Gisele-Audrey Mills and Ana Sisnett
TECHNOMAMA, the computer networking project at WATER, is designed to facilitate and encourage the use of electronic mail and conferencing as a tool for networking and activism within the Foundation for a Compassionate Society and among women's groups around the world.
The Foundation has an extensive history in organization, participation and support of long- and short-term projects and activities that encourage women's leadership. From its inception, the Foundation has been committed to promoting leadership of women from diverse backgrounds in the US and internationally.
TECHNOMAMA works in cooperation with the Institute for Global Communications (IGC) in the United States, the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) worldwide, and with similar networks providing computer networking services for activists committed to working for peace and social change.
Computer Networking as a Tool for Activism
It has been demonstrated that in spite of the diversity of conditions faced by women around the world, there are many structural similarities in the experiences of poor and working class women every where. Given that the overwhelming number of the world's poor are people of color, it is imperative to acknowledge racism and cultural imperialism as crucial elements in the analysis of women's oppression globally. Limited access to resources, double workloads and male-defined cultural traditions are some of the obstacles faced by women, their families and communities from all countries. Sharing common issues, information and the creative strategies that have been developed and implemented by women strengthens women's activism locally and globally.
In order to effectively involve women from diverse backgrounds, especially women involved in activist work in communities, training is critical and is the first phase of the project. By providing opportunities for training in electronic mail and conferencing skill, the inclusion of a greater number of women from a greater number of communities is possible. Trainees will be able to take these skills back to their own organizations and will, thereby, contribute to the increased efficiency, information sharing and networking capacity of women's groups around Austin, Texas and the U.S. and within the Foundation's networks internationally.
As training gets underway, efforts will be made to establish a network of women and men supportive of women's leadership and youth representing a broad cross-section of individuals, organizations and communities committed to increasing women's access to electronic resources.
A pool of trainers committed to "each one, teach one" non-hierarchical, feminist teaching methodologies will encourage women to be aware of and value the power inherent in teaching and in being taught by other women simultaneously. Trainers will be encouraged lo acquire technical expertise as well as sensitivity to teaching and learning methods that work best with women from diverse backgrounds.
The project will include participation of others doing feminist and progressive media (e.g. radio, video, performance art) women-oriented professional organizations and research and training centers, and funding organizations. The project will include special efforts to include women who are traditionally given limited or denied access to, technical training and media, based on sexism, racism, and other pervasive forms of discrimination.
By bringing together women from community-based organizations and women in academic, business and other organizations in the U.S. and elsewhere, we begin to challenge traditional forms of sharing knowledge by developing strategies for collaborative and inclusive methods of inquiry and analysis. Furthermore, the computer networking project serves women involved in social change at all levels to link theory and research to the practical strategies and action necessary to make concrete progress in the global feminist movement.
The training project will identify, organize or participate in events such as meetings, workshops, panels and conferences locally, nationally and internationally particularly those likely to attract a diverse audience from which potential trainees and trainers and other contributors will be identified.
Locally, participants of the video and radio training are welcome to schedule a session on computer networking. Introductory demonstrations and training's are available in one- two- and three-hour sessions to be arranged to suit a variety of scheduling needs. Cost will be minimal and will include training materials.
Gisele-Audrey Mills and Ana Sisnett are, at the moment, TECHNOMAMA's lead trainers. Gisele is a long-time activist involved in the Afro-Brazilian movements in the United States and in Brazil, in addition she has done extensive work in progressive media and cultural production and with women of color around the world, Gisele is a consultant for the Foundation's electronic networking projects.
Ana has worked for the Foundation for several years; first as the manager of the Grassroots Peace Organizations Building and then as liaison to women's organizations internationally. She was introduced to computer networking two years ago by Gisele and that has greatly enhanced her work with women's organizations in the Austin area and around the world.
Other trainers will be trained and encouraged to bring their expertise to the pool as TECHNOMAMA grows to meet the needs of our communities.