Prepcom 3 Update - 27th September

So � I have been rather remiss with the blogging from the WSIS Prepcom 3 meeting in Geneva, but that�s been because of the very heavy workload I have been subjected to.
As I arrived, straight from the airport after a full 24 hours of traveling, I get pulled into a drafting session for gender language in Chapters 1 and 4. Shortly thereafter, I start off on the Internet Governance (Chapter 3, Subcommittee B) Track.
On Friday, the Chair submitted a draft text for Chapter 3, based on the discussions of the issues that had been going on. We�ve so far gone through a first reading. The real work starts today. But before that, we�ve been lobbying with our talking points.
This week is a lot of hard work, but unfortunately we have fewer and fewer people on site. We�re down to 3 and one part-time. This, at a time when the meetings have been extended to 9 pm every day.
Anyway, I read the Gender Caucus statement on IG last night in the Subcommittee A Plenary (at 9 pm). We got moved up from Tuesday morning, as our statement was ready, and they were in session (unplanned) and we were present!
So the statement is below. You can also find it at the WSIS Gender Caucus website at http://www.genderwsis.org/node/48.

Statement on Internet Governance
Submitted by AMARC (World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters) Africa, FEMNET African Women�s Development and Communication Network, and TERRE DES FEMMES on behalf of the WSIS-Gender Caucus.

Tuesday, 27 September 2005

Thank you Mr. Chairman and Good evening.

The WSIS Gender Caucus considers Internet Governance to be a crucial global Information Society issue. We have a shared responsibility to billions of people, both now and in the future. It makes no sense therefore not to acknowledge over 50% of theworld's population.  We believe that gender equality and women�s empowerment are fundamental principles in Internet Governance as are the right to freedom of expression and human rights. Without these, it is impossible to achieve a just, participatory and equal information society.

Unfortunately, we note with dismay the lack of gender equality and indeed, any reference to gender in the Chair�s Draft of Chapter 3.  World leaders have recently reaffirmed the vital and central position of the principle of gender equality, in the Outcome Document of the High-level Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly, and the WGIG report includes, in Para 43, language on ensuring �equal representation of women at all levels�. The WSIS Gender Caucus would like to see this recommendation included in all governance mechanisms and arrangements.

The WSIS Gender Caucus believes that Internet Governance functions will require decision-making about substantive public policy issues. Women�s equal participation with men is vital in this decision making.

The Gender Caucus appreciates the emphasis given by the Chair to the development aspects of Internet Governance � infrastructure, capacity building, promoting participation from developing countries and multilingualism, and the Gender Caucus would like to see specific action on including women in these activities. Governments should make explicit commitments to implementing appropriate Internet Governance structures that are multi-stakeholder, inclusive, and transparent and that have the equal participation of women and men.  

The issue of inter-connection mechanisms needs to be addressed urgently to contribute to the empowerment of developing countries, and their disconnected populations, which are predominantly female, rather than disadvantaging them as at present.

The Gender Caucus urges continued work on multilingualism as a way to promote local content and diversity on the Internet. Women�s� voices are particularly at risk of being muted if multilingualism is not promoted.

The GC looks forward to engaging with other stakeholders in developing the WSIS recommendations on IG in a way that is consistent with the above stated principles that will contribute to achieving gender equality in the Information Society.  

We have submitted written comments with specific text suggestions to the Secretariat and we hope that these will be well received and incorporated in the final documents.

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