IT for Change, Kutch Mahila Vikas Sangathan (KMVS), and Area Networking and Development Initiatives (ANANDI) collaborated in the 'Making Women's Voices and Votes Count', a two-year field project funded by UN Women, between January 2013-June 2015. Under this project,the three organisations with the support of the National Mission for the Empowerment of Women, aimed at using ICTs to catalyse a critical mass of women in local governance, construct a horizontal platform for peer-based support, and develop a discourse of governance and politics that is informed by women's rights perspectives. Specifically, the three organisations sought to harness the propensities of ICTs in their local organising efforts with Elected Women Representatives (EWRs) and marginalised women's collectives. IT for Change worked in Mysuru, Karnataka and the other two organisations in Gujarat.
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- Network building among women in local panchayats: This will entail creation of a support group focusing on a horizontal, peer to peer pedagogy that can offer a completely new point of departure for capacity building of women in local governance. Specifically, it will explore the use of SMS-based networking, and community radio and video to complement face to face meetings and as a space for dialogue.
- Creating new information and communication capabilities of EWRs and women's collectives: Through information centres, the project will explore how data bases, GIS tools, voice-based SMSes etc. can be used for women's access to entitlements and voice in local governance.
- Creating local media and techno-social processes that not only meet informational needs of EWRs and women's collectives but also allow gender debates to be taken to the community at large.
- Actively engaging with policy processes and capacity building institutions at national and state levels to share insights from the project on how ICTs can be deployed for structural change towards women's empowerment.
Between January 23 and 24 2013, IT for Change, Kutch Mahila Vikas Sangathan (KMVS), and Area Networking and Development Initiatives (ANANDI) organised a project planning meeting in Jan Vikas, Ahmedabad . The primary purpose of the meeting was to build a shared understanding of the project and agree upon key processes and commitments. The meeting began with a presentation from each organisation on their work so far, on women's political empowerment; and their reflections on the possibilities opened up by technologies. This was followed by a discussion on consolidating the big ideas, and working out the operational modalities of the partnership.
The key decisions arrived at the meeting were as follows:
- In all three sites, the project would firstly focus on facilitating peer networking of EWRs. Towards this, in specific, the possibilities of IVRS would be explored.
- For each of the four objectives of the project, the partners would work on building contextually appropriate quantitative and qualitative indicators to assess project impact.
- Radio broadcasts and narrow-casts, and the production and community screening of videos in the local idiom would be a core strategy for challenging the mainstream discourse on gender and discourse in the local public sphere.
- At each site, the project would also set up ICT-enabled community information centres, to be managed and owned by women's collectives at the local level, for enhancing women's engagement with local governance systems, and to enable women to successfully negotiate for their entitlement claims on the state.
- The project would also focus on exploring the possibilities offered by GIS for catalysing discussions around planning, development and governance with marginalised women's collectives, to enable them to critically engage with formal and informal political structures