Author Archives: whosgoingtostopme

Profile: Arundhati Roy

Arundhati Roy is an Indian political activist who has focused on environmental sustainability and human rights in her development career. She became famous for her book The God of Small Things, but became known more for her involvement in anti-neocolonial development, as well as pro-environmental sustainability and human rights. Roy has acted as an important advocate of development, particularly of India and Kashmir, outside of the pre-established Western pattern of development, namely at the expense of less developed economic nations. Arundhati as engaged in activism including public demonstrations against corrupt and pro-neoliberal governments in India. As far as her role in environmental sustainability goes, she worked on the Sardar Sarovar dam project, protesting the dam in the name of environmental sustainability, claiming this would end up being a backwards step for India’s development.
I chose Arundhati Roy because I identify with her mission and with her approach. I want to work to promote women’s rights in Islamist nations and Roy was also known for her ardent feminism. I want to do the same work with human rights that she has done as well as in the same way. I want to use political activism and political paradigms to affect change in International development. Also, I want to work to shatter the neocolonial paradigm that Roy herself condemns. I chose Roy for our ideological and methodological similarities. I found inspiration from her story.
ArundhatiRoy

Arundhati_Roy_Birthday_


So you want to be an International Developer?

When we sat down and took career aptitude tests in high school, nowhere on the chart was the choice of ‘International Developer’, in part because I made up the term. However, the fact remains that there is no pre-existing career path for those who want to pursue international development. Wayan Vota was incredibly helpful in giving a sort of how-to guide as far as pursuing a career in International Development. One thing he brought up that truly changed the way I was planning my future was not to attend grad school unless it’s paid for, and what truly matters is experience not achievements on a resume.That was huge. I love that International Development is based on getting your hands dirty not wasting years in institutions learning that the best way to make change is to go out and get your hands dirty! Honestly hearing Wayan Vota really inspired me to take the leap and go head first into the unknown. All in all, I think this is the main lesson I have taken away from International Development- the best way to help it is first to immerse yourself in it. Programs like One Laptop Per Child failed mostly because of lack of information on ICT, cultural and social infrastructure. Also, based on the disaster response work we did, it seems that we truly learn the best ways to help once we are in the situations ourselves. So, if I had to sum up ICT4D what would I say? ICT has unlimited development potential. The fishing Industry in India, voting in Jordan and radio in rural Africa are testaments to the amazing potential that ICT has to affect development. However, first things first, the infrastructure of the country must be known and research must be done. Knowing development on paper is crucial, but knowing development first hand is invaluable.


“Does my Sexiness Upset You? Does it Come as a Surprise?” Sexual Empowerment4D

This blog post will be written sort of in reverse, because instead of addressing what I *have* found in articles, I will be lamenting that which I have not been able to find: the sexual empowerment of women. ICT4D has been widely used to promote sexual health. For example, there have been initiatives to use social media, communication technologies such as cell phones and pagers, and increased internet access to raise awareness for women’s health issues and send out reminders for appointments, check ups or new health discoveries. While connecting women more directly to healthcare services is a great step forward for development, the reality is that ” the potential that ICT has for reaching the female population is still under recognized” (Gurumurthy 2004).

 

One of the ways I feel that the potential for ICT and female empowerment has not been realized is in the area of sexual empowerment. Women in many developing countries are still seen as sexual objects- insentient beings purely there to be used for the pleasure of the man and discarded once he has gotten his satisfaction. Even in developed countries, many women are not taught to value their own sexuality or prioritize their own sexual satisfaction in their relations. Honestly, women are not only not taught to prioritize their own sexual fulfillment, but aren’t even taught to rank their own sexual satisfaction at the same importance of that of their partner. In Western countries, particularly those where censorship is more lax, women can through social media, texting, blogs etc. learn how their bodies work sexually and generally have a starting point for how to derive true pleasure from sex. Giving a woman control over her sexuality, not making her a sexual plaything for her partner for him to please her when he feels like it, or truly, if he even can, but always get what he wants.

According to multiple sources, orgasms have far reaching health benefits including relieving stress, pain, and releasing oxytocin. Oxytocin is related to increased feelings of confidence, increased intuition, social skills and success (floliving.com). Giving women the ability to take charge of and take pride in their own sexuality has untold benefits not only for each individual, but for the developing world.

We can’t truly have equality in the streets if we don’t have equality in the sheets.

 

http://floliving.com/blog/2012/07/top-10-health-benefits-of-orgasm-for-women/

http://en.esacproject.net/node/2812


Breaking Down Concept Mapping

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2729.2004.00090.x/full

In this publication a full coverage of concept mapping for ICT4D. It includes some very in depth definitions of ICT content-mapping and explanations of the various perspectives that go into the mapping process. Both local and global efforts can contribute to the mapping process thus offering many perspectives on the infrastructure of a particular area or nation. The authors refer to the ease of access to content mapping as one of the major reasons that content mapping is “proactive, expanding and transformative” in the world of ICT4D (onlinelibrary.wiley.com). Content mapping encourages creativity, through the expression of thought, and thus shows new ways to think of opportunities for development.

However, the basis of this is a study into the efficacy of content mapping. Within a certain lens, “The goal of this study is to establish whether teaching interventions using ICT-based concept mapping techniques enhances creativity and impacts on writing achievement in 10–11 year old children in their school setting”. The study looked at concept mapping over 9 months with concept mapping done once a week. In conclusion, the study showed that content mapping greatly helped the students with their non-verbal skills.


“Harnessing the Power of the Crowd”

This article from The Guardian begins by referencing a topic we have previously discussed in ICT4D: the use of social media in disaster response. Rather than praising the quick-information system, the author criticizes it for the expected overflow of inherently useless information.Thus, researches have come up with a system of Micromapping to help coordinate mapping and social media efforts in response to disasters. Developed in Qatar, and exactly one month ago the U.N. called on them to test the program on the earthquake in Pakistan.They initially got the idea after crisis mapping Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. Mappers used videos and pictures tweeted to compile their mapping information and accurately assess the damages.This article was great at showing the intertwined benefits and capabilities of using multiple ICTs. In particular, it uses the ability to map as a major factor in disaster response, that, combined with social media, is growing in importna.ce

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2013/oct/08/social-media-microtasking-disaster-response


One Unprotected? Laptop Per Child

As if we didn’t cover them enough in class, the One Laptop Per Child program has some major flaws. However, one glaring flaw of the program is its complete non-mention of safety guards for children on the internet. This article specifically sites that one of the OLPC leaders admitted that safety had been overlooked. Let that sink in. When creating a program to help children in developing countries what was overlooked?  Durability? No. Language Barriers? Of course not. Safety?…Oops.

 

Kids enrolled in the OLPC program and given the only semi user-friendly laptop are given the internet access with not only no previous exposure to the internet/internet culture, but no background in internet safety. In schools all across the U.S.A. children are taught in middle school about the dangers of chatrooms, giving out your personal information and meeting strangers online. When children in the OLPC program encounter these threats without previous knowledge of not only how to deal with them but the fact that a 40 year old man saying he wants to be “special friends” is in fact a threat!! This is not to say that “stranger danger” is a uniquely western concept, but the idea of internet safety should not be. Introducing internet services without safety training is introducing a new realm of threats for the children using these laptops and leaving them woefully unprepared.

 

Unfortunately, the OLPC leader did not say anything with regards to fixing the blatant incorporation of child safety in the program.

http://ilookbothways.com/2010/05/30/one-laptop-per-child-in-the-news-but-still-missing-safety/


Climate Change & ICTs: A Double Edged Sword

https://www.itu.int/ITU-D/cyb/events/2008/geneva/docs/kelly-icts_and_climate_change-may2008.pdf

According to this post from the World Summit on Information Society ICTs are starting to contribute to climate change and global warming. Ironically, ICTs are contributing to some of the disasters that they are also helping manage! I just thoroughly enjoyed this unique take on the relationship between ICTs and disasters! The presentation goes through the negative and positive effects ICTs have on the global climate change, however, the aspect of the publication most pertinent to ICT4D is the section entitled “Implications for Developing Countries”. However, this mostly explains how limited access to ICTs means limited benefits of ICTs when adapting to climate change.

 

Also, the climate focus gives an environmental lens to ICTs, and shows a whole new dimension to the downfalls of them which is truly not covered in any other intersectionality: carbon footprint. 

 

 


ICTs& Poverty Alleviation: There is Hope, Yet!

http://ijedict.dec.uwi.edu/printarticle.php?id=172&layout=html

I found the idea of poverty alleviation via ICTs another issue of education. Perhaps this was a particularly narrow-minded view, which is why I chose a summary of the effects on poverty in Nigeria after privatizing the Telecommunication system. Alleviation of poverty from an economic standpoint, a symbiotic relationship is revealed between poverty alleviation and ICTD. Once the Telecommunication system was privatized IT such as mobile phones became increasingly accessible, and as the lower class gained access to these technologies they were able to utilize the economic advantages of ICT access, thus helping them alleviate their poverty. The article also mentions how access to ICTs leads to higher education and thus the alleviation of poverty.Overall the idea of an economic partnership with ICTs rather than an educational one seems, supported by this article, as a strong way to fight poverty at a national, and even eventually global level At


ICTs, Education& Development, Oh my!

So, per my rant in class on Thursday I decided to write my blog post on the relationship between education, ICTs and development. The piece I found was not so much an article but a report by the Global E-Schools and Communications Initiative (GESCI) on how ICTs and Education interact, and how this affects development.

 

I focused on the ‘Professional Development’ sector, and in one of the first sentences GESCI cited the need for highly-qualified teachers for how to use ICTs in developing countries. Automatically this requires either technical assistance from developed countries or an implemented program to train these highly qualified workers in the local country! Though GESCI suggests using “online professional development courses”, the bottom line is the opportunity to take these courses is still only open to the literate population with access to the internet! This perpetuates the education divide and widens it by giving the top sector a new high to reach, without providing aid, support or opportunities to the lowest educational sector. While the idea is that this information and these skills will “trickle down”. The paper even cites Australian programs targeting these programs at teachers and how are they going to incorporate ICTs into their curriculums.

Ready for the rant?

 

HOW CAN YOU DO THAT IF YOUR POPULATION IS STILL STRUGGLING TO READ?!If you add another obstacle for the highest educated to reach you create a larger gap from the least educated. “Implementation of training is focused on trainers, producers of content, field level facilitators, and other key personnel.” What about the people who need it the most?

 

Are we suggesting to the rest of the world that we’re only interested in developing “key personnel?” yikes.


UN Reviews MDGs: Lesson Learned?

While this past week we discussed the MDGs, I thought it would be particularly interesting to see the official United Nations report on its own shortcomings. Though the U.N. describes the Millennium Declaration as “visionary” and “powerful”, though it seems that the most the organization can pride itself on is “progress” and “inspiration” even though it cites the inconsistencies of this progress. What I found most striking was, all of a sudden, this progress became hard to measure, though it seems as though this is a way to shift focus off the lack of achievement of these MGDs.The perceived strengths include providing framework and raising awareness of these plaguing issues, as well as uniting forces to achieve common goals. However, the lack of “consideration” of different starting points and cultural enablers. What I found shocking was that they failed to consult more experts/ locals on how to implement goals. The document seems to imply that for the amount of consideration and planning put into the MDGs, respectable progress was made. However, I would’ve expected an organization like the U.N., to have put more thought into implementation and conceptualization before making such lofty goals.

As far as it’s connection to this class goes, it makes me wonder about the bond between ICT4D and the MDGs. How crucial are ICTs to MDGs, or is this a way of showing us that ICTs are not the solution to our development problems?