The attempt in engendering the WSIS process indeed stretched the resources and capacities of feminist individuals, organisations and networks. But regardless of the magnitude or minuteness of its achievements, WSIS was a space which disturbed traditional working relationships in women's networks, civil society, and summits.
WSIS led to new possible political configurations on the roles of familiar actors such as the state, private sector, and civil society. As a consequence, it called for more nuances in positioning and responses. And for feminists and gender advocates, the WSIS experience surfaced the need for sharper feminist analyses of gender and ICT. If “WSIS made in effect that ICTs can now be framed in a rights perspective,” as Heike Jensen pointed out, positioning and engagement on gender and ICT have to be redefined and even radicalised.
WSIS has metamorphosed into two policy spaces: the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) and the United Nations Global Alliance for Information and Communications Technologies (UNGAID). IGF is primarily concerned on the infrastructure and operations of the internet, including the issues on country code top-level domains management, internet resources, “intellectual property rights,” content regulation, cultural diversity and so forth. Meanwhile, UN GAID focuses on the relationship between ICTs and development, particularly on the areas of education, health, governance, and entrepreneurship, among others.
But even without the IGF and UNGAID, we remain in a continuum facilitated by ICTs and marred by social inequities. The question, ‘who is the global internet community?’ remains, with differing answers, some still being processed, while others being contested. But clearly the answers to this question cannot evade the ever prevalent power relationships between the social and the economic, the local and the global, and the south and the north, and how gender intersects these divides.
Luz Maria Martinez, Isis board member, similarly pointed out the growing concentration of wealth in few private hands in the “information society” that consequently increases the marginalisation of civil society and even governments in policy arenas. Much of this wealth are owned and control by men whose careers and businesses were built on ICTs including outgoing Microsoft head, Bill Gates.
Reimagining the global polity is likewise crucial in the governance of information societies. The public sphere becomes necessarily broader, the interests more complicated, and actions towards it, diverse. “[Information societies] necessitate theorising on the emerging public and collective action since the information society pose multiple and fragmented interests as well as new normative and institutional response,” asserts Anita Gurumurthy of IT for Change. She added that in the “information society,” the global increasingly bears the potential of being a locus for change.
Yet, aside from being conscious of the emerging roles, politics and spaces in the “information society,” gender advocacy in IGF, UNGAID and other processes can be radicalised by ultimately informing such advocacy by the lived experiences of poor women in the South.