Women’s organizations in Macedonia are at the very beginning in terms of using ICTs as strategic tools in their work. The training organized by WITT Focal Point Eleonora Delova, who is a member of the women’s organization Akcija Zdruzenska was the initial step in mobilizing women’s organizations to better understand the importance and benefits of this issue.
Hosting organization: Akcija Zdruzenska
Trainers: Natasa Stevanic (WITT network)
Eleonora Delova (Akcija Zdruzenska)
Milica Gudovic (Zene na delu, Belgrade)
Number of participants: 15 of the participants came from 12 women’s organizations focused on various issues such as the prevention of trafficking of women, SOS hotlines, and health projects. It is important to emphasize that these organizations are based throughout Macedonia and the criteria of geographical dispersion was met. Another important note concerns the huge interest of women’s organizations to participate in this training resulting in a selection procedure performed by Eleonora Delova. It also indicates the utmost importance of these trainings which will be discussed later in this report.
Methodology: lectures, presentations, practical hands-on work, working in small groups, brainstorming sessions, discussions
Key issues: Gender and ICT, Hardware, Software, Free Software Concept, Image editing, Internet, Browsers, E-mail, Mailing lists, Netiquette, CMS, SPIP, WITT
Background information: In 2004 Akcija Zdruzenska and Eleonora Delova the person in charge of the project became Focal Point of the WITT network. The two most important activities of FP include conducting a Needs Assessment (NA) to determine needs for developing educational programmes that strengthen women’s organizations with ICT knowledge and skills and organizing training based on those needs.
Result Summary of NA in Macedonia: Of the 52 women’s NGOs (WNGOs) 47 were from outside Skopje and five were from Skopje.
According to results from the conducted field survey, the following conclusions may be made:
WNGO members who have access to computers make only partial use of computers
In terms of technical equipment the majority of WNGOs do not have computers
Computer use is mostly related to word processing and information searches on the Internet. The organizations are insufficiently aware of the benefits of ICT. There is a serious need for developing educational programmes intended to advance ICT knowledge and skills of WNGOs
A portion of those interviewed who answered that they did not use computers nevertheless answered questions on the use of computer programmes and the Internet. These answers contradicted their initial answers regarding computer use. This indicates that ICT knowledge and skills are a requirement for anyone working in an NGO. Therefore, some interviewed who answered that they did not use computers then changed their answer because they felt embarrassed. This information strongly supports their view that ICT skills are important for the work of WNGOs.
Dial-up is the most frequent Internet access. The majority of WNGOs do not have computers available and it may be concluded that dial-up access is used at home.
The majority of women interviewed demonstrated partial knowledge on Internet use (e-mail and web pages).
The majority of sampled WNGOs do not have their own web pages. The majority of those that have a web page have used a professional designer.
In terms of knowledge they would like to gain on computer use, almost all interviewees chose almost all available options with the exception of computer hardware. This implies the need to develop ICT educational programmes for the WNGOs. They could use this knowledge for work in WNGOs as well as for personal advancement. They could also teach other WNGO members while increasing their self-confidence
Those interviewed expressed a strong desire and willingness to take part in the training and understood the need for such activity.
Based on the results of the NA we can conclude that there is a lack of knowledge and experience in using ICTs as a tool in the work of WNGOs. A training for 15 participants was designed based on the results of the NA. Participants were chosen based on several criteria:
• Geographical dispersion
• Poor level of knowledge in using ICTs
• Great need for this kind of knowledge
• Interest and personal motivation on the part of organizations and individuals to participate in this kind of training
The training took place in Ohrid at the Millennium Palace hotel, one of the rare places in Macedonia that offers facilities that can support this kind of training. At the hotel it was possible to have one computer per participant, a DSL internet connection as well as data projector, video and other equipment needed to conduct the training. It was also important for us to deliver a training in a relaxed and friendly environment where participants could rest, and spend time in the beautiful surroundings of Ohrid.
The training lasted for three days and included five sessions. The sessions included nine workshops, three presentations, two discussions and several relaxation games and ice breakers which increased energy levels during the training.
The agenda was created according to the participants skill level and they needed to be introduced to ICTs basic concepts.
All sessions were very interactive and participants had the opportunity to ask questions at any time. Realizing that the women might be shy and not ask questions we introduced the “mailing box” which was a flip chart paper where they could post questions. We then set aside time during the sessions to answer these questions. This was also a good opportunity for the group to ask any questions they might have forgotten.
Goals of the training:
1. To gain general knowledge in ICTs
2. To gain practical skills related to using ICTs as a strategic tool
3. To promote WITT
4. To generate a network made up of participating organizations
Day one - Friday, 8th of April 2005
The first day started with welcoming participants and introducing both trainers and participants. It was important for the group to meet and learn about the organizations people were from. Participants were informed of the training’s goals, agenda and methodologies. All participants were then asked to write down their expectations.
• To gain practical skills
• To improve communication capacities
• To share experiences
• To learn how to publish information on web sites
• To openly share information among the organizations
• To network with other organizations with the aim of creating mutual projects
• To learn how to make a web page
• To improve personal skills
• To improve knowledge about the Internet
• To meet colleagues and socialize
• To learn more on the WITT initiative
In certain aspects expectations did not correspond with the training’s goals, as in the case of creating web pages. These misunderstandings were clarified at the very beginning in order to all come to a common understanding.
The following is the presentation of the WITT network and its activities to provide background information and to introduce the group to WITT, as well as to promote local FP and their activities. This presentation was welcomed by activists attending the training and they showed a desire for such initiatives in their local communities.
Session: What is ICT?
This workshop had two aims the first was for trainers to gain insight into the participant’s understanding of what the term ICT meant. The second was to introduce ICT in the context of women’s activism.
Participants were asked to present all their thoughts related to the term ICT and the answers primarily included Internet and computer related technology.
Although ICT is a very broad term without precise definition, the one we decided to use since we believe it covers most of the key issues related to this topic is the following:
ICT is an umbrella term that includes any communication device or application, encompassing radio, television, cellular phones, computer and network hardware and software, satellite systems and so on, as well as the various services and applications associated with them such as videoconferencing and distance learning. ICTs are often spoken of in a particular context, such as ICT in education, health care or activism, which is our primary focus.
The following was a discussion on the position of women in ICTs and after a brainstorming session, participants concluded that ICTs could be a very powerful tool used in their work. They also identified several problems women face in using new technologies:
Women do not have equal access to education and therefore are not encouraged to enter technology related fields. In Macedonia as well as in many other countries technology is still male dominated.
In Macedonia the communication structure is a big problem for users since it is very expensive and not accessible. Another problem related to this is extremely poor infrastructure in certain parts of Macedonia.
Women have to be encouraged to enter the field of ICTs and it is necessary to organize either training programs or training centers that welcome and accommodate women.
Women often do not have enough time to use Internet due to their various obligations at home and at work and even when families do have computers women are the last to use them.
Women need to have access to financial means so they can support themselves and start ICT related businesses.
Women’s organizations need to have increased knowledge regarding ICTs so they can be used for networking and in other ways.
Women’s and other human rights organizations have to be aware of both the limits and benefits of ICT regulations so they can influence legislation relating to the digital rights of citizens.
At the end of the discussion Eleonora Delova presented her work with E-citizens who are a governmental body responsible for creating a National Strategy on the use of ICTs. She expressed the need for all women’s organizations to take part in this process. This participation would ensure that women’s needs are properly represented within this document.
The handout for this session was Women and computers which is a text written about women scientists who took part in developing computer technology.
Session: Gender aspects of ICTs, NA researches in Macedonia and Bulgaria present a overview on situations in other countries in the region.
The natural continuation of the previous workshop was talking about gender issues within ICTs with an emphasis on local context.
Eleonora Delova presented the results of NA research in Macedonia, which was important because most of the participants of the training were those interviewed. She also presented the results of NA research conducted in Bulgaria which lead to a surface comparative analysis showing that in Bulgaria situations are slightly better when it comes to women’s organizations using ICTs.
Trainers then presented the results of the wider research conducted by the CePIT organization from Belgrade. This information was not focused on women, but on Internet users in Serbia. Unfortunately, there is still a lack of research paying attention to women’s organizations as users of ICTs so we could not provide any statistical data. However, we were able to provide examples of communications and actions organized with the help of tools like Internet or mailing lists.
As a handout participants were given a text by Joelle Palmieri called Free concept: the future of gender and Women and New Technologies by Nancy Hafkin and Nancy Taggert.
Session: Hardware and software
The aim of this session was to present on a very basic level how computers function and to demystify the procedure of opening the computer and checking it inside. Trainers opened one computer and showed all crucial parts, explained how they worked and what their main functions were. During this presentation it was obvious that very few participants dared to open the computer on their own. The group had greater knowledge on the way the computer operates. It was expressed that the group would never dare to touch or open the machine and that they usually depended on somebody else when their machines did not work so it was empowering for them to learn this information for the first time.
Other parts of this session were dedicated to explaining software concepts such as what is a operating system, what are applications, and how they work together etc.
Participants were provided with information on these topics. Trainers translated the manual of Gender Changer Academy which was used on many occasions for their hardware workshops. They also prepared a glossary of the most important terms which were explained during the workshop.
Though this session lasted only one hour, participants were really satisfied with the presented information, taking into consideration that for most of them this was the first time they had the opportunity to learn the basics of hardware and software.
Session: What is Internet?
Topics covered in this session were:
• Internet history
• Internet services (www, e-mail, FTP, IRC, newsgroups)
• What is a IP address?
• Protocols: HTTP, FTP, SMTP, POP3, IMAP4, SNMP, TELNET
• Domains: how computer reads domain names and what is the systematization of domains
This session was very educational and it provided all basic information necessary for understanding the concepts of the Internet and the way it functions. Participants were asked various questions during the workshop and they considered this session very important for further improving their use of the Internet.
Handouts: How the Internet came about
Session: Free Software concept
The introduction to this session was a short movie made by the Greece Video Collective from Athens about the Eclectic Tech Carnival in Belgrade organized by Gender Changers and Zene na delu. This carnival promotes Free Software concepts and all workshops are conducted using FS operating systems such as Linux and FS applications.
Topics covered on this session:
• History of the Free Software movement
• Four freedoms
• Concept of licensing and presentation of General Public License used as an example
• Copyright/left as a political issue
• Presentation of Macedonian initiatives on FS and resource web site
After the presentation a short discussion followed on why FS is important for women and how it corresponds with our politics.
Handouts: Free Software History, Free Software Licenses
Session: Image Editing
Before coming to the training participants were asked to bring several photos that would be used during an exercise on image editing. In two hours, participants obtained basic skills for working in image editor including an explanation of basic terms (pixels, dpi etc), formats of images, colour modes, and tools.
Participants had the opportunity to practice and edit their own images. Due to time limitations we were only able to explain some basic operations such as resizing images, using the crop tool and optimizing for the web. The final part of the workshop was preparing photos for publishing on the WITT web site.
The initial idea of the trainers was to use GIMP and FS image editor, but due to various problems we had to work with Photoshop. Participants were encouraged to explore GIMP and were given instructions on where to find useful information on GIMP.
Day 2 - Saturday, 9th of April 2005
Session: Searching Information on the Internet
This workshop had two components: presentation on browsers (applications) and presenting useful tips for searching on the Internet.
Most participants used Microsoft IE for browsing the Internet and trainers introduced FS application Mozilla Firefox as a good and reliable alternative. In the fist part of workshop participants learned how to download and install Firefox and how to use it.
The second part of the workshop was dedicated to useful tips on how to search the Internet and this was accompanied by an explanation on web browsers (Google, Yahoo etc.) and the way they function. For practice the group searched for information that could be useful to participants.
Handouts: Searching tips and browsers
Session: E-mail, mailing lists, netiquette
The session on e-mail was one of the most important during this training. Trainers realized that most of the participant’s organizations:
• have only web based mails (for example @yahoo.com or @hotmail.com)
• do not download messages locally
• do not keep records on their e-mail correspondences
• are not using e-mail applications
• are not familiar with the concept of mailing lists.
This session had to be changed so it could correspond with the needs of participants and their organizations. Trainers had to introduce e-mail applications and explain how they function. The group then conducted comparisons between Mozilla Thunderbird and Microsoft Outlook Express.
Part of the session was a discussion about Macedonian ISPs and the services they provide and what information participants need to know when approaching local ISPs.
The session also included a discussion on netiquette and rules of communication via e-mail.
Participants were introduced to the concept of mailing lists and how they are used by women’s organizations in Serbia and Croatia. This was one of the topics that was most interesting to them as they realized benefits and possibilities of such communication.
This session lasted longer than planned due to the importance of explaining important issues such as using e-mail in the work of an organization.
Handouts: FTP instructions, ICQ instructions
The whole afternoon of second day was dedicated to SPIP. In the first part trainers presented the WITT web site and explained how it was created.
The introduction to SPIP was an explanation on what a Content Management System is and how it functions.
Participants learned to use SPIP and also how to publish articles on the WITT web site. They were asked to bring articles prepared in advance for this purpose and most of the articles related to the work of organizations. Although the work was demanding participants enjoyed working in SPIP and seeing their articles on the WITT web site.
For the purpose of this training WITT web site administrators have created a special section where participants can publish their articles and the Macedonian section of the WITT web site was announced. Many of the organizations did not have their own web sites and those that did are not updating information regularly. Some of the organizations depend on professional services in order to change a minor aspect of their web site and participants were quite enthusiastic about the possibility of publishing information on the WITT web site. There are additional benefits in the WITT web site being a joint place for women’s organizations and this was recognized and appreciated by participants.
Day 3 - Sunday, 10th of April 2005
Session: “Mail box”
As we have previously mentioned, trainers introduced “mail box” a flip chart paper where participants could post their questions in case they were shy, forgot something or needed additional information on a certain topic. There were several questions posted:
• How to create a mailing list
• More information on mailing lists
• Color modes in image editing
Trainers tried to give answers to all questions and most of the time was spent on explaining mailing lists. Participants were shown how to create a mailing list on Yahoo groups and it was also shown how it looks to operate a mailing list in Mailman.
Session: SPIP - publishing images
This session was a follow-up from the previous day where participants had an opportunity to repeat procedures for publishing articles and learn how to publish images.
Session: How can I apply gained knowledge?
The closing session included small groups focused on the question
how can I apply gained knowledge? Participants were divided into three groups and asked to come up with concrete changes that could be made within their organizations after the training. The outcomes of this session were outstanding.
Results of the work in the three groups were almost identical. Every group determined three steps they could take:
* Within the organization:
To share gained knowledge with other members of the organization
To establish procedures for the continuation of education in ICTs
To motivate other members to learn how to use computer technology properly
* Locally in Macedonia:
To establish a mailing list of women’s organizations to be used for better cooperation and coordination of activities of WNGOs
To use a mailing list to mobilize organizations around concrete actions
To use a mailing list to exchange information
To use the WITT web site and publish information about their work
To use ICTs to network with other women’s organizations both in the region and ouside of the region
In the last session participants were asked to fill in evaluation questionnaires and we discussed whether their expectations were fulfilled. The discussion showed a high level of satisfaction regarding the training and there were repeated requests to have future trainings like this one.
List of participants :
l. Marijana Velickovska
NGO Women Center – Gostivar
2. Zaklina Stojanovska
HO Majka – Kumanovo
3. Daniela Cvetkova
NGO women organization- Skopje
4. Vilma Jovanova
NGO Sinergija - Stip
5. Vesna Petkova
NGO Prodolzen Zivot – Strumica
6. Afrodita Trajkova
NGO Women Organization- Valandovo
7. Aleksandra Atanasovska
NGO La Strada - Macedonia
8. Radmila Sandeva
NGO Women Organization- Sveti Nikole
9. Vanja Karanikolova
NGO Sezam – Gevgelija
10. Biljana Gjogjievska
NGO Prestiz - Bitola
11. Zaklina Servini
NGO Clea - Bitola
12. Arbresa Budzaku
NGO Women Center- Debar
13. Sonja Topalovska
NGO Women Center- Debar
14. Aleksandra Georgievska
NGO Women Organization – Pehcevo
15. Ana Gjuroska
WITT - Macedonia