CITIGEN Asia: Gender and Citizenship in the Information Society

 The Gender and Citizenship in the Information Society (CITIGEN), launched in 2010, was an Asia-wide research programme co-ordinated by IT for Change and supported by the The International Development Research Centre (IDRC). It explored the notion of marginalised women's citizenship as a normative project or an aspiration for equitable social membership contained in the promise of an emerging techno-social order. It also aimed to build a network of researchers and scholars engaged in policy research and advocacy on information society and gender issues in the Asia region.

Six research partners from Sri Lanka, Philippines, China, Hong Kong / Taiwan, India and Bangladesh studied various aspects of the terrain. Eminent scholars in the field from Costa Rica, Pakistan, Thailand, Germany and South Africa, wrote think pieces delving into the research subject from their specific perspectives and contexts. The research was further enriched by the two large meetings held at the various phases of the programme, which brought in feminist scholars and practitioners from across fields, to share and discuss the tentative outcomes of the programme.

Project Outputs

Research Reports

Key Findings from the CITIGEN Programme

This is a summary report from IT for Change, presenting the key research insights arising out of the research projects and think pieces commissioned as part of the CITIGEN programme.

Empowering Women Leaders at the Local Level - India Research Report

This report explores the creation of a new technologically mediated ‘invented space’ for women’s empowerment for revitalising ‘invited spaces’ of governance and to enable their active civic and political engagement at the local level in Kerala, India. It seeks the possibility of building solidarity across differences among women through the creation of Gramamukya, a digital platform, as a ‘communication community’ within the emerging transnational public sphere.

Bringing the Local and the Intimate to the National and Institutional - Philippines Research Report

This feminist action research project attempts to provide a platform, through an online magazine, for the experiences, needs, desires and analysis of marginalised women, men and youth in the Philippines, within the theme of sexual and reproductive health services and rights. The project aimed to influence lawmakers both directly and through public opinion by bringing forth stories and accounts of those community members most in need of sexual and reproductive health services and rights (SRHR), and that this increased voice and visibility could possibly lead into the passing of a reproductive health law.

Women's Online Participation and the Transformation of Citizenship - China Research Report

This study explores the dynamics of the emergence of multiple counter and alternative public spheres in Hong Kong and Guangzhou, two distinctive Chinese societies under the regimes of post-colonialism and authoritarianism. The research examines the uses of new media and technologies among different social agents - women's organisations and activists - in community building and campaigns for social justice. This research examines closely the appropriation of the Internet technology by women from different social positions. With attention to the political dynamics and structures, it attempts to reflect upon and re-strategise feminist practice in engaging with local politics through new media.

Policy Briefs

Migrant Women Domestic Workers and Freedom of Communication in Taiwan: A Case for Barrier-Free Access to Mobile Phones as a Basic Right

Based on the research carried out by APWLD under the aegis of CITIGEN, Philippa Smales showcases that for the vulnerable social group of migrant women domestic workers in Taiwan, the mobile phone is a vital tool to garner information, communicate and organise. By creating the channel for de facto access to their freedom to communicate, the mobile phone directly addresses the social and legal vulnerability of migrant women domestic workers. This policy brief highlights the social and regulatory practices that impede access to mobile phones and provides relevant policy recommendations.

ICT Access for Women from the Margins: Lessons from Sri Lanka

The Women in Media Collective (WMC) researched women's engagement with different forms of new media in the Sri Lankan context, focusing particularly on those women located at the margins of the nation-state. 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 briefly in this document along with a few policy recommendations.

The Gramamukhya Initiative: Empowering Women Leaders at the Local Level in Kerala

It was felt that the networking of women leaders in local governance through a digital platform would provide an innovative point of departure for catalysing a sense of solidarity among themselves and a connection to the women's movement in Kerala. The potential of information and communication technologies was thus sought to be harnessed to provide alternative spaces for the articulation of women's voices.

Women’s Online Participation and the Transformation of Citizenship: A Study in Hong Kong and Guangzhou

This paper explores the dynamics of the multiple counter-publics and alternative public spheres in Hong Kong and Guangzhou, two distinctive Chinese societies under the regimes of post-colonialism and authoritarianism, respectively. The research study looked at the uses of new media among women's organisations and activists for community building and campaigns for social justice. The policy brief also makes several policy recommendations for how feminist intervention in citizen movements can be revitalised in China and how digital spaces will need to be imagined and deployed.

Enhancing Participation in Governance Through ICTs: Insights from a Project with Community Reporters in Manila

Under this program, Likhaan 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).

Think Pieces

The Big Deal about the Network Age: Political Economy Conversations from the CITIGEN Network

This think piece 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.

Gender and Information Society in Central America: Between the Immediate and the Strategic Scenarios

The paper provides an overview of the feminist struggles and their engagement with ICTs, embedded in the political and economic realities of the Central American region. In particular, Margarita Salas focuses on struggles in Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Costa Rica. Through her paper, she examines the interaction between the global, national and the community contexts and studies the need for and the depth of engagement with ICTs required by feminist movements in the region.

Gender and Citizenship in the Information Society: A Perspective from Pakistan

The paper explores the emerging information society context in Pakistan, analysing subjectivities in relation to the emerging digital ecologies. Farida begins with a brief overview of some of the key issues related to female citizenship. She then examines the breaching of the jealously guarded borders of the traditional private-public spheres through the radio, that influenced isolated women to support instead of oppose, the regressive Taliban agenda in Swat. The final section of the paper reflects on the opportunities afforded by social network media and digital technologies for those with access to reconfigure the meaning of citizenship, based on the experience of activism and humanitarian relief in Pakistan.

Internet Rights, Netizen's Sub-culture and Gender Perspectives During Political Transformation in Thailand

The paper provides a snapshot of the current usage of ICTs in Thailand using gender aggregated data, followed by an account of the political resistance being built by Internet users or 'netizens' in order to counter government restriction and control over the freedom to access and express using online spaces. The paper explores the possibilities of new media spaces, typified by 'free culture', for discourse shaping in areas of not only civil and political rights but also gender justice. The paper ends with relevant policy recommendations.

Women and Virtual Citizenship? Gendered Experiences of Censorship and Surveillance

This 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.

Digital Activism and Violence Against Women: Changing Landscapes of Feminist Activism in Southern Africa

This piece focuses 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.


You can find more resources on the project microsite here.


Focus Areas
What We Do
Resource Type