed (Pakistan), Supinya Klangnarong (Thailand) and Margarita Salas (Costa Rica) have joined the network and will contribute to the programme by writing conceptual think pieces. These will be based on an in-depth scrutiny of the information society contexts in their respective countries. Their work will help support the building of the theoretical framework on gender and citizenship in the information society. Each research will have a specific scope in addressing issues of participation and citizenship of marginalised women within the larger context of ICT diffusion. You can find more information about the think piece writers on the CITIGEN website.
What would you like to report back since the programme started?
That’s a big question! I guess I would like to report that I am glad that APWLD is a part of this programme and that the project is successfully continuing as planned. I am also excited to see what the other groups have been up to with their projects and what the two new groups are planning to do.
How is your participation in the programme enhancing your own work and understanding of the research field?
I have to say that it has had a bigger impact on my own work in the Labour and Migration Programme at APWLD than I thought it would. Before starting this project, I thought I was reasonably tech savvy, however I can definitely say that in the process of doing the State of the Art alone, I have fast become much more savvy, in particular in the use of ICT as part of campaigning. My work plan this year now includes a on-line campaigning element, which incorporates information, a case study and a email that participants can sign up to send to governments. We are also looking into redeveloping the blog for the United for Foreign Domestic Workers Rights (UFDWRs) coalition, which APWLD is the co-secretariat for. This has stemmed out the interest I have developed in ICT and from being a part of this programme.
What are the challenges you are facing in implementing your research?
As our project is not national this always causes some extra problems in terms of research and the consultative forums, things took longer to get rolling than I would have liked, but at this stage I feel that the project is moving smoothly and is well underway. It was always going to be difficult to interview migrant domestic workers when they often do not have days off and it would be ineffective to interview them in their employers house. However, the local organisations which we are working with have identified women who are migrants themselves from the Philippines and Indonesia to do the interviews and we believe that they will be successful in making the women feel comfortable enough to answer the questions during the interview. I also found during the literature review, that there is a lack of information and analysis of how organisations organise migrant workers, and there are definitely not many who discuss the use of ICT in organising migrant workers, therefore the field research has become even more important in understanding these aspects.
What do you expect from the programme? As a member of the network, as an individual researcher, etc.
From this programme, IT for Change and APWLD now have a connection and hopefully the two organisations will continue to work together after the programme to benefit from each others strengths to carry on our campaigning and advocacy work. For myself, I will continue to be a part of the network and I hope to learn from others who are successfully using ICT in the NGO field, as well as to learn from their mistakes and problems!
Anandhi S., Velayudhan M. (2010), 'Rethinking feminist methodologies', in Economic and Political Weekly, XLV (44), pp. 39-41.
Avgitidou S. (2009), 'Participation, roles and processes in a collaborative action research project: a reflexive account of the facilitator', in Educational Action Research, 17 (4), pp. 585-600.
duPont S. (2010), Information & Communication Technology in Mexican civil society. Overview and case studies. Retrieved from http://ndn.org/sites/default/files/paper/duPont_ICTMexicanCivilSociety.pdf, 1 February 2011.
Gaventa J., Barrett G. (2010), So what difference does it make? Mapping the outcomes of citizen engagement . Development Research Centre on Citizenship, Participation and Accountability. Retrieved from http://www.drc-citizenship.org/Publications/WP347.pdf, 5 February 2011.
Special issue of The Electronic Journal of Information Systems in Developing Countries on ICTs and Development: Theories and Evidence. Available at http://www.ejisdc.org/ojs2/index.php/ejisdc, 31 January 2011.