Activist-scholars of the CITIGEN network who have been working on different researches to study women's participation and citizenship in the information society, met in Bengaluru (India) from 15-17 February 2012 at the National Institute of Advanced Studies. The meeting brought new scholars into the network and discussed the findings of the research studies. It was also an occasion for the network members to reflect upon the questions and concerns framing the research endeavour to plan the next steps. Read the 'CITIGEN Research Validation Meeting Report'. View the interviews from the meeting here.
The fifth international conference on Information and Communication Technologies and Development (ICTD 2012) hosted at the Georgia Institute of Technology was held from March 12-15, 2012 in Atlanta, USA. CITIGEN participated and held an open session titled 'How the information society recasts women's citizenship – Stories from the CITIGEN programme'. Anita Gurumurthy, Desiree Lewis, Kate Lappin and Parminder Jeet Singh represented the network at the event.The CITIGEN session was divided into four sections, each of which were supported by short movies created to share the views and images from the CITIGEN research. These movies can be viewed here.
The big deal about the network age: Political economy conversations from the CITIGEN Network
This think piece builds on the insights from the work of CITIGEN. It brings together the conversations among the network of involved feminists through July 2010 to February 2012, to posit some key points of departure in feminist analyses, which could form tentative steps towards a feminist theory of change. Click here to read the paper.
Women and virtual citizenship? Gendered experiences of censorship and surveillance
The piece attempts to unravel the relationships between nation state, citizenship and the public sphere, communication and privacy rights, sexuality and morality in the backdrop of the information society and gender frameworks. The theme will be tackled by focussing on two clusters of enquiry: (1) communication rights and censorship and (2) privacy and surveillance. This approach is meant to create a feminist inroad into the prevalent, gender-blind discussions of Internet governance and citizenship that lends itself to elaborations on different levels, from abstract and theoretical hypotheses to discussions of distinct local, embodied experiences. Click here to read the paper.
Digital activism and violence against women: Changing landscapes of feminist activism in southern Africa
Desiree Lewis and Crystal Orderson
Desiree and Crystal focus on the local and national activism that enlist digital technology and confront violence against women as a site of innovative human rights struggles in the African region. The paper deals with feminist activism driven by electronic communications systems and hybridised forms, incorporating both traditional and new media. The study moves in-between the local, national and regional levels with the aim of teasing out the national and regional implications of local platforms and resistance. Click here to read the paper.
At the end of the research period, the research partners published policy briefs which outlined the critical outcomes of their research and provided policy insights. These policy briefs can be read here.
Based on the research carried out by APWLD, Philippa Smales outlines how the mobile phone is a vital tool to garner information, communicate and organise, for the vulnerable social group of migrant women domestic workers in Taiwan. This policy brief highlights the social and regulatory practices that impede access to mobile phones and provides relevant policy recommendations. Read the policy brief.
Sepali Kottegoda, Sachini Perera and Sarala Emmanuel
The Women in Media Collective (WMC) team studied marginalised women's engagement with different forms of new media in the Sri Lankan context. The findings from the research, especially those that provide insights on the impact of state ICT policies on women's engagement with new media, are discussed in the document. Read the policy brief.
Binitha V. Thampi and Aarti Kawlra
The India team created a network of women leaders in local governance through a digital platform, providing an innovative point of departure for catalysing a sense of solidarity among the women and a connection to the women's movement in Kerala. The potential of ICTs was sought to be harnessed to provide alternative spaces for the articulation of women's voices. The document captures policy insights from their research. Read the policy brief.
Ip Iam Chong and Lam Oi Wan
The document captures the insights from the qualitative study of the emerging techno-social paradigm in China in relation to women's engagement and practice of citizenship, online. It explores the dynamics of the multiple counter-publics and alternative public spheres in Hong Kong and Guangzhou, two distinctly different cities under the regimes of post-colonialism and authoritarianism, respectively. Read the policy brief.
Ibarra Gutierrez III and Sylvia Estrada-Claudio
The Filipino team undertook an action research project, which sought to explore whether and how ICTs can play a role in influencing lawmakers both directly and through the mobilisation of public opinion, to pass a reproductive health law that accounts for the realities of those most in need of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). The document elucidates the need for policy and programmatic interventions by the government. Read the policy brief.
Q. How does the issue of governance of digital space fit into the wider struggles for democracy and citizenship? Where do they intersect with feminist politics?
A. Given the centrality of digital media in our everyday lives – for keeping in touch with family and friends, for our work, entertainment, pleasure, civic participation .... for our lives and livelihoods, the governance of digital spaces is intrinsically linked to struggles for democracy and citizenship. It’s thus really important that women be at the literal tables of policy decision-making, and that feminists be savvy about their rights as digital users.
Q. What are your views about feminist theoretical endeavours in grappling with the network society phenomenon? What frontiers does feminism need to explore to retain its radical edge?
A. Feminist political economy in analyses of the network society is now needed more than ever. When we consider the highly commercial nature of social media today – when a projected valuation for the $5B IPO on Facebook is estimated to be between $75-100B!, we need to ask myriad questions about who profits, and who loses, in advertiser-driven economy. Users become a lucrative audience commodity, and it’s also a very gendered audience commodity. Let’s also not lose our focus on labour and how it is gendered– the labour that is enacted in many affective and emotional ways (as users), the labour of those working in the social media companies themselves (the more corporate ‘head office labour’ – what’s the gender division of upper management, board of directors..?) and what is the labour of those working in the manufacturing and production of software/hardware, etc.
Read the more detailed interview with Leslie Shade here.
More information about the CITIGEN network on www.gender-IS-citizenship.net
The CITIGEN programme is