It was an honor ummm…. no a privilege… no….more like a ‘oh they know I exist’ feeling when I was invited to be a part of the Virtual Platform to discuss Aid Effectiveness from a Gender Perspective by a subsidiary body UN -INSTRAW. Especially as it came on the heels of the live transmission on the dialogue on setting up the new UNWOMEN that I had watched being streamed live online. First the pluses, I actually felt like I was part of the dialogues and was engaged, of course it helps that it is in my area of research and practice interest! But the live transmission did play a role….the down side was that the only thing I could remember without going back to the event stream is that Gina Davis runs an institute that looks at media and gender and her research recounts how many times do women show up in a public scene…I think it was Gina and her research topic and the way she shared it that made her piece stay in my mind as an audience…while all the others appeared a little jaded with their own expertise and their continued and possibly exhausting involvement with issues of gender and their apparent weariness made it a little tiresome for the audience too… at least for me.
So amazing outreach was attained by UN_INSTRAW where these brilliant women from across the globe were sharing their opinions and expertise on the best way to make AID effective. But that was the niche of the audience and participants, how do you make something effective when you are only asking invested stakeholders and not the direct beneficiaries…101 Evaluation planning! A huge drawback of the internet outreach is that it is still very much an urban phenomenon and unfortunately, the biggest poverty and structural challenges remain rural, which also means that a large portion of women who should be part of the dialogues in a space not apparently ‘power-obvious’ are not ! How do you reach out to make them part of the dialogue. and I don’t mean the make faces in dough kind of participation action research….you know, where you visit the villages and draw up a chair and pull up threadbare carpets or sacks and make an unreal space which automatically is like Foucault’s panoptic space…but the one that the internet gives you…faceless, yet powerful voice that must be heard as much or as little as the next gal with a mouse and a key pad!
You need to give a key pad and a mouse and ability and access to using the internet and it is doable …have you seen the number of people that have cell phones? Do you know how many speak and write software exist…and can we have a data plan that is free if you are poor?