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Gender and ICT Workshop for Legislative Advocates

by WomensHub Web Team


WomensHub ran a workshop on Gender and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) issues for members of the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development Foundation, Inc. (PLCPD) last March 7, 2003. The PLCPD is a non-government organization that works with and among members and staff of Congress and Senate towards substantive and progressive policy changes in population and human development concerns. Sixteen female and six male staff members of PLCPD attended the workshop.

The workshop aimed to sensitize members of PLCPD on issues relating to gender equality, women’s empowement and ICT. The workshop is part of an ongoing institutional cooperation agreement between WomensHub and PLCP to jointly develop a strategic policy and legislative framework for gender and ICT. Later this year, PLCPD will run a workshop on legislative advocacy for members of WomensHub.

WomensHub founding member, Cheekay Cinco, presented “Women’s Empowerment, Gender and ICT Issues: Making the Connections” in which she talked about gender concepts and levels of gender problems. She also discussed access and control, affordability, know how, education, training and illiteracy rate, content and language, power and decision making as issues in the digital divide. The digital divide refers to the extreme disparity in access to information and communication technology between groups of people. People from the global South, for example, suffer from poor technology infrastructure owing to economic poverty, scarcity in resources, illiteracy and low levels of education. The global North, on the other hand has unchallenged access and control over ICT and its development and direction. Cinco also tackled the gender digital divide which is characterized by disparity in access to ICT between men and women.

Tess Hocson, also a founding member of WomensHub provided a historical overview of the “Gender & ICT Policies in the Philippines” in the context of ICT policies and initiatives from the time of Ramos presidency up to the current Arroyo administration.
According to Hocson , the Philippine government sees ICTs as an integral part in invigorating the failing economy. There has been a recognition that in order to fully participate in the global economy, the Philippines should make strategic use of these new technologies. Hocson’s presentation is based largely on a recent policy study done by WomensHub which reviewed ICT strategies, legislations and programs of the Philippine government in the last ten years.

Hocson also cited a research study done by two WomensHub member to review Gender and ICT Policymaking in six Asian countries. The study which was commissioned by the UNESCAP in 2001, pointed out the following trends:

· Lack of attention to gender equality goals and women’ s advancement in national ICT development frameworks and strategies.

· Gender is not an explicit theme in national IT plans; they are generally silent on gender or women-focused concerns.

· Marginal sectors are basically treated as a disaggregated bloc tacked under the general heading of human resource development.

At the end of the workshop, both the participants and the workshop organizers expressed the following common concerns:

1. There is a need to emphasise women’ s effective participation in the information society needs to be assured if countries are to successfully achieve their development goals and priorities.

2. The absence of a gender perspective in assessing the implications of ICT policies, programmes and projects for women and men can only perpetuate the gender and digital divide.

3. There is very little baseline data on how it is in the Philippines, it is difficult to accurately describe the impact of ICT on women's lives.


Published on 30 March 2003

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