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FemTech 2.0: The intersection of feminist activism and technology

November 16, 2010

I’m excited to be hosting a roundtable presentation at this year’s African Studies Association Conference.  The panel reflects  my growing techie interests with the theme below:

FemTech 2.0: The intersection of feminist activism and technology

Reflecting this year’s conference’s proximity to Silicon Valley, this roundtable explores the
opportunities and challenges presented by the unavoidable nexus of
communication technology and feminist organizing.

On one hand communication technologies offer unparalleled
opportunities for  feminist activists to connect with each other and
with an ever-widening base of supporters.  Social networking tools
mean that activists working on similar issues in different regions can
connect with each other and share experiences and tactics.   SMS,
Facebook, Twitter and other tools also mean that activists can
mobilize and co-ordinate mass action more efficiently, and at a much
lower cost.

Still, a heavy reliance of technology for feminist activism can serve
to further exacerbate the class disparities reflected by the gaps in
access to this technology.  Further, questions emerge on whether
technology can and should replace the personal connections that have
become a hallmark of feminist organizing.

The Roundtable will include presentations by Muadi Mukenge of the Global Fund for women

Kathleen Fallon will be discussing the role of ICTs in relation to the women’s movement in Ghana.  Specifically, although everyone acknowledges that ICTs are very important, those in Northern Ghana (where resources are more limited) have a much more difficult time accessing ICTs.  This leads to the women’s movement being biased toward issues focused in Southern Ghana, as well as resources being redistributed to Southern Ghana, rather than Northern Ghana.  Access to ICTs, therefore, reinforce existing inequalities.

An Associate Professor at McGill University,  Professor Fallon’s interests lie within political sociology, international development, and gender studies. Specifically, she focuses on women’s social movements, women’s political rights, and democracy within sub-Saharan Africa, as well as other developing countries. She has done in-depth field research within Ghana, examining how democratization influenced both women’s rights and the emergence of the women’s movement. Additionally, through comparative analyses and using both qualitative and quantitative methods, she has explored how types of democratic transitions influence women’s political representation.

Melissa Tully, a PhD candidate (ABD) in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison will focus on a Kenyan initiative called AkiraChix. The AkiraChix are a group of women in technology whose broad purpose is to empower women, particularly women in the tech community or who want to enter the tech space for social good.  A PhD candidate (ABD) in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madiso, she’s interested in how communications technologies are used (or not or failed to be used) in the pursuit of social justice.

The panel will go from 8-10 am(!) on Friday November 19th and I can’t wait to share my experiences running an international African women’s leadership incubator (empowering brilliant young women from underprivileged backgrounds), as well as my journey on the Clitoraid campaign!

One Comment leave one →
  1. November 16, 2010 11:17 PM

    Hello Wanjiru

    I am looking forward to hearing the outcomes of this discussion.


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