Technology and social media platforms can both be enablers or inhibitors of change. Access to technology and the internet can provide opportunities for many women but can also instigate fear and discrimination for some.
Along with various activities in celebration of the International Women’s Month, the Department of International Studies, through its graduate course on Gender Analysis in Development, conducted an online workshop on Unpacking Gender and Technology on March 05, 2021 via Zoom. The online workshop focused on the application of the Gender Evaluation Methodology (GEM), a gender analysis tool that can be used on projects, programmes, and policies to evaluate whether information and communication technologies (ICTs) and the internet are improving women’s lives and shifting gender power relations.
The author of the GEM tool itself, Cheekay Cinco, and Angela Kuga Thas, an esteemed GEM practitioner led the workshop together with Lalaine Viado, the faculty of the IS Department teaching the gender analysis course. Cinco is a feminist technology trainer, a designer and facilitator of collaborative spaces and processes where rights and freedoms on the internet are unpacked and advocated for. Angela Kuga Thas is a feminist and human rights activist in Malaysia. She works on freedom of expression issues and on mainstreaming alternative narrative and on numerous organizational and programme assessments and evaluations.
In her opening remarks, Lorna Israel, the IS Graduate Program Coordinator, stressed that “gender analysis is about knowledge and understanding, so does technology… it involves knowledge to produce machines or devices to meet social or human needs. Gender analysis is also a technology, a tool—for understanding how technologies we used might contribute to advancing or regressing women’s social position”.
Dr. Melanie Reyes, chair of the Department of International Studies, under whose leadership the online event was made possible, also gave her welcome remarks and participated in the event.
The online workshop was participated by the graduate and undergraduate students taking Gender Analysis in Development classes from the International Studies (IS) Department, graduate students from the Department of Social Work, and selected participants representing women’s organizations.
Lalaine Viado ended the workshop by bringing it back to the course she is teaching, “it has been underscored before that gender analysis is a technical course. It teaches you all the tools and frameworks and the mandates for doing gender analysis. While highly technical, it also sends you back to all the gender concepts that are there flying around, but with the use of tools, you will be able to prove, analyze, and promote your own advocacies for gender equality and women’s empowerment. You don’t evaluate for evaluation sake. Evaluation is a participatory process and may be both the end and the means because as you look and dig deeper into the issues in the course of gender analysis, you will be exposed to a lot of details of how patriarchy is happening within our own context. With the tools, you will be able to sum up the experiences in order to change the context, the roles assigned to us, and challenge patriarchy. GEM is one of the best tools around.”