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Internet and democratic change – Net activism, empowerment and emancipation – Sida conference

Wed, Oct 12, 2011

Press

“New media” has overtaken the international pages of daily newspapers. Twitter is now a portal not only to the latest from publications in Iran, Afghanistan, Palestine, Libya, and Brazil – it is the opening to the latest from NGOs, activists, financial institutions, and other actors. Rather than waiting for hours for a US publication to confirm a report, an active participant in new media can navigate a route picking up events (and interpretations of events) almost as they happen.

In short, the “gatekeepers” — both in politics and in the media — have been brought down.

Mahnaz Afkhami will speak on Virtual Activism, Real Change: Women & Democratic Transition in the Middle East at the Sida Conference.

Recent events in the Middle East/North Africa region have demonstrated how the use of technology has impacted every aspect of life and has become a driver of change across the world. Dissidents have used texting to mobilize demonstrations. Citizen journalists have documented events and sent images and news items abroad to mobilize international public opinion. Twitter has been used to send alerts on street harassment of women and location of shelters for victims of violence.

Learning portals and special web sites have been created to provide a space where young men and women can discuss democratic processes and best practices. Among the other questions, we need to consider how do we further empower women in the Global South to make more expanded use of technology to gain knowledge, experience, and to develop networks of solidarity and how to eliminate the gender gap in the use of technology in the Global South.

About Mahnaz Afkhami

A lifetime advocate for the rights of women, Mahnaz Afkhami works with activists across the world, especially in Muslim majority societies, to help women become leaders. She is Founder and President of Women’s Learning Partnership for Rights, Development, and Peace (WLP), Executive Director of Foundation for Iranian Studies...more