The 52nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) kicked off with a long line of women queuing for their official registration in front of the UN headquarters in New York. Over 5000 individuals took part in the CSW this year between 25 February and 7 March. This is one of the largest participation in the history of CSW, and illustrates importance of this year theme to women’s movements everywhere: “Financing for gender equality and the empowerment of women”.

As I observed women from Africa, Latin America and other parts of the world shivering in their coats while lining outside in a sunny but chilly New York's morning, I couldn’t help but agree with the voiced thought of a someone queuing close by; it would be really interesting to do a gender analysis of waiting lines. who queues, for what and how long?

In many parts of the world, women queue for much longer than men for their rights, such as education, land rights or access to ICTs. 'The Second Fundher Report: Financial Sustainability for Women's Movement's Worldwide' published in 2007 by the Association for Women's Rights in Development (AWID) also documents that  women's movement may need to “wait in line” for finance resources for a longer time with lower effect than civil society groups engaged within other sectors. The report states that funding for women's organisations has shrunk in last couple of years. To demonstrate, 729 women's rights organisations worldwide had the collective income of USD 79 millions in 2005, less than 80% of yearly budget of Amnesty International.

As a contribution to this debate, GenderIT team in partnership with AWID are surfacing the links between ICT policy and financing for women’s empowerment and gender equality in this edition of the Gender Centred Bulletin. Some of the questions we ask in this edition are: What are the implications of government budget allocations for ICT in women's lives? To what extent are national ICT policies' commitments to gender equality translated to actual budgets? Who are the main donors for the work on gender and ICT, and what activities are/are not being supported? What are the current financing trends and challenges in the ICT for development sector?  What are effective financing mechanisms to progress gender equality policies in the information society?  How could gender and ICT advocates strategically position themselves to mobilise for more resources for gender equality and women's rights in this area?

A number of gender and ICT experts we approached in this edition agreed that timely, transparent, and open information and knowledge are critical to facilitate women's access to funding. At the same time, they underline that as in other areas of ICT sector, funding for gender and ICT initiatives is affected by the common belief that technology is gender neutral.  To move beyond this concept, three strategies were recommended:

First, there is need to document evidence and share the stories and experiences of various gender and ICT initiatives. Second, donors and developing agancies need to adopt forward-looking approaches to funding, and invest in what may be new areas of discrimination, such as access to ICT. Third, women’s rights advocates need to acknowledge information and communication rights as important aspects of women's rights and development, and to build the knowledge of donors, policy makers and general public on gender issues in ICT.

We hope that you will find this edition of interesting, as writers examine existing challenges and experiences in the area of ICT policy and financing for gender equality and the empowerment. We also bring you a detailed report from the “Communication Rights for Women -  Why the purse feels empty? Financing for women's equitable access to Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs)“ panel  organised by the APC  Women's Networking Support Programme, the UN Division for the Advancement of Women and the International Women' s Tribune Centre  at the the 52nd session of CSW held in New York.

New articles:

Report on panel “Communication Rights for Women - Why the Purse feels empty? Financing for women's equitable access to Information and Communication Technologies”, organised by APC WNSP, UN DAW and IWTC during the 52nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women


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