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The history of all times, and of today especially, teaches that ... women will be forgotten if they forget to think about themselves.
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Invitation: Women and ICTs at the European Feminist Forum
Christina Haralanova | 20 September 2007

Since the end of last year a process has started to prepare the first European Feminist Forum (EFF), planned for 13-15 June 2008. The EFF secretariat had called last year to start ’Affinity Groups’ on different subjects to prepare the Forum, and so a group was started focussing on women and tech, ICT, New Media - called ’agitate’ (Affinity Group InformaTion And new TEchnologies). We are now looking for and inviting more women and women’s groups to join us in this process. The general aim of the group is to increase visibility of women in IT, with a focus on FLOSS (Free/Libre/Open Source Software) and new media.

Our affinity group will discuss, analyse, raise awareness and get active around issues of women and new media and information and communication technologies (ICTs). The percentage of women who are actively interested in these issues is extremely small, due to different reasons. The roots can be found in education, gender roles, homogeneous and exclusive male structures in existing gender-mixed groups and networks (most of them in fact not mixed but instead almost all-male).

We want to build a stronger network to

- give visibility to our actions,
- carry on the debate about why it seems to be just ’natural’ that women and computers don’t go together well and what the real reasons are,
- develop more activities with a clear feminist focus (for example: Take back the tech,
- share experiences and empower each other and others
- help make access to new media easier for feminist activists
- interrogate and address the ways in which both gender and race are factors that prevent people from having full and equal access to virtual and tech spaces

Members of the envisioned group are so far active with different aspects that can be found in the thematic triangle of ICTs, media and information: organising courses for women to get a better understanding of computers, running a radio, independent media websites, involvement in the ’FLOSS’ community, research and analysis of why women are so little present in those forms of political activism that focus on new media/ICTs, but also the representation of women in the media in general.

Another focus will be to cross borders, as many existing groups are not or little known outside the region where they are active, and to strengthen networks, especially across East-West borders.

By sharing experiences with women from other continents we’ll analyse, research and understand more the convergences and paradigms that women face in different situations and countries and also the strategies for standing up to sexism’s.

Last but not least a certain reluctance of feminist groups and networks towards new technologies is quite visible, and we would like to use this chance to reach out to women who would like to find out more but don’t know who to ask. Empowerment of women is always a vital part of women’s groups busy with technology and we will have a lot to share with you all during the EFF.

What’s next?

So far, we have so far done the obvious: started a mailing list, a wiki, and got used to the EFF website.

What we would like to do next is: make active use of the EFF online forum, but also organise a real life meeting sometime after the summer, to talk about plans for next year’s EFF meeting in Warsaw.

If you are interested, please get in touch:

Contact and info

- send an email to eff[at]systerserver.net,
- join us in irc: irc.indymedia.org #eff (for help with irc chat: http://docs.indymedia.org/view/Sysadmin/IrcHowTo)
- contribute to the forum
- find more about us here.

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