Archive | Technology

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IWDN Coordinator Presents on Women, Tech, and Democracy Panel During Social Media Week

Posted on 05 March 2013 by

On February 19, 2013, as Women’s Learning Partnership (WLP) Program Associate and the International Women’s Democracy Network Coordinator, I spoke on the panel, “Women, Tech, and Democracy: The Next Frontier,” as part of Social Media Week in Washington, DC, at the National Democratic Institute (NDI).  I presented on WLP’s successful technology programs, WLP Partner advocacy campaigns that are bolstered by social media, the International Women’s Democracy Network, and WLP’s forthcoming Online Learning Portal, which will serve as a vehicle to build constituent’s capacities by hosting eCourses and webinars.

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History books vs YouTube: Democratization and the Arab Spring

Posted on 19 March 2012 by

Abandoned Fax Machine (cc) Abhisek Sarda

The official narrative’s toughest competitor is now YouTube.

Reports of horror have been coming in from Homs, Syria. Last year in Deraa (Syria also), a family was returned the horrifyingly mutilated body of their 13 year-old child. Children had playfully scribbled “the people desire the downfall of the regime” on a wall, and were immediately rounded up by the authorities. During their long disappearance, when parents asked news of their children, they were told to go “make some more [children]”. ‘Child Martyr’ Hamza Ali el-Khateeb’s body was eventually returned bruised, burnt, riddled with bullets, and other unmentionable atrocities. His parents posted a video of the horror on YouTube.

In the past, it was very much the case that history was written by the victors. The history books and official newspapers primarily reflected one point of view and the victims’ accounts disappeared. Today, YouTube and easily-duplicated digital records are standing neck-to-neck with these official narratives; multiple accounts will live on.

Governments clearly sense this. On January 28, 2011, the Egyptian government shut down the country’s internet access down to a single cable to keep the Cairo stock exchange running.  The whole country and its activists were disconnected. However a group of cyberactivists called Telecomix engineered a parallel access solution using analog fax machines and telephone landlines. 50 or so activists were hooked up this way, and information was once again able to flow out of Egypt. This information was able not only to help activists organize on the ground, but also to impact citizens and voters around the world.

If Tunisian author Tahir Ben Jelloun is correct, the Arab Spring is also seeing the emergence of ‘the individual’. He argues that whereas in the past, Arab society focused on the clan, the tribe, the family at the expense of the individual, that now the Arab individual is being born and will ultimately prevail in the social fabric. What is key is that the individual is the basis of democracy, where one individual is one vote, and one vote can determine an election’s outcome.

YouTube, as well as other digital activism tools, can influence faraway voters in a country’s election as they assess the candidates’ ability to respond to human rights crises and violations. Sadly, at the same time, we hear political analysts explain that world leaders turning a blind eye in Syria is directly tied to this being a big election year – in Russia, the US, France, Mexico, Venezuela and many others.

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Women Drive Change – Call for Women + Tech Photos

Posted on 01 February 2012 by

While I was already thrilled to be representing WLP as a participant in SXSW* this year, after just getting off a planning call with my co-panelists, I am even more energized for our event — only a few weeks away!

WLP Youth Tech Festival participants practice using tech for women's empowerment (2011; Amman, Jordan)

Our SXSW panel, “Women Drive Change: Tech in the Global South,” will discuss how women in the Global South are using technology in new and creative ways to change the world, from leveraging social media for political power, to using mobile technologies to start their own businesses, to breaking gender barriers with the support of tech-based tools.

But…we need your help! In preparing for our presentation, we are collecting photos related to the theme of “women and technology in the Global South” and would love to incorporate your contributions! So, PLEASE SEND YOUR PHOTOS either via twitter, using #SXFemTech or WLP’s Twitter account @WLP1, or via Facebook on our SXSW panel page. If you have trouble sending us a picture via Twitter or Facebook, just leave me a comment below with your email address and I’ll be in touch.

In addition to your photos, please share any articles, thoughts, or experiences related to women and tech in the Global South.

Looking forward to hearing from you and seeing your beautiful pictures!

For those who can make it to Austin on March 13, come join our conversation 3:30-4:30 pm at the AT&T Conference Hotel, Salon E.

For more information on the panel discussion and my amazing co-panelists, please visit our event page.

*For those of you unfamiliar with SXSW…
What started as a showcase for cutting-edge musicians has since morphed into a massive ten day event that essentially takes over the city of Austin, Texas and includes music, a film festival, and SXSW Interactive, which highlights new developments in the world of technology.

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Making Political Activism Go Viral in Morocco

Posted on 29 November 2011 by

I recently had the opportunity to participate in and facilitate a Regional Institute for Training of Women Trainers in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for Advocacy in Rabat, Morocco and was amazed with the youth’s passion and creative use of technology. This training was designed to build the capacity of ADFM to use social media and other technologies to strengthen and support their campaigns, and to incorporate using technology for political participation in their trainings at the grassroots level. The Institute focused on advocacy— and its outcomes were extraordinary! The twenty youth participants were clearly motivated to learn and use a variety of social media tools, such as blogs, to effectively make their campaigns more visible online, in order to gain support and further raise awareness. During this training there were four topics on which advocacy campaigns were created. The creativity of each campaign’s team was on display in their self-designed videos, blogs, websites, and slogans. The campaigns included Combatting Violence Against Women, Family and Children’s Rights, Women and Political Participation, and Stopping Sex Trafficking. Each group used social media to connect with other organizations and activists to share news, ideas, strategies, and to start new dialogues.

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Gloria Steinem’s “Raising a baby online”: challenges of online activism

Posted on 04 October 2011 by

In a Huffington Post interview, Gloria Steinem gives a spot-on and concise analysis of the challenges of online activism -part balance, part ability to transfer an online “Like” click to a sustained, meaningful, and successful activism effort

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Redesigned Website Launches…The Dust (Almost) Settles…

Posted on 02 December 2010 by

This has been a long and momentous summer for us on the technology side of things. We undertook a major upgrade of our infrastructure which included cabling our office (Cat 6!), replacing our file server (virtualization, here we come), and reconfiguring our server room (with a pseudo telco closet hiding in a cabinet). Through this all, we were also tackling a redesign of our website (in combination with upgrading Drupal, our content management system), an upgrade of our web applications (WordPress, Mailman, Moodle, and so on), and migrating it all to a new provider for web hosting (shared VPS – Virtual Private Server).

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The Future Is Bright: Arab Youth at Tech Fest Ready for Social and Gender Justice

Posted on 05 November 2010 by

I was invited to participate in the Second Youth Tech Festival in Amman, Jordan that took place on August 7th – 8th, 2010. It was quite an interesting experience to meet with young people my age who are really enthusiastic, energetic and who demonstrate a great interest in effecting social change.

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How Not to Make a Sale

Posted on 13 August 2010 by

A few days ago, two communications salespeople walked into the office. They were both men, wearing nice suits and ties, and both carried themselves very professionally.

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Charting the Rise and Fall of PlayPump

Posted on 30 July 2010 by

PlayPump is a merry go-round for children to play. Behind the scenes, it is also a water pump. While the children are playing and having fun, they are also pumping water into a storage tank for their community’s use. It seemed like an elegantly simple concept and very cool technology. After years of favorable press and lots of money, the initiative seems to be on the rocks.

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Ignore the Skeptics: Today’s Technology Is Key to Political Mobilization

Posted on 28 July 2010 by

In a recent New York Times op-ed “When Arabs Tweet” (July 22), Rami Khouri, editor-at-large of Lebanon’s The Daily Star, discussed the upsurge in the use of digital technologies and social networking for political ends by young Arabs and the support for this trend by the U.S. government. In the piece, Mr. Khouri rightly noted that the U.S. would be wise to align its approach to anti-democratic regimes in the Middle East with its support for democracy promotion at the grassroots level. However, his argument that digital technologies and social networking give only the illusion of activism ignores both their recent track record and their future potential. Now, this is not to be naïve. Sending text messages and posting videos to Youtube will not bring down authoritarian regimes. But, these technologies are key tools of modern mobilization.

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Jordanian Youth and Women to Lead the Way in November Elections

Posted on 20 July 2010 by

Coming up in the first week of August, Sisterhood Is Global Institute/Jordan and WLP are launching the second Youth Tech Festival for 150 youth from across Jordan with a focus on preparing youth to participate in upcoming elections in November 2010. I am really excited to see what the outcomes of this year’s Youth Tech Festival will be! Last year’s Youth Tech Festival in Jordan was a resounding success as youth created campaigns and videos to combat violence against women. This year the participating youth will create independent projects with a focus on women’s political participation, reconvening in the fall to share their work and to celebrate. (Make sure to check back to see samples of their work.) It’s pretty amazing to see the creative initiatives these young activists come up with when they are inspired to lead change in their communities.

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Urgent Evoke: Online Learning as an Adventure Game

Posted on 02 July 2010 by

Some country in the Middle East. A woman senator, the proponent of a bill to give women equal rights to vote, has a problem. Sareh, an outspoken activist of the women’s rights movement, has been kidnapped and is being forced to issue statements that the parliament should NOT approve the women’s voting rights bill. The senator calls on Alchemy, who resides in Senegal and is the organizer of a secret network of stealth innovators. Alchemy issues an Urgent Evoke.

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