Sara Hlupekile Longwe
is a Zambian, a grassroots mobiliser, critic and author of the Longwe Framework for Gender Analysis
has contributed greatly towards the women's movement in Africa, as well as to the feminist movement globally.
sees herself as a radical feminist activist and she
believes that ICTs can be used to win gender struggles in Africa.
"The majority of the population in the rural areas are women and they have a smaller chance of having access to new technologies.
Looking at Africa, ICTs can be used to fight these technology-related gender imbalances," said Sara
in an interview with ENAWA in December 2003.
One of the gender and ICT issues that Sara
considers important is that of infrastructure that contributes to the huge gender gap existing in access to communication in Africa.
If the technology is not available it cannot be used.
was recently awarded the 2003 Africa Prize for Leadership.
This annual award of the Hunger Project recognizes the "vital importance of emerging women's leadership for a new future for Africa".
articles and gender framework were read worldwide once e-mail and websites started being used for feminist activism.
"Without these new technologies I could not have been picked for the Hunger Project award since people could not see my work for themselves," Sara
has been rooted in the struggle for gender justice for many years.
In 1984, she was a founding member of the Zambia Association for Research and Development (ZARD), which was instrumental in pushing the government to ratify the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
is involved in many communication initiatives that recognise the importance of ICTs for improving the lives of women in Africa.
For six years, she
was chair of FEMNET, the African Women's Development and Communications Network.
Established in 1988, FEMNET aims to strengthen the role and contribution of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) focusing on women's development, equality and rights, and to provide an infrastructure for information and empowerment.
was also a prime force behind the Flame network of African sisters online committed to strengthening the capacity of women through the use of ICTs to lobby, advocate and participate in the Beijing +5 process regionally and globally.
is part of a recently-formed network called GRACE - Gender Research in Africa on ICTs for Empowerment.
This project will explore the question of how the lives of African women are being transformed by the use and appropriation of ICTs.
On a voluntary basis Sara
coordinates the Southern Africa Social Forum
, which held its first event in Lusaka, November 2003.
mobilised the event solely through e-mails and a temporary website created with the assistance of the local chapter of One World (http://earth.hosting.com/sasf2003).
This year Sara
will be at the centre of the coordination of the Third African Social Forum
to be hosted in Zambia, December 2004.
One of the sub-themes will be African feminist perspectives.
For the past four years Sara
has been part of an international feminists dialogue that has been held at the World Social Forum
, thanks to the fact that its main mobilising tool has been internet (e-mails, online-chats and websites).
"All communication facilities cost money and this is expensive in Africa.
Operating from the business centres is expensive and when it involves paying for information access, women are less likely to be able to pay.
I have access at my home and in my office.
This has helped me manage to publicise my work.
believes it is crucial to make positive efforts and provide the necessary support to document the history of women using ICTs.
observes that local content on African women is missing.
encourages all efforts underway to document the experiences and realities of women in every region.
PULA salutes the work of Sara Hlupekile Longwe