For nearly 15 years Karen Banks and the APC Women’s Networking Support Programme has worked successfully around the globe to bring the use of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs eg. internet, radio, video, cell phones) to underserved women and communities as a tool for women’s empowerment, gender equality, social action and positive social change.
As the Global Coordinator for APC Women’s Networking Support Program, Karen has pioneered the use of ICTs for the empowerment of women around the world. Together they have been at the forefront of the movement to ensure the great potential of ICTs for reducing poverty, overcoming women’s isolation, giving women a voice, improving governance and advancing gender equity.
The 2004 Anita Borg Social Impact Award, underwritten by Microsoft, served to recognize individuals who share in Anita Borg’s vision that technology can be beneficial in the lives of women, just as women benefit the tech industry by bringing their inherent values to their work.
In Africa, the Network is involved in training women’s groups in content generation and dissemination, using ICTs to bringing women’s voices on HIV/AIDs, peace building and violence against women directly to the policy makers, decision makers and the mainstream. In the Asia Pacific region, the Network has conducted and coordinated regional and national Women’s Electronic Network Training (WENT) workshops, which started in 1999 and have become a model for similar women’s training in other regions.
Karen and her Network have worked with NGO’s, activists, and local ISPs to understand the needs of a particular region’s national IT policies and barriers to promoting universal access. In the Philippines, they have worked on intellectual property regimes, media control, and the struggle of communities to access frequency allocations for radios and audiovisual work. In Central and Eastern Europe Network members have been assessing the media and ICT need of women in a region often overlooked when it comes to public interest and donor funding. In Latin America the Network is engaged in work with local telecenters and public access centers to ensure women and men benefit equally in access to and use of public resources.