This blog post is dedicated to the memory of Magaly Pineda, founder and Executive Director of CIPAF (Centro de Investigación para la Acción Femenina). A powerful proponent of women’s rights in both her native Dominican Republic and around the globe, Magaly was a close partner of A4AI, and was critical in moving forward the efforts to encourage the Dominican stakeholders to engage and participate in the development of a new and gender-responsive Digital Agenda. You can learn more about Magaly’s life and work in this CIPAF interview about her work there and in this video interview about her efforts to close the digital gender gap.
When members of the A4AI-Dominican Republic Coalition first gathered in February 2015, they identified a number of key barriers to affordable Internet access and use in the Dominican Republic. Included among these was the lack of a cohesive, national vision to guide ICT policy development; although a number of digital agenda drafts were developed between 2005-2010, none was ever passed into law. Efforts spearheaded by the A4AI-Dominican Republic Coalition encouraged the Dominican government (specifically, the National Commission for the Information Society (CNSIC)) to revive efforts to develop a new national Digital Agenda. This new agenda will be informed through a series of public consultations with a wide range of stakeholders — from private sector and civil society organisations to youth and education groups — and will take into consideration the unique needs of — and barriers faced by — women in the digital space.
Though earlier drafts of the Digital Agenda acknowledged gender issues, noting the Gender Equality Plan for the Information Society (PIOM-SI) (developed by the Research Center for Feminine Action (CIPAF) in collaboration with Dominican gender advocates), they did not integrate the recommendations of that document across the policy’s action areas. Recognising the need for the new Digital Agenda to address these important issues head-on, A4AI, CIPAF, CNSIC, Indotel, and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs organised a workshop in September 2015 on how best to integrate gender across the five pillars of action laid out in the draft Digital Agenda. Over 90 stakeholders from various government agencies, the private sector, and Dominican civil society groups participated in a public consultation on the Digital Agenda to determine how digital and ICT policies could be made more gender-responsive.
The recommendations from the consultation were then shared in a plenary session, which revealed enormous public support for an increased focus on gender equality in the policy. Participants also recommended a potential sixth pillar to focus on gender and digital inclusion, with cross-cutting considerations for gender and socio-economic equality in the Information Society. Participants recommended that the new policy focus specifically on:
- Digital services designed for the information needs of women and girls;
- Infrastructure and access strategies that consider the barriers to access faced by poor women, especially in rural or remote areas;
- Capacity building and educational opportunities for women and girls across all sectors, from agriculture to the military; and
- Building support for women technologists.
The inputs and suggestions are currently being integrated into the working draft of the Digital Agenda, which should be submitted for approval by mid-2016. We’ll be sure to keep you updated as this process moves forward.