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29 September 2005, the Pan African Women's Day, passed by quietly in the mainstream media. Yet it is a historic day when we celebrate women's contribution to liberating and sustaining Africa.

On this day, members of the Solidarity for African Women's Rights (SOAWR) coalition and the African Union Women and Gender Directorate hosted a conference in Addis Ababa on Realising the Rights of Women through the Ratification of the Protocol on African Women's Rights. The Protocol received its 15th ratification in October 2005, meaning that it will enter into force in November 2005. This speedy ratification is due to a large extent to the perseverance of the African women's movement.

However, as we celebrate the coming into force of the African Women's Protocol, we need to strategise towards its domestication and operationalisation so that women from all walks of life can truly use it as a tool for justice. As stated by Adv. Bience Gawanas, AU Commissioner for Social Affairs in her keynote address at the conference, "The task for the women's movement therefore is to constructively create ways of translating the human rights/legal discourse into practical realities and relevance to the everyday lives of people."

September also heralded the celebration of Software Freedom Day. LinuxChix-Kenya marked the day by contributing to increasing the number of girls taking up information technology as a career. Several studies have shown that not only are there few women in Information and communication technology (ICT), there are even fewer women with free open-source software (FOSS) and Linux technical skills.

This is especially evident in Africa, although the statistics are not much better elsewhere--for example, only 2% of the thousands of developers working on FOSS projects in America are women as revealed in August 2005 at the seventh annual O'Reilly Open Source Convention held in Portland, Oregon.

Keeping in the ICT field, Internet governance has been a major focus of the second phase of the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS). The Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG) report was released in July 2005. However, many women activists were dismayed at the lack of gender considerations in the report. FEMNET examines what is at stake for African women and Internet governance.

Christine Butegwa is Communications Officer with the African Women's Development and Communication Network (FEMNET)


Le 29 septembre 2005, Journee Panafricaine de la Femme, s'est passe tranquillement au niveau des medias principaux. Pourtant test une journee historique puisque nous celebrons a contribution des femmes a la liberation et a a survie de (1) Afrique. Lors de cette journee, les membres du Mouvement de Solidarite pour les Droits des Femmes Africaines (SOAWR) et la Direction des Femmes et du Genre de l'Union Africaine ont organise une conference a Addis-Abeba sur la Concretisaton des Droits des Femmes a travers la Ratification du Protocole sur les Droits des Femmes Africaines. Le Protocole a obtenu sa 15eme ratification en octobre 2005, ce au signifie qu'il entrera en vigueur en novembre 2005. Cette ratification a accelere en grande partie le resultat de la perseverance du mouvement des femmes africaines.

Cependant, au moment ou nous celebrons l'entree en vigueur du Protocole des femmes africaines, nous devons mettre en place des strategies visant sa vulgarisation et sa concretisation afin que les femmes de toutes les spheres de la vie puissent reellement s'en servir comme instrument de justice. Comme l'indique la declaration de l'Avocate Bience Gawanas, Commissaire de l'UA aux Affaires Sociales, lors de son discours Programme a a conference," La tache qui revient au mouvement des femmes est donc de creer, de maniere constructive, les voies de convertir les droits humains/le discours juridique en realites pratiques et pertinence par rapport aux vies quotidiennes des gens."

Septembre a egalement vu la celebration de la Journee de la liiberte du Logiciel LinuxChix-Kenya a marque la journee e contribuant a l'augmentation du nombre de filles qui s'engagent dans la technologie de l'information en tant que carriere. Plusieurs etudes ont montre que non seulement il y a peu de femmes en technologie de l'information et de la communication (TIC), mais qu'il y a meme encore moins de femmes ayant un logiciel a source ouverte (FOSS) et les aptitudes techniques de Linux. Ceci est specialement evident en Afrique, meme si les statistiques ne sont pas meilleures ailleurs--par exemples, seulement 2% des milliers d'agents travaillant dans des projets FOSS en Amerique sont des femmes comme il a ete revele en aout 2005 a la septieme convention annuelle source Ouverte O'Reilly qui s'est tenue a Portland, Oregon.

Toujours dans le domaine de la TIC, la gouvernance de l'Internet a ete un principal centre d'interet de la seconde phase du Sommet Mondial sur la Societe de l'Information (SMSI). Le rapport du Groupe de Travail sur la Gouvernance de l'Interner (GTGI) fut publie en juillet 2005. Cependant, beaucoup de femmes activistes ont ete decues par le manque de considerations du genre dans le rapport. FFMNET examine les interets en jeu pour les femmes africaines et la gouvernance de l'Internet.

Christine Butegwa est Responsable des Communications aupres du Reseau de Developpement et de Communication des Femmes Africaines (FEMNET)
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Author:Butegwa, Christine
Publication:Femnet News
Date:Sep 1, 2005
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