Getting and Giving Knowledge

As RD discussed with Tim Unwin in her previous post, UNESCO awards one person and one organization for their inclusive ICT work every second year with a prize for Digital Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities. While awaiting the publication of the nominees of the 2018 awards, this last post of our blog will present the 2016 winners of the prize and reflect on the significance of their work.

The UNESCO prize is awarded for “outstanding contributions in promoting the inclusion and enhancing the lives of persons with disabilities through the application of digital solutions, resources and technologies”. It is handed out at the yearly UNESCO International Day of People with Disabilities ceremony. In 2016, nineteen countries submitted individual nominations and 23 countries presented nominations in the organizational category. The prize was finally attributed to Professor Alireza Darvishy from Switzerland and Tiflonexos Asociación Civil from Argentina. A sum of $40,000 was distributed equally between the winners.

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Getting Uncomfortable – Friction between Women’s Rights and Disability Rights

In the beginning of the era of ICTs, technology designed by white men in the Minority World was assumed to be equally useful to everyone everywhere. Today, we know that technologies are not gender neutral and that they mirror the norms of the societies, where they are created. Gender mainstreaming is widely spread in the international development field and yet, of the more than 5 billion people (66% of the world population) that have a mobile phone subscription women are 10-25 per cent less likely than men to own a mobile phone, depending on where they live.

Gender mainstreaming has been criticised for not sufficiently recognise other inequalities that effect women’s lives. Many feminists promote an intersectional understanding of gender in relation to other social categories. An understanding that doesn’t presume that oppression based on gender is the only oppression causing exclusion in a person’s life. In the introduction to the ICT focused issue of the Journal Gender and Development published in July 2018, Amy O’Donnell and Caroline Sweetman argue that ICT4D needs to move beyond questions about access to ICTs and begin addressing the intersectional issues of power and inequality. This involves asking whose experiences are included and whose are excluded when important questions concerning women’s rights are discussed.

But asking these questions can make us uncomfortable. This is sometimes the case when examining the encounter between gender and disability, or women’s rights and the rights of persons with disabilities. This combined field is mined with tension and difficult questions.

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Dis-abilities & Cap-abilities

What are we talking about when we talk about disability?

Disability is a constantly evolving concept. There are many different definitions of disability and the language used around the concept changes rapidly. Persons with disabilities are far from being a homogenous group since the notion of disability accommodates at least 1 billion different lived experiences. All of this makes the understanding of disability complicated and the goals of disability-inclusive development hard to define.

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Becoming Part of the Solution

Welcome to our blog: The Invisible 1 Billion! This blog is the outcome of an academic assignment at the Communication for Development Master Programme at Malmö University, Sweden. Yet, it is a real blog, a voice in the world, as real as any other voice being shaped on the internet. The blog will become one tiny part of the broad discussion on development and ICT (Information and Communications Technology). And at the very moment anyone reads this first post, like you do now, no matter how much a drop in the ocean it feels like, this blog becomes part of creating the values and norms surrounding ICT4D (Information and Communications Technology for Development). Continue reading “Becoming Part of the Solution”