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My Impressions from the AWID Forum 2005
Christina Haralanova | 8 November 2005

AWID Forum, Bangkok, 27 – 30 October, has just passed, an amazing international event focused on women’s rights and development. A meeting point for over 1800 feminists from 120 countries, both an adventure and a chance for all who participated. It was so colorful and natural in the way the Forum has passed, both long and short, different and the same. This event has proved to me one more time, that meeting face to face makes so much sense, since the magic in people’s eyes is impossible to be noticed via the online communication.

Being one of the 6 Bulgarian women who took part in the Forum, I could feel the importance of this participation. I had the possibility to present the activities we are doing in Bulgaria and Eastern Europe, in a session, called: “What feminist activism and research in CEE/CIS can teach the world”. My presentation was focused mainly on the use of information and communication technologies by local women and the way these have helped them to produce a change in their lives and struggles.

I explained the aims and mission of WITT as a network for women’s organizations and IRBF as its focal point for Bulgaria. The results from the needs assessment research that we made, as part of WITT in Bulgaria, attracted participants’ interest and I stressed my presentation on 3 main changes, which ICTs bring to women:

- the change it makes to women personally, as individual development,
- the change for the women’s organizations when using the ICTs as a tool for more effective activities and communication. And
- the third change, related to the possibilities that ICTs bring when uniting women into movements, by joining their efforts and learning from each other. This makes them stronger and united, and inspires them to continue their struggles.

AWID Forum was about meeting and inspiration. It was amazing how many different people could talk to each other, known and unknown. I learned about their local and international activities, sharing ideas and experience. I heard people who I know for a long time, to speak and teach me things I did not know, and I also heard ones, which I never met before, but who did things the same as me in my own country.

But AWID Forum was also about contradictions. Held in Bangkok, the city of the perfect contrasts of rich and very poor, of peaceful inhabitants, and aggressive tourists, being both particular and totally globalized, a place of beautiful temples and terrible street traffic. Sitting in the air conditioned rooms of one of the biggest hotels around we were discussing about poverty and world development, tolerance and understanding, while getting out in the streets, one crashes into another reality that never sees this tolerance, neither understanding.

It was a forum of hope, too, where you hear about things that have made a change somewhere around the world and that bring the feeling that this change can spread in order to reach as many people as possible. Because in the end of the day, it was all about change. It makes you rethink your values, evaluate your action and hope that the change we are talking about will happen one day. And let this day comes soon!

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