At the Women Information Technology Transfer (WITT) “Trainers Exchange Event 2005” (TEE 2005), there was much dialogue about how women’s organizations can take advantage of ICTs to expedite their work. This is one of the more important segments of WITT, the regional initiative aimed at advancing the ICT capacities of women’s organizations of Eastern and Central Europe.
The overarching goal of TEE and WITT is to build favorable workspaces for WNGOs in the domain of ICTs, so that they can create strategies together and independently. This would decrease the gap between better-developed WNGOs and less developed ones, but it would also be an opportunity for smaller organizations to become ‘updated’ and just as professional as any more established women’s group.
In the recent history, or rather herstory, of using Information Communication Technology or ICTs in Central and Eastern Europe, there appears to be a growing need for strengthening ICT capacities in the work of women’s non-governmental organizations (WNGOs). Namely, even though there are numerous women’s groups that are actively working for social change in their respective communities, ICTs remain abstract as strategic tools since many of these groups do not have continuous access to this dominant media.
“The use of ICTs helps increase the visibility of NGO activity at different levels: local, national, regional, global. It helps establish new contacts, partnerships, donors,” says Angela Nestorovska, TEE participant and web administrator at the Foundation Metamorphosis in Macedonia.
But how many women’s organizations understand the power of ICTs to support them in achieving a strategic impact for positive changes — both for short-term and long-term work? And what are the differences in conditions between WNGOs in the European Union (EU) countries and those not yet in the EU?
“In Moldova, less than 50% of the WNGOs use Internet and few of these organizations (usually the biggest ones that work in the capital) have a website. Many organizations are either too small or do not have sufficient financing for Internet access. The biggest problem is that a lot of them do not have computers at all,” says Alyona Dorosh, a program coordinator at the National Women’s Studies and Information Center in Moldova. “ICTs may be agents of change elsewhere; in countries like Moldova organizations are far from being able to create strategies that include and use ICTs.”
Women participants at the TEE stressed that it is of utmost importance to think about and work on developing an equal distribution of ICTs among WNGOs and to strategically plan the setting of standards in their use — as a means of coming closer to actualizing common goals. Malgorzata Tarasiewicz, Director of the Network of East West Women in Poland says that, “In Poland and other new EU countries, ecology organizations and other non-women’s NGOs are already getting good amounts of money for promoting civil society through using ICTs. And, for some reason, WNGOs are not making strategies to use the ICTs and get funds, so it is important to change this and not just watch as the river of money flows past us.”