African women lead the way in global IT initiative

Date: January 1, 1970
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African NGOs are turning the digital divide on its head by taking the cyber dialogues to the Beijing Plus Ten Review in New York in early March.
Two African NGOs are turning the digital divide on its head by taking the cyber dialogues pioneered by one of them to the Beijing Plus Ten Review in New York in early March.

Brainchild of Gender Links which piloted daily Internet link ups between community groups across ’s nine provinces during the Sixteen Days of Activism on Gender Violence last year, the cyber dialogues drew the attention of UNIFEM Executive Director, Noelene Heyzer, during a visit to the country (read the cyber dialogues report).

Some e-mails, phone calls and a meeting later, GL and its East African partner the African Woman and Child Feature Service (AWC) have formed a partnership with UNIFEM, the World Bank and Microsoft to run seven dialogues linked to a daily paper, GEM News, during the review.

Over 50 networks and institutions around the globe, including UNIFEM regional and World Bank Public Information offices, will help to provide access for women to air their views on breaking news that will be channeled back into the conference through a daily page in the newspaper called “cyber link.”

“This is an excellent example of African women using IT to bridge the divide between north and south, women and men,” said GL director Colleen Lowe Morna. “It is e-governance at its best and is part of our ongoing campaign to harness the Internet – that has often been used to denigrate women – as one of the most powerful tools at our disposal for claiming women’s rights.”

Key themes and dates, and information on how to get involved, are attached. More information can also be obtained on, or by contacting Colleen Lowe Morna on 27 (0) 82 651 6995;; or Kubi Rama on 27 (0) 82 378 8239;; or


Dates and themes

The cyber dialogues will take place from 8am to 10am NEW YORK time each day on the dates and themes listed below (view themes):

  • Wednesday 2 March: Women’s rights, including reproductive health and education.
  • Thursday 3 March: The economy and sustainable development, including the impact of natural disasters.
  • Friday 4 March: Gender and governance, including the 50/50 campaign; women’s leadership and women in peace building.
  • Monday 7 March: HIV/AIDS including its links to gender violence and HIV/AIDS; prevention, treatment and care.
  • Tuesday 8 March- International Women’s Day – Gender violence, including sexual violence as a weapon of war and trafficking of women.
  • Wednesday 9 March: Media and communication, including the gender digital divide and challenging gender stereotypes through the media.
  • Thursday 10 March: Looking ahead, including government structures; the women’s movement; young women and feminism and addressing backlash.

How to get involved

  • Join the list serve by sending an e mail to
  • Read the highlights of GEM News: You will receive an e mail news summary before the chat begins on the main news of the day and key facts for the theme of the day.
  • Have a real chat: Get together with a group of people and have a live chat where you work, or where you can find access (e.g. the World Bank Public Information Centre in your country) before or after the start of the global Internet link up; or simply log in on your own wherever you may be.
  • Chat in cyber space: Log onto at the equivalent time to 8 am New York time (for example in Johannesburg this will be 3 pm; in Nairobi 4pm and in 5pm). PLEASE CHECK WHAT TIME THIS IS IN YOUR COUNTRY TO AVOID DISAPPOINTMENT. Please note that you can log on at any time during the two hour period from 8 am to 10 am New York time. Go to the chat room that is centrally displayed on the website and join the chat!!
  • Make your voice count by voting in the poll question each day on
  • Post a message on the bulletin board: At any time of the day from 2-10 March, you can post a message on the bulletin board by going to
  • Read a summary of the day’s discussion: Later each day you can read a summary of the day’s discussion by going to the summary section of the cyber dialogues website.
  • Read the full newspaper: During the conference you can read the full version of GEM News @B Plus Ten by going to
  • Get the media interested: Get your local media interested in receiving stories tailored to their needs from the GEM News Service by sending an e mail to



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