Posted 18 December 2007

In this edition writers analyze some of the existing challenges and experiences about the problematic issue of women´s health and its interconnection with ICT policies in Uruguay, West Africa, Uganda and assess integration of ICTs into health initiatives around the world.

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GENDER CENTRED: A thematic bulletin

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Women's Health & ICT Policies

I. SMALL THOUGHTS AROUND…Women's Health & ICT Policies







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I. SMALL THOUGHTS AROUND…Women's Health & ICT Policies

by Flavia Fascendini

The current edition of approaches the problematic issue of

women´s health and its interconnection with information and

communication technologies (ICTs) policies. Health is understood as a

positive concept that emphasises our physical capacities as well our

personal and social resources. And here, as in other aspects of human

life, obtaining gender equity in health is a goal because deep

inequities exist in the levels of physical, psychological and emotional

well-being, which in turn, are further affected by a myriad of

conditions such as disparate socioeconomic levels, ethnicity, age,

geographic region and sexual orientation.

In all this, ICTs have an enormous strategic potential to locate women

at the centre of health initiatives. There are many examples of ICTs’

transformative potential on gender relations and roles, such as

health clinics equipped with information technologies in low-income

communities offer women information on available services.

On the other hand, new reproductive and genetic technologies such as

sex-selection or human cloning, are used to manipulate fertility or

reproductive practices and, in this way, ensure the continuation of

gender inequality and discrimination.

Thereby policy interventions must plan and evaluate the gendered impact

of new technologies applied in the health sector, as well as support

community actions to extend the access of women to health services.

In an attempt to contribute to this discussion, in this edition writers analyze some of the existing challenges and

experiences about this subject in Uruguay, West Africa, Uganda and a

summary overview around integration of ICTs into health initiatives

around the world.

Read the full version of this editorial in the Feminist Talk section:

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Birthing choices and challenges:Understanding the new reproductive


by Mavic Cabrera-Balleza

Kim Surkan is a gender studies professor. She recently gave birth to her

son who was conceived through in-vitro fertilization.

writer, Mavic Cabrera-Balleza speaks with Kim about some controversies

surrounding the use of new reproductive technologies and genetic

selection. They also discuss the role of the information and

communication technologies in new reproductive practices manipulated by

technologies and genetics.

The fight against female circumcision in West Africa transposed on the


by Sylvie Niombo, APC-Africa-Women Co-Coordinator

The author examines a role of information and communication technologies

in the fight against female circumcision, a harmful practice carried out

on over a hundred million girls and women in West African countries. She

explores 'shadow areas' through a closer look at thus launched a

research programme “Contribution of information and communications

technologies (ICTs) towards the discontinuation of female genital

mutilation in Francophone Africa: civic role of the youth” by Enda Third

World of Senegal, a member organisation of the Association for

Progressive Communications network.

Demanding our reproductive rights on the web: A Uruguayan experience

by Cecilia Gordano

When it was reported in mid-May 2007 that a Uruguayan woman was being

put on trial for having an abortion, many people paid little notice.

After all, abortion has been classified as a crime in the country’s

criminal code since 1938. Others, however, were outraged by the news and

turned to information and communication technologies (ICTs) as a tool

for organising, protesting, and putting the contradictions of a legal

and sociocultural system that systematically violates women’s

reproductive rights back on the political agenda.

Integration of ICTs in the Health System: Basic Services and Risks to


by Natalia Fernandez-Diaz

How can a health care system respond to the gender-specificities in

terms of providing accurate and timely information & services? And in

what way can ICTs augment or challenge this effort? Natalia Fernandez

presents a summary overview of various approaches by governments in

different regions in adopting ICTs in health care, and highlights the

potential risks to privacy that they can potentially create.

ICTs and health in Uganda: benefits, challenges and contradictions

by Patricia K. Litho

Information & communications technologies (ICTs) have been continually

viewed as having the potential to address several challenges in Africa

including in the health sector, and has been implemented at least since

the 1970s through the 'telemedicine' concept. By looking at the

"Satellife" Personal Digital Assistant Project implemented by the

government of Uganda, Patricia Litho surfaces the potentials and

challenges at stake in adopting ICTs for health in the region.

Visit the collection of a wide variety of other resources and articles

related to this issue on the health section:

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THE WORLD WIDE WEB OF DESIRE: Content Regulation on the Internet

'Illegal' and 'harmful' content debates continue to be dominated by the

issue of child pornography. While this perspective is important, its

dominance overshadows other important aspects, that directly impact on

women's lives and rights. This paper by Namita Malhotra brings in

feminist perspective, which provides varied understandings of 'harmful

content', as well as opens the question of adequate representation of

all voices in the content regulations discussions.

HIV/AIDS and Information and Communication Technologies

The purpose of this review is to look at the role of ICTs in addressing

the challenge of HIV / AIDS. The report provides an overview of

HIV/AIDS, the ways ICTs are being used to address the pandemic, and some

preliminary information on the views of those working in developing


Gender perspectives on health and safety in information processing

This study looks at the specific health hazards which have been

attributed to work with computers, and more specifically to the work

situation of inputting or manipulating text or data. In particular, it

examines RSI-repetitive strain injuries, which can lead to a total

inability to carry out many tasks.

Visit the collection of a wide variety of other resources concerning

issue of women's health & ICT policies in the resources archive:

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This term refers to the application of electronic information and

communication technologies in the health sector in order to meet needs

of patients, healthcare professionals, healthcare providers, as well as

policy makers. An examples of the use of ICTs in the health area

includes health information networks among citizens and patients on

various medical topics, electronic health records enabling easy sharing

of patient data between different healthcare professionals, telemedicine

services allowing a patient to access appropriate treatment without need

to travel to a specialist, monitoring systems such as epidemiological

tracking, or health portals facilitating dissemination of information to

citizens and to healthcare professionals. Some points that e-health is

only another 'buzzword' used to describe “virtually everything related

to computers and medicine”. Others highlights that 'e' in e-health

stands not only for electronic but also other opportunities and

challenges brought by ICTs to healthcare, such as equality, extension,

ethics or empowerment.

To understand unfamiliar ICT or gender terms visit the Jargon section:

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Health & Development Networks

HDN is a non-profit organization that works to improve communication,

expand discourses and promote self-representation in the HIV/AIDS and

related health fields on international, regional and national levels.

They are currently active in three regions - Africa, Asia-Pacific, and

Europe. Among others, they also seek to target countries that are often

overlooked, such as those with poor internet connectivity.By

facilitating global networking, HDN wants to ensure that civil society

perspectives, priority issues and needs are heard and continually

promoted around important emerging issues, trends and events concerning


To find out more about key stakeholders in the field of ICTs, visit the

Who's Who in Policy section:

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Sexuality, Identity and Digital Spaces

by Mavic Cabrera-Balleza

The panel discussion was chaired by Avri Doria, Adjunct Professor, Luleå

University of Technology (Sweden). There were 2 panelists namely, Namita

Malhotra, a legal researcher at the Alternative Law Forum in India and

Cecilia Sardenberg, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology of

the Federal University of the Bahia, Director of NIEM, Brazil. Namita’s

presentation was fascinating. She spoke about the history of

pornography, the laws around pornography ...

To act now or not act:Clash of views on content regulation at internet


by Frédéric Dubois

Today I sat in a workshop in Rio de Janeiro. A workshop in Rio de

Janeiro? A capoeira, volleyball or football workshop, you must be

thinking. Even though I’m just 25 metres away from a beautiful beach,

imagine, I sat in a room in a hotel, full of people with laptops… on

their laps. Such is life in the second Internet Governance Forum. And

let me tell you that it’s worth it. One of the 97 workshops unfolding

here in Rio was called “Content regulation and the duty of states to

protect fundamental rights”, brought to you by the APC’s women’s

programme, the APC WNSP for all of you acronym-lovers.

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CopyLeft. 2007 APC Women's Networking Support Programme (APC WNSP)

Permission is granted to use this document for personal use, for

training and educational publications, and activities by peace,

environmental, human rights or development organisations. Please provide

an acknowledgement to APC WNSP.

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