What is Take Back the Tech?
Take Back The Tech! is a collaborative campaign that takes place during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence (25 Nov – 10 Dec). It is a call to everyone – especially women and girls – to take control of technology to end violence against women.
This campaign is organised by the Association of Progressive Communications, Women’s Networking Support Programme (APC WNSP).
APC WNSP is a global network of more than 175 women in over 55 countries promoting gender equality in the design, implementation, access and use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) and in the policy decisions and frameworks that regulate them.
What is VAW?
VAW, or violence against women, means any act that results in harm and disproportionately affects women. The root cause of VAW lies in unequal power relations between men and women in almost all facets of life. Some examples of VAW include domestic violence, rape and sexual harassment.
The United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women defines VAW as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life”.
VAW was recognised as a violation of fundamental human rights in 1993, less than two decades ago, officially through the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women by the United Nations General Assembly. Women’s movements across the world are continuously bringing to light new dimensions and different forms of VAW.
What is ICTs?
ICTs, or information communication technologies, broadly means tools and platforms that we use for our communication and information needs. Some examples include radio, mobile telephones, television broadcasts, and the internet.
Sometimes ICTs are understood in “old” and “new” forms. Simply put, “older” forms of ICTs are where information is transmitted in analogue format like radio, and “newer” forms of ICTs are those transmitted in digital formats like wireless technology.
In reality, the distinctions are not absolute, and there are many kinds of ICTs that move from one to the other. The important point is that ICTs carry different meanings and value in different contexts, and impact upon societies significantly in different ways.
VAW & ICTs
Both ICTs and VAW affects our capacity to completely enjoy our human rights and fundamental freedoms. There is an increased recognition of the connection between VAW and ICTs. For example, the websites can be a useful place for women in violent relationships to get information and help. However, tools like spyware and GPS tracking devices have been used by abusers to track and control their partner’s mobility.
There are at least two ways to see how ICT impact power relations:
ICTs are able to transmit and disseminate norms through representations of “culture” and social structures and relations. Often also acting as media, images reinforce notions of “difference” between men and women by normalising stereotypes of gender roles as reality.
However, this dynamic is not straightforward or simple, as cultures are not homogeneous or static. The increased diversity of content producers on the internet also allows an array of representations that affect gender relations in complex ways. The strands of gender, sexual, cultural, and racial discourses communicated through ICTs must be unravelled to assess their role in affecting culture and norms.
The speed, vastness and relative ease of use, especially of “new” ICTs reduce distance and time between people. This can have a great influence on social relations. ICTs can allow survivors of VAW to seek information and assistance, but can also endanger survivors if utilised without an understanding of their dimensions. Local strategies by organisations can be compromised by ICTs through issues of privacy, misrepresentation and misunderstanding.
On the other hand, organisations have utilised the capabilities of ICTs to network across great distances and mobilise immediate action on urgent situations of VAW. By examining how ICTs have been employed, women’s movements can shape stronger connections with greater understanding of their potential and limitations.
More information and examples on how VAW & ICTs are interconnected, including example of case studies, can be read through APC WNSP’s research papers here.
TakeBackTheTech Campaign featured on Global Voices
She focused on the importance of such a campaign in Central America, highlighting some of the female bloggers who focus on technology:
“This is one of the many initiatives across the globe that are encouraging women not to be afraid of technologies and through education [es] on how to use it to improve their lives. Today more than ever, it is important for women and girls to use technologies to improve their lives, especially in Central America.”
With the millions of blogs out there, how can you choose which blogs to read, what if you want to read about what’s happening in other countries.. that will most probably not be written in your language too? You can search and translate,. or you can try something like Global Voices.
Global Voices is what is called a Bridge Blog, building small bridges across language and culture barriers, where you can peek at what other people are concerned with and struggling against right now.
“Global Voices aggregates, curates, and amplifies the global conversation online – shining light on places and people other media often ignore.”
They are covering many countries in different lauguages, by volunteer authors. Check their website and see whether your blogosphere is represented.
CREATE AND BE A PART OF TAKE BACK THE TECH!
Build the campaign with your thoughts, ideas, words and imagination. Create and share digital postcards. Find out more about the reality of violence against women by watching digital stories. Blog with us. Upload and share video and audio clips. Create your own Take Back The Tech! campaign.