ICT & VAW – National Strategy Workshop (part 2)
After the intense morning session, Dr. Awab Alvi (better known as Teeth Maestro), gave a very enlightening presentation on “Online Activism Tools”. He engaged the participants in a discussion on how they currently engaged in activism, awareness-creation and policy advocacy and showed them how various online social media and SMS tools can be used to effectively involve people in activism on important issues. He also showed them how to organize groups of people for rallies and protests and how to remain annonymous if one needed to, while engaging in these activities. Some of the tools were even new to those of us who are actively using new media already. Awab’s talk was received very well and participants asked him a lot of questions which he answered very patiently.
The next presentation was by Rabia Garib, Editor-in-Chief of CIO Pakistan. She spoke about Online Privacy and how to keep oneself safe online while using all the latest technologies. “We are our first line of defence”, she said and there are simple things we can do to ensure that we are secure online and that our privacy is not invaded.
She gave some common-sense tips that participants could follow to avoid being cyber-stalked and to keep ones personal data “private”. She made it all sound so simple and easy to do. The Q&A showed how interesting and relevant the talk had been.
On the second day of the workshop Tahira Abdullah gave a very comprehensive presentation on existing laws and policies that affected VAW in Pakistan. She explained how many of the policies were actually in conflict with the Constitution of Pakistan. The presentation was extremely detailed and presented with the passion that one has come to expect from Tahira. She had participants listening intently to every word she uttered. A copy of the presentation is available for download here.
Tahira spoke about several pieces of legislation and policies that had been enacted over the years and explained how they were inadequate. These included the Women’s Protection Act, the distorted Domestic Violence Bill, the laws on Sexual Harrassment in the Workplace and a draft bill on Reproductive Health and Rights. Her contention was that positive new legislation cannot be effective without repealing existing anti-women legislation. She also emphasized that there was a need to collect, compile and analyze all data sets disaggregated by gender. There also needed to be greater participation of women in all fora: political, economic, legislative – decision-making and policy planning, she said.
I then made my presentation on the Prevention of E-Crime Ordinance & VAW – the gaps, the issues and why all of us should be concerned and should work with the government to bring about the changes that are necessary. In fact the consensus was that any policy that was being formulated should have a gender element and focus to it.
(Part 3 of this post will be put up in the morning).