January 17, 2003

WSIS UPDATE: REPORT FROM THE GENDER FORUM AT THE WSIS ASIA/PACIFIC
REGIONAL MEETING IN JAPAN

By Mavic Cabrera-Balleza, Isis International-Manila

Tokyo, 13 January 2003---
-Gender-based inequity in employment in the IT industry.
-English language dominance of Information and Communication
TechnoIogies (ICT) in both software and content that further isolates
women.
-Lack of support for women’s effective participation in the information
society.

These are just some of the issues that are being raised by the 56
participants to the Asia-Pacific Gender Forum for the World Summit on
the Information Society (WSIS), one of the side events for the
Asia/Pacific Regional Conference for WSIS that is currently being held
in Tokyo, Japan.

The Gender Forum participants have also expressed concern over the
absence of a gender perspective in assessing the implications of
national and international ICT policies, programmes and projects for
women and men, further perpetuating the gender and digital divide.

Gender Forum participants stated that the developments that shape the
information society should pursue goals of gender equality and women’s
advancement, as well as social, political and economic justice,
sustainable human development, and support for cultural and linguistic
diversity.

They are also calling on all government delegates to the Tokyo meeting
to make mandatory the collection and accessibility of sex-disaggregated
data and the development of gender-sensitive indicators in the access,
use, and impact of, ICT.

As to the economic impact of new ICTs, Gender Forum participants have
drawn attention to the jobs that are being generated especially in
developing countries. Most of these jobs are in the service industries
in information processing, banking, insurance, printing and publishing.
Outsourcing jobs for women, notably in India and the Philippines, are in
call centres, information services and data entry, as well as geographic
information systems and software programming. As in many other
industries, women have not reached technical, managerial and
decision-making high-level positions.

The Asia Pacific Gender Forum was organised by Asian Pacific Women's
Information Network Centre(APWINC), Association for Progressive
Communication/Women's Networking Support Programme(APC/WNSP) and Japan
Women’s Watch, in collaboration with Isis International-Manila, Hong
Kong Federation of Women' s Centres, IT for Change, NPO Coper, Korean
Women's Development Institute, Campaign for Popular Media Reform and the
Centre for Women’s Research -Sri Lanka.