Women in ICT: In Search of Identity

Whenever I participate in any ICT events in South Asia, there is
majority of male participants. I just used to feel awkward sometimes
barking on gender issues being only one female participant in a room.
With the passing time, I have gained enough courage to stop men saying
that "gender is not issue of joke". Deep in my heart, I wished there
were more women supporting my cause of respecting women. I discussed my
feelings with different team members within SAP International and
Bellanet. They encouraged us to initiated process of exploring women
working in ICT arena. I alongwith my women colleague Smriti developed a
concept note for the event in Nepal. Thereafter, we shared our concept
note with other representatives of Computer Association of Nepal (CAN)
and Kathmandu College of Management (KCM), who also joined hands with
BellaSAP. It led to an event on Women in ICT: In Search of Identity on
December 19-20,2006 at Kathmandu.

It was early in the morning; my mobile phone rang that left a message that there is Nepal Bandh
(Strike) on first day of the event. It was too hard to postpone the
event at this last moment. We decided that we will not be postponing
our event; we will organize our event with the participants that gather
for our mission of promoting quality participation of women in ICT
movement of Nepal. We were surprised and thrilled that there were
around 30 women participants who gathered to craft future directions
for mainstreaming women in ICT sector despite political disturbance. We
bow our heads to all these people.

Speed dating did the marvelous job
of encouraging women to introduce with each other. They were busy
picking up new friends for introduction. It was great to see a vibrant
room full of buzzes of introduction. Open Space Methodology was adopted
to discuss "Why women are left behind in ICT movement of Nepal?". Women
came up with different causes regarding inadequate participation of
women. There was feather group discussion to define future steps to
address the identified issues. Closed women's camp also developed
recommendations to government as well as civil society organizations
working on ICT4D for ensuring women's role in ICT4D arena of the
country. It was recommended that government should play critical role
in enhancing women's ICT leadership as well as promoting economic
opportunities for women. On the other hand, civil society organizations
were suggested to work for advocacy that will support in developing
gender friendly policies as well as support for networking of these
fragmented forces of women. These recommendations were shared among
wider audience including Mr. Bal Krishna Prasai, Secretary, Ministry of
Environment, Science and Technology, Nepal who had expressed his
commitment for this mission.

The event also demanded for developing
online platform for discussing women's issues on ICT sector as well as
formulation of Women in ICT Committee for providing continuity to the
process that has been initiated by the organizers and co-organizers of
the event. It is just a beginning and there is more ahead to go.

[Posted by Shikha Shrestha on Women in ICT: In Search of Identity]