For regular bloggers and blog-readers, it’s probably no big revelation that new technologies are constantly emerging that allow people to communicate in a huge variety of ways. We text, we blog, we Twitter, we podcast, and that’s just barely the beginning. And many of these technologies have been clearly in evidence here at the AWID Forum. I have attended events and had conversations with women who use such tools to advance their work for human rights, and the range of ideas and creativity is breath-taking.
I attended one event that encouraged me to stretch the way we think about technology and women’s rights advocacy. When we launched this blog some two months ago, we understood that blogging is an important tool to communicate with a wide audience in a new way. But at this event, organized by the Association for Progressive Communications, the presenters challenged my understanding of the internet as a tool to promote change and to transform awareness of women’s rights. Instead, they exhorted us to consider that technology and communications itself is a space where advocacy for women’s human rights is needed.
So a few questions have lingered in my mind since the session closed: who is behind the scenes deciding the standards that we take for granted? The space afforded by internet, even as it remains a powerful tool for feminists, is not a neutral space without political impacts. Margarita Salas, with the Costa Rican organization Sula Batsu, clearly demonstrated this fact when she showed us the Google search results that pop up when you search for the terms “women Costa Rica.” For anyone with access to the internet, sites like Google and Wikipedia are a first stop in any search for an answer to a question, but what kinds of answers do we find on the internet?