Sunday, December 21, 2008

Wake Up.

It truly has been a wake-up year. While I haven't been in slumber to issues of Africa's development, I admit that, in the past, I have sidelined the deeply rooted issue of gender inequality. But it is always on my mind. Back home, where I can go enjoy a beer, watch ice hockey at the local pub with the boys and girls and not have to think about being categorized in a box because of age, race, religion or gender is a luxury. It is not only society or its institutions which instill multiculturalism and values of equality, but it is inside yourself; of how within us we decide not to oppress or judge. We do not stand for informal rules of engagement or culture that is not just.

For here is Africa where sexual violence and gender inequality reigns strong, convoluted within its tradition and culture; a difficult mix to break through. What development policy could possibly intervene in deeply enculturated beliefs? There is none.

It begins with you and me. It begins with listening and giving African feminism a chance to work on the continent. We look within ourselves and say the change starts now. At FTX, Joanna Kerr (Oxfam Canada) puts it rightly, “There is no vaccine to rid of patriarchy or a machine for economic justice”.

Within the technology sphere, my own observations see new technology help increase the divide between the rich and poor. As one who wants to see a more equal, just society, how do we “make tech just”? (Kerr, 2008).

Exposing these tech powers that oppress is a start: 1) English- only websites: how do you empower rural African women who do not speak or read English? Push for localization tools on the web.
Within ourselves we can grab the tech by the horns and not shy away from what seems complicated. “Re-envision a new world” (Kerr, 2008), make tech available to women for their work, and be creative at the sign of waking up.

Kerr, Joanna (2008). Speech at Feminist Tech Exchange November 12, 2008.

Check out Feminist Africa Journal (University of Cape Town)

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