When discussing ICT4D (or ICTD/ICT4$/whatever your preferred term might be) we often evaluate the positives associated with the proliferations of ICT’s and sometimes overlook potentially negative side effects of this expansion in technology. An organization called Gender IT is working to bring attention to the drawbacks of technology, focusing on the threats that this expansion may pose to women. One of their reports, Mapping the Intersection of Technology and Gender Based Violence analyzes how the expansion of technology correlates with the instances of gender violence in the respective area. The organization has started a new campaign called “Take Back the Tech” that aims to empower users of technology to end violence against women.
The article sites a number of harassment cases, including one about a 16 year old Argentinian girl who was repeatedly harassed by a professor through mobile phone messages and calls. The campaign works by mapping stories, such as this one, and as of December 7, 2011 over 103 stories had been mapped. The campaign was launched in November. The interactive map is actually run through Ushahidi and reports violence against women in 5 broad categories including: culturally justified violence against women, online harassment and cyberstalking, intimate partner violence, rape and sexual assault, and violence targeting communities. The article provides a breakdown of over 80 confirmed cases of violence against women, and this number has increased since December. Though not all of the assaults against women utilize technology, this mapping technology allows them to report the violence and start taking a stand against it. I think this organization has the potential to show women around the world that technology, more than just posing a threat to their safety, is an excellent opportunity for them to take stand and defend themselves. The TBTT campaign is vital to safe ICT proliferation around the globe, and I hope that this organization can grow to have a much more powerful influence and presence in the ICT4D community.