Question: There are various technological tools available now – new cell phone technology, the Internet, etc. How can women make the best use of these different technologies? How do we ensure that women who have access to technology such as cell phones or the Internet or women who become members of iKNOW Politics share the knowledge they have with other women?
Answer: Women must get together and share their knowledge, whether it’s over work, or being with children, or just creating small groups to share various kinds of information and mutual support. In some villages, for instance, the woman who has access to the only cell phone around actually rents it out to people. The phone then becomes a new power tool. It is critical for this woman to share physical access to her cell phone, teach someone else to use it, or take information from it and do what women do very naturally — gather other women together to talk and share information.
As American women, however, we need to be careful not to superimpose our image of how to do things on women from other countries. But, information must be shared. A woman who gets power – either because she has a particular position in society or government or because she has a cell phone – can’t become a queen bee! Women must help other women. I have this saying that I use quite frequently, which is that there is a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other. A woman with power must understand that, in actuality, her role is to help others. For a woman who wants to be at the center of power, she must understand that her power is actually maximized by encouraging more women to participate in the system.
This exchange between former US Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and the new iKNOW website is an interesting assertion of the power of technology to empower women across the world.
Lest we forget, this is the same woman who in 1996 claimed that the deaths of half a million Iraqi children under the regime of “smart sanctions” by the then US administration was “…a very hard choice, but the price, we think, the price is worth it.”
Clearly, she not that much wiser today. Stressing the need for “objective information” later on in the interview, Ms. Albright seems blithely unaware that all information is subjective, from creation to consumption.
That said, her powerful voice in support of the iKNOW initiative will hopefully propel the active participation of women, oftentimes marginalised and under-represented in governance mechanisms, in part through the increased use of technologies such as the Internet and web. iKNOW also has a useful collection of material related to gender, women, governance and peacbeuilding here.
As noted here, iKNOW Politics the first virtual network linking women in politics throughout the world, was launched today at the United Nations in New York. Short for the International Knowledge Network of Women in Politics, iKNOW Politics is the first online space specifically designed to make governance work better for women and to advance the role and number of women in political and public life.
Anyone interested in iKNOW should also visit Women, War and Peace portal of UNIFEM and the Women Waging Peace Network and read Peace Work: Women, Armed Conflict and Negotiation, edited by Radhika Coomaraswamy and Dilrukshi Fonseka.