Grassroots/local organizing

Building a Media Justice and Communication Rights Movement


Recommendations, challenges, needs, and resources for building a media justice and communications rights movement: from a 2006 survey.


What's needed to build a movement for media justice and communication
rights? Recommendations, challenges, needs, and resources from a survey
of 45 media activists, educators and organizers in the Summer of 2006.

Article Text: 

Click below to download the report in pdf format.

Did you say cell phones for development? (Internet & ICTs for Social Justice and Development)


Using cell phones towards development objectives
in Africa, with a particular focus on HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment
and care.


Women’sNet recently engaged in a UNICEF-driven speed assessment of
fifteen projects that apply cell phones towards development objectives
in Africa, with a particular focus on HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment
and care.

Katherine Walraven for APCNews
Article Text: 

MAPUTO, Mozambique -- Considering the rapidly growing presence of cell
phones in the developing world, interest in their role for advancing
development goals is only natural. And, considering the demographic
overlap between those most affected by HIV/AIDS and cell phone users,
it only makes sense that a major focus be put on how this low-cost
technology can fight this deadly pandemic.

Women’sNet recently engaged in a UNICEF-driven speed assessment of
fifteen projects that apply cell phones towards development objectives
in Africa, with a particular focus on HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment
and care.

Gender in the HIV/AIDS crisis and the digital divide

was asked to join the study because of the gendered nature of
development issues in general, and of HIV/AIDS in particular. For
biological, economic, and social reasons, women and girls are at the
greatest risk of contracting the virus and consequently make up a
mounting proportion of the global HIV/AIDS-infected population.
Sally-Jean Shackleton of Women’sNet told APCNews that, among eighteen
to twenty-four year olds in certain areas of South Africa, “one in four
females among eighteen to twenty-four year olds is HIV+, compared to
one in twelve males.”

What is more, women face significant
barriers to accessing and benefiting from information communication
technologies (ICTs), and many ICT for development (ICT4D) projects and
programmes fail to effectively consider the gendered nature of
development issues and/or the digital divide. Women’sNet has
incorporated gender concerns into its research for the rapid
assessment, looking at how women and men use cell phones differently,
women’s levels of access, and whether gender is adequately incorporated
into projects’ design, implementation, and monitoring.

South Africa’s use of low-cost technology

research for the five-month study, which culminated at the end of April
2007, is focused on three projects in South Africa. These are:

 Fahamu’s Umn Yango (meaning ‘doorway’ in isiZulu) project, which
promotes the use of cell phones to access and report information
related to violence against women, women’s access to land, and HIV/AIDS
in five rural villages in the province of KwaZulu Natal;
 Cell-Life’s AfterCare project in Cape Town, which enables home-based
care workers to use their cell phones to collect and transmit data on
HIV/AIDS patients’ well-being and adherence to anti-retroviral drug
treatment (low levels of which contribute to mutations of the virus and
drug-resistant strains);
•     And, SimPill’s award-winning
Adherence System project, also in Cape Town, which uses a real-time
management system to increase adherence to medications prescribed to
treat chronic illnesses – particularly tuberculosis, which is a
significant cause of death of people living with HIV.

While the
projects are experiencing success in the collection and transmission of
medical data and, to a lesser degree, health information management and
drug adherence, most of the projects studied are having little to no
impact on HIV/AIDS prevalence rates just yet. The pandemic “is complex,
deep, and overwhelming, and it would take a lot more than these
projects to make a dent,” said Shackleton. This is especially true
considering that “many projects seem to skid to a halt after being


identifies mismanagement as the factor that most constrains the
potential of these projects. Those expected to benefit from the
projects are not always consulted or otherwise engaged, funds are not
always spent wisely, and there is often disconnect between
beneficiaries, health professionals, technologists, and managers. For
example, Shackleton explains, “health care workers who transmit data
from their cell phones may not get feedback as to whether their input
was useful – or received, and police officers who receive messages
reporting violence against women may not be prepared to respond.”

major constraint is crime. Although cell phones are a relatively
low-cost technology, they still hold considerable value in
poverty-stricken areas, and are commonly stolen. And, such theft is
likely to rise as these devices adopt increasingly sophisticated
functions. At the same time, however, the theft of a cell phone
involves much less financial loss than that of a more costly device.

the challenges that exist in using cellular technology in development
projects, Shackleton maintains that it holds great potential, saying,
“I think cell phones are the way to go. They are useful, relatively
inexpensive tools for networking, decreasing travel time and cost –
especially for rural residents, maintaining relationships, pursuing
opportunities, making money, banking, reporting crime, accessing
services, and managing patient care. The technology can do anything,
really, but people have to drive it.”

Copies of the rapid assessment report can be obtained by contacting Sally-Jean Shackleton at sallys [at] womensnet [dot] org [dot] za.

For more information on the projects mentioned here, visit the following websites.

Fahamu project

Cell-life project

SimPill project

Author: --- (Katherine Walraven for APCNews)
Contact: katwalraven at
Source: APCNews
Date: 04/26/2007
Location: MAPUTO, Mozambique

Making Change Happen: Power (Just Associates Reports)


This edition in the Making Change Happen series examines the complexities of power and opportunities for constructing and transforming power. Includes concepts and ways of understanding power with the hope of contributing to debates on how to strengthen analysis, action and movement building.

Wed, 2007-05-23 17:00
Just Associates publications, 2007
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