This edition reflects on the feminist politics and practices of technology within the broader debates around economic justice and women’s rights at the 12th AWID Forum that ran from April 19 to 22, 2012 in Istanbul, Turkey.'s writers and partners report on the opportunities presented by open internet for women’s organizing ranging from online mapping of street harassment, documenting video testimonies of women or producing powerful infographics. A number of the contributions spell out the challenges. "As we rely more and more on social media for our activism," writes one contributor, "knowing about security and privacy is really key." The authors also question the notion of 'free online services' and critique governments and private corporations for censorship, surveillance and monetization of our relationships, networks and communications for the purpose of profit. This edition is therefore also a call to connect and act. As Jan Moolman highlighted in her editorial: "unless women are at the table where decisions around governing the internet are made by governments and corporations,..., women will be on the menu."

To read more feminist talks and reflections on the 12th AWID Forum visit @ 12th AWID Forum 2012

Photo of the photo-art exhibit at the 12the AWID forum honoring and celebrating the lives and work of feminists by AWID. Used with permission.

Taking street harassment off the streets and off the map!

I walked in late to the jam-packed session “Bringing Gender to the Streets: Young Women Amidst the Arab Uprisings” at AWID Forum 2012. This was not a session about technology or the internet, but it was a common strand running through each presenters' activism and evidence-building for women's rights, even and perhaps especially in the midst of revolution.

Women's advocacy campaigns less effective when feminist?

Images of amazing infographics and heart-wrenching campaigns circled us in the recent "Using information design in advocacy for women's rights" workshop at AWID Forum 2012. Maya and Faith from Tactical Tech led us in a provocative session, where small groups focussed on just one of six questions about each "ad" or campaign image as they toured the room. Questions to tackle included: who did the team think the ad was geared at, what did they learn, what would they change about the ad, etc.

Who governs the internet

Who governs the internet? How are decisions made about this key infrastructure and system that seems to support such an overwhelming part of our everyday lives? And what are feminists and women's rights activists doing about it? Jac sm Kee scans through the history of the internet to leave us thinking about who governs that space that can have such an influencing impact on so many areas of our lives.

You walk away hopeful

A graceful tree glimmering with scarves and blue beads to ward off the evil eye greeted us every day during the 12th AWID Forum: Nazar Degemesin - “May the evil eye not touch her”. Every morning participants could share their message and hang the bead, scarf and satchel (and coin if they had one) for another participant to find at the end of the day.

Bargain basement shopping in the information society

When I saw this quote on Mozilla's new Collusion website: "If you're not paying for something, you're not the customer; you're the product being sold - Andrew Lewis." I felt it summed up the economics tool box session on Commodification of Knowledge that APC led at the 2012 AWID Forum quite nicely. The session, organised by APC, brought together speakers to spark debate and reflection, but the audience vibrated with insights and was full of feminists eager to deepen discussion on the commodification of knowledge.

Anonymity, accountability and the public sphere

I found myself being confronted with the issue of anonymity and accountability in different ways at the AWID Forum. At the Feminist Tech Exchange (FTX) and Connect Your Rights events that took place just before the Forum, we discussed about the different and increasingly sophisticated ways that internet technologies have been used to erode any sense of anonymity online.

Privacy and voice

I'm sure we've all seen amazing testimony videos of incredibly sensitive subjects: of women who choose to have abortion and share why despite risking imprisonment in their country for this act of taking control of their bodies; lesbians who come out fighting against "correctional rape"; rural women living in isolated regions sharing stories of cultural violence. I cringe and wonder - do they know, did they realize - we would see their testimony - way across the world, that anyone close or near could see it. Are they at risk because of this?

Have you ever spied on your ex on Facebook?

The question in the headline elicits a complicit smile. Have you ever? Or have you spied on their new partner? Or have you googled someone you just met and liked a lot? At the interactive session on “Privacy and pleasure” that was held as part of the 2012 AWID Forum there were a variety of participants, of diverse ages, that raised their hands, recognizing that both Facebook and Google are tools not just for finding friends, but also for watching and following the lives of the people who interest us, or that we should have stopped being interested in, but who are still in some corner of our hearts.

Some notes on ESCRIBANA and its creative way to harness the power-politics of communications

Flavia from based her feminist talk on Maria Suárez Toro's notes for the session "Harnessing the Power-Politics of Communications: A New Edge for Feminist Transformative Activism" that took place during the 12th AWID International Forum on Women’s Rights in Development. The session was organized by APC WNSP and took place on 12 April 2012 in Istanbul. María Suárez Toro, from the initiative ESCRIBANA, described the initiative's work developing feminist autonomous capacity to communicate feminist perspectives and women’s voices under the motto: “In the midst of destruction, open way for creativity”.

Going online is the same as going out to a rally

In early April 2012 in Istanbul thirty people from six continents met at the APC “Dialogue on digital security and women's human rights defenders” to discuss regional and global trends on digital security, freedom of expression and freedom of association, and their impact on women's human rights defenders. Katerina Fialova and Sonia Randhawa interviewed two of the participants to interrogate/ talk about/find out more about key digital security issues that women's human rights defenders face, and how human rights organisations can collaboratively address these threads.