Justice in cyber space redraws colonial boundaries

Date: January 1, 1970
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Johannesburg 21 November: The Cyber Dialogues, piloted during last year?s Sixteen Days of Activism on Gender Violence, are set to redraw the map of Southern Africa through chat rooms in six languages that cut across artificial colonial boundaries.

Under the banner “Making IT work for gender justice” the cyber dialogues that start with a “taking stock” session on 24 November are the culmination of training workshops around the region conducted by Gender Links (GL) in partnership with the Gender and Media Southern African (GEMSA) Network.
In South Africa, GL and partners in the South African Gender and Media Network (SAGEM) as well as the Government Information and Communication Services (GCIS) have trained communities in two rural centres in each of the nine provinces. GL has also trained councilors and facilitators in Johannesburg and Msunduzi municipalities that will serve as hubs.
“Last year we showed that it is possible to appropriate technologies that often subvert women’s rights and turn them to our cause,” said GL executive director and GEMSA Chair Colleen Lowe Morna. “This year we are using the cyber dialogues to make the point that gender violence, and the solutions to it, know no boundaries.”
Advocates of gender justice in Swaziland, southern Zimbabwe, and large parts of South Africa will be able to talk to each other in the sister languages of isiZulu, siSwati and siNdebele. Chatters in Lesotho will be able to link up with Sotho speakers in South Africa.
Namibians will have the choice of joining the English chat room (the official language in Namibia) or the Afrikaans chat room (the language still spoken language by many Namibians) being run out of Cape Town. North Eastern Zambians can join the Chichewa chat room being anchored by the Malawi Institute of Journalism, while Zimbabweans in the country and in the Diaspora will have a Shona chat room.
Mauritians and Seychellois will be able to chat away in Creole, while East Africans and Northern Mozambicans can unite in their lingua franca, kiSwahili.  
The Sixteen Days is the period from 25 November 2005 (International Day of No Violence Against Women) to 10 December (Human Rights Day). On these two days, and the other three international days of the campaign (World Aids Day on 1 December; International Day for the Disabled on 3 December and the anniversary of the Montreal Massacre on 6 December) all regional participants will join in one chat room in English.
The chats, which give citizens access to experts and decision-makers, are organised around different themes facilitated by NGOs with expertise in these fields. The action points will be used to monitor progress in the year ahead. In South Africa, participants will be asked to comment on a draft National Action Plan to End Gender Violence that arises from an audit of the commitments made in 2004.
(For more information go to www.genderlinks.org za or phone Kubi on 27 (0) 82 378 8239.)

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