Women, Democracy and Change on the Internet

By Patricia Daniel.

Published by Journal of the World Universities Forum

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

More than 10 years after the UN’s Beijing Conference on Equality, Peace and Development, few countries have achieved 30% of women in decision-making positions and almost none can boast a 50.50 government. Marginalized in the global economy, women still comprise a majority of the world’s poor and the world’s illiterates, bearing the brunt of the effects of conflict, climate change and the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Analyses of the mainstream media indicate a similar process of marginalisation as regards numbers of women in the profession, percentage of media coverage about women and the lack of a feminist perspective on global problems. However, recent surveys on internet use, in particular the practice of blogging, have found a new generation of women and women’s organisations taking full advantage of the medium - not only in the so-called developed countries but across all continents, as access to technology increases. Drawing on the 50.50 projects run by the current affairs website openDemocracy.net during 2007, this article will analyse the use of women’s blogs for (1) widening democratic participation: providing a space for marginalized voices, enabling women to raise their own voice or to convey other women’s voices; (2) carrying out primary research: for example, through live blogging of women’s events or collecting evidence from the global community; and (3) facilitating social activism: changing the world through networking knowledge, sharing experience, cyber-campaigning and virtual advocacy. The article will highlight what has been learned from using the medium, including the ongoing challenges, and provide hyperlinks to practical examples.

Keywords: Gender Equality, Democracy, Technologies, Knowledge Systems, Global Community, Human Rights, Objectivity and Perspectivism

Journal of the World Universities Forum, Volume 1, Issue 6, pp.23-32. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.124MB).

Patricia Daniel

Senior Lecturer in Social Development, Centre for International Development and Training, University of Wolverhampton, Telford, Shropshire, UK

I have a background in language, education and gender studies, but my current employment has a much wider remit. I work both in the UK and overseas at different levels: community development and civil society; supporting national social programmes; evaluating the aid effectiveness of international organisations. Recently I have carried out research on gender, peace and democracy in Mali, which led to my becoming a contributor to openDemocracy.net as a different medium for disseminating my ideas. I have been involved in their 50.50 projects, blogging the World Social Forum from a woman’s perspective and leading the ‘Women talk to the G8’ project. I also contribute to the University of Wales Bangor MA in Writing.

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