Wednesday, December 03, 2008

2.0 AWID Trip Summary

Association for Women’s Rights in Development hosts a women’s rights conference every three years and this recent Cape Town forum saw its largest delegation of 2200+ people with one-third of the delegates arriving from the African continent. According to IDRC records, we have been supporting AWID research and forum activities since 1999. This current year, it appears that IDRC supported two specific projects: 1) funding FTX participants to AWID forum (Pan Asia: 105129) and 2) conceptual framework research on “Building Feminist Movements and Organizations” (WRC: 105411). From my observations, IDRC research partners particularly connected to APC are highly involved with AWID activities and have influenced the direction of including ICTs and women’s rights in the agenda.

2.2.1 FTX Hub: APC was designated a space for FTX participants and others to used the FTX hub as their meeting place or technology learning space during the Forum. I felt the Hub made the forum experience more personalized particularly for the FTX delegates to mingle with known faces. They were able to use their new skills to blog, or trial applications like FrontlineSMS to inform FTX of the events or experiences during the forum. Many of the prominent speakers at the forum were also interviewed on online radio program FIRE (FemTalk) hosted by the Hub.

2.2.2 Plenary: One major observation was that during plenary, AWID ensured that the panel was inclusive of all different types of women particularly those who are usually marginalized within their respective societies (ie. Aboriginal, LGBT, disabled, etc). The inclusion of all women was clear and demonstrated throughout the forum such as the African Feminist Forum recent declaration to ensure the inclusion of all women regardless of ethnicity or gender identity. - Charter of Feminist Principles for African Feminists.

2.2.3 Other Highlights: I highly recommend supporting future research discussions on the session “Development Paradigms and Practices from a Feminist Perspective”. This session had a full packed audience but the debate did not go further than just basic iterations about the World Social Forum and stating the need to explore alternatives beyond neo-liberal ideologies.

2.2.4 Feminist Africa: I attended a book launch of a journal publication, “Feminist Africa”. South Africa’s Deputy Speaker and former Deputy Minister of Defence, Nozizwe Madladla – Routledge and feminist scholar, Yaliwe Clarke, spoke about the recent theme on militarism, conflict and Women’s activism. They gave fascinating perspectives on the South African arms deal, gendered post-conflict and African military recruitment. It would be interesting to see this debate go further with the African Gender Institute.

2.2.5 IGF: IT for Change hosted Southern Feminist Perspectives on the Information Society. Ms. Anita Gurumurthy used the space to discuss internet gender justice for the upcoming Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Hyderabad, India. They planned to present a document to address gender inequalities and women’s communication rights.

2.2.6 Funding Forum: There was also much debate throughout the forum on funding mobilization particularly for women rights movements and movement building. The African Women’s Development Fund has a wonderful list of funders for women’s rights under their publication, “Where is the money for Women’s Rights in Africa” (the publication is not online but I have a physical copy). Appendix A has the links to all of the women’s rights funding organizations.
For more information and summary of plenary sessions, go to the AWID Forum 2008 website:

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