NGO GSWG at the Commission on the Status of Women....

The "Seven Musts": Priority Issues for Gender Equality in the WSIS Process
Prepared by the CSWG
Spanish version here >>

  1. An intersectional approach. Gender mainstreaming in the WSIS process needs a nuanced approach that takes into account the diverse needs and perspectives of women emanating from differences in geo-political, historical, class-based, racial, ethnic and other contexts. For gender issues to be said to be effectively addressed in the WSIS process, strategies and solutions for achieving gender equality must strike at the root of unequal power relations - not just between men and women, but more fundamentally between rich and poor, North and South, urban and rural, empowered and marginalised.
  2. Building on Global Consensus. The WSIS needs to place as its core mission to address the fundamental socio-economic and political inequities globally, through a process of consensus building. All negotiations and agreements made at the WSIS need to be based on a reaffirmation to furthering commitments made at previous United Nations conferences and summits, in particular the World Conferences on Women in Nairobi and Beijing, as well as those focused on the rights of the child, on environment and development, human rights, population and social development.
  3. People-centred development. Only development that embraces the principles of social justice and gender equality can be said to centrally address women's needs and redress fundamental economic and socio-cultural divides. Market-based development solutions often fail to address more deep-rooted and persistent subordination that the poorest and most marginalised women face.
  4. Respect for Diversity. The sharp focus on digital technologies in the WSIS process has excluded thus far the recognition of the importance of traditional and indigenous forms of media and communications that more accurately reflect the communications needs and preferences of the diversity of cultural, linguistic, ethics and value systems in our societies. Respect for our vast diversity needs to be reflected in the diversity of solutions and strategies, since the focus on one solution, i.e. the digital solution is antithetical to human opportunities and to the notion of democracy overall.
  5. Peace and Human Development. The current framework and premises of the WSIS is bereft of peace and security questions and the role of the information society in building an environment that enhances the possibility of world peace, and the protection and promotion of human rights and democracy. Peace is inextricably linked to the goals of equality and development, and of crucial importance to women and children, who suffer the most dire consequences of civil and military strife. There is a dire need to commit to harnessing the use of information and communication channels, including mainstream and alternative media, in service of peace, and strong opposition to all wars.
  6. Human Rights Framework. A human rights framework needs to be applied in the issues analyses, strategies and solutions of the WSIS process. Women's human rights instruments, and crucial communications rights such as freedom of expression, the right to information, and the right to communicate need to be reiterated in the final outcomes of the WSIS. Emerging concerns such as "information security" on the Internet should not in anyway infringe on people's privacy and right to communicate freely, using information and communications technologies. Policies that seek to redress the growing use of the Internet for trafficking, violent adult pornography, and pedophilia rings, must not under any circumstances be used for centralist control of all other content development on the Web.
  7. Supporting local solutions. The current framework of infrastructure development of ICTS is heavily reliant on "creating stimulating regulatory environments and fiscal incentives" to encourage investments from multinational IT, media, and entertainment corporations from the North in countries of the South. We need to encourage local, low-cost and open source solutions, and South-South exchanges that prevent the growth of monopolies in the ICT sector. There is also an urgent need to encourage local content producers, through public funding support to prevent "content dumping" from large entertainment corporations in the United States to the rest of the world.