I remember one of my first approaches to technology is linked to a computer with a MS-2 operating system, which you used commands to activate some program. The team belonged to my cousins, I was 9 years old and the few times I had access I saw it as a personal challenge to learn and remember the right commands to run my favorite Game: Prince Of Persia; for me it was important to learn the command, even if I didn’t have a computer at home. My first cell phone was a Nokia 3390, and for a long time, even when the first wave of smartphones came, I couldn’t afford a modern one. That time coincided with my first steps in digital communication, through the participation of activist movements on Facebook and Twitter, and particularly in the case of the latter, being part of communities, then small, of volunteers and emerging activists through SMS.
My story is not unique: Lesly Zerna, leader of MentorHer, tells me that she played Pacman on her uncle’s computer when she was 10 years old, and when she turned 18 she wrote her first program during her first semester of Telecommunications Engineering; for Nathaly Alarcón, leader of Women in Data Science, the computer, at its meager 10 years of age, was one more toy to explore. Likewise, Olga Paredes, part of Wikimedia Bolivia, tells that in her case her approach was late, when she was 17 years old she had a PC at home. Until then, internet access was always from internet cafes, mobile phones; the curiosity he experienced most was related to learning Wikipedia, when he discovered in 2007 that we could all edit Wikipedia.
More than one woman will feel identified with these stories, but the reality is that we do not know their ways of appropriation of technologies and the digital; do these women educate themselves or through the Internet? are they knowledge producers? do they generate economy or other alternative job opportunities? what new or” old ” violence has been modernized and is stalking women, girls in these digital spaces?. Although the percentage of the internet population by sex is 51 per cent male and 49 per cent female, according to AGETIC’s ICT survey; we still do not have data that will allow us to understand the other inequities related to access and use of ICTs that play against closing the digital divide.
For a long time, the term “digital divide” was uniquely associated with connectivity, the possibility or impossibility of access to infrastructure. As it says in Alma Rosa Alva de la Selva, the only connectivity is important, but not enough, we need equitable access, meaningful use and social appropriation of the resources of the technologies of information and communication; added to that, the studies that analyse this phenomenon, and not focusing for example, on the access modes in detail: the fact that the internet access is done from mobile devices, whose network is coverage limited or intermittent is an important detail, pointing to Olga. But beyond access and infrastructure, Lesly mentions the macho culture rooted in our society in which girls are taught that first there is home and family, even above the desire to pursue a profession. Another factor is the lack of models to follow closely, both academic and work-related, which does not mean that they do not exist, but that in any case they are still isolated and there is a need to approach one another.
Technologies are part of our daily life, today digital technology is mainly spoken through social networks. However, it is a broad discussion as there are many ways in which women can incorporate them into our daily lives. Olga points out the value of reinterpreting the term “technology ” beyond internet-mediated resources, as well as understanding hacker and creative thinking criteria in all developments in everyday life. For Nathaly there is also value in harnessing technology to automate our processes, to analyze our data and also to create businesses.
Sonia N. Jorge, Executive Director Alliance for a Internet Affordable, during the event, Childhood 360° of UNICEF welcomes the participation of girls in areas of STEM (acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), emphasized the need that the ICT policy be developed with a gender perspective, translated not only in access to technologies by women and girls, but also recognizing that the technology itself is not neutral, but that is set up as an item that can exclude certain populations.
This is why, as Lesly says, the FemHack is a space dedicated to talking among women about technology issues, where no matter how much or how little you know, but there is always a space to learn more and to share, to make us visible. And it is an opportunity for reflection, questioning and collaborative construction of proposals with women in a safe and fertile environment for disruption and individual and collective self-knowledge, as Olga and Nathaly point out. A space to listen, to know the context and from there to think protection strategies that bet on the community, not by General manuals and gurus that tell you what to do without listening to you. This last idea is still heavily discussed within Warmi.Red, we have a lot more questions than certainties. That is why we would like to hear the views on this issue.
This year, we will hold this meeting of women talking and learning more about our projects and interests in technology. The date is September 28 in Cochabamba and we have some transportation grants for women who want to attend and live in other departments; women who want to participate can register at: http://warmi-what?red/femhack/ we want to see you at the Femhack!