Electronic networking is being discovered by women as a useful medium for gaining access to information globally and for interacting quickly with people in many parts of the world, something which was not possible just a few years ago. Increasingly, networking is viewed as a tool for feminist empowerment. Clearly, however, the cost of equipment, lack of training and the hazards and irritation that some women have encountered on line, as well as the limitations women face in allocating time to networking activities, are obstacles yet to be overcome in many parts of the world.
At the FWCW, which served to bring women from all parts of the globe together, including through electronic networking, the call was for greater participation by women in the use of the new technologies.
To this end, networks need to be strengthened to help women overcome some of these obstacles and to access information disseminated electronically through traditional media as well as to provide training and assistance in direct use of the Internet. Some of the existing networks in this regard include the Network of East-West Women for Eastern and Central Europe, FemNet in Africa, Laneta in Mexico, ALAI in Latin America, Virtual Sisterhood in North America, and the APC networks, which operate globally. The United Nations is developing WomenWatch as part of the global effort to give women better access to electronic communications (see WomenWatch below).
The information revolution offers both opportunities and challenges to women. Lessons from efforts to make the traditional media more gender- sensitive offer some lessons for women in order for them to participate actively in the development of the new communication technologies. If used effectively, these new technologies have the potential to help women step out of their isolation and to support the growing globalization of the women's movement.
Many bodies in the United Nations system are continuing efforts to study the impact of the information revolution,taking into account the results of recent global conferences, including the Beijing Conference,and to make effective use of the new technologies for monitoring follow-up to these events. The System-Wide Medium-Term Plan for the Advancement of Women, 1996-2001 is one tool being used by the UN system to support implementation of the PfA adopted at Beijing. The Commission on the Status of Women and the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations will review implementation of the goals of the PfA in 1998 and 2000. Along with Governments, women's groups and the media, the United Nations is seeking to take advantage of the information superhighway to increase awareness of the global agenda as agreed at these conferences and to stimulate discussion and action on a global scale.
Women, the Information Revolution and the Beijing Conference
How fast are computer networks growing?
How are women using the information superhighway?
What did the Fourth World Conference on Women say about Electronic Networking?
Key Terms to Know
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