Filtered by the state, inspired by Gita Sen

Filtered by the state, inspired by Gita Sen

Originally published on, Feminist Talks

The convention center is big, enormous, 2500 women from all over the world to attend the 12th AWID International Forum on Women’s Rights in Development. It’s my first AWID, usually I avoid these overwhelming conventions but this time I couldn’t say no. Erika from APC contacted me and proposed to apply for the session on the internet and the challenge of privacy. The proposal has been accepted and I am here. And the internet, its relevance as a feminist issue is something I advocate.

Today Gita Sen said “we are in a fierce vicious unequal new economic world where battlegrounds are many” and a few hours later in the session on “Commodification of knowledge: how increasing access and availability of the internet had transformed the way knowledge is produced and shared” a participant made us notice that “We were being watched”. And it’s true behind the gorgeous beauty of Istanbul there is a state that filters access to the net, a state that does not allow sites to be displayed if they use “certain” words or images.

And yes, I know that women have many issues, many fights but the internet is not less relevant. It is true, still the majority of the world is excluded from the information society, but those are the same women that suffer poverty and as Gita Sen said the “problem isn’t that women are marginalized from the global economy but that they are included at the bottom”.

Our communication, our knowledge, our strategies and our dreams travel in a digitalized form through the web, via emails or mobiles. We cannot dismiss this! Technology is embedded in our lives, CCTV (closed-circuit television) records each and every corner and person in London, social media own our data and graciously let us use their platforms to feed them with our personal preference, relationships, movements but promptly release them to governments upon request.

I feel about the internet as scholar who said to Gita Sen about the Iranian revolution –“ do you not see what is coming, you as a feminist?” She has never forgotten those words …

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