In the current global climate, the access and use of information and communication technologies (ICT) have come to occupy an essential and strategic space for Indigenous Women’s lives given the lack of mobility in their communities.
ICT use strengthens communication between the different networks and indigenous organizations in addition to facilitating the exchange of information on their health, economic, and social situations caused by COVID-19.
FIMI and the International Funders for Indigenous People (IFIP) organized the event Learning and Challenges in the Virtual World to analyze the learnings, achievements, and challenges faced by Indigenous Women on the access and use of ICTs to defend and make visible their role as agents of change within the current world crisis. FIMI and IFIP are natural allies and work together to strengthen the co-investment with Indigenous Women.
Rachel Smith, a Lakota Sicangu Woman and IFIP Program Coordinator, explained that the pandemic has increased the need for funds to deal with it. This capital allows us to have a springboard that drives social change for indigenous peoples.
FIMI Vice President Lucy Mulenki, Masai Woman from Kenya, described that the mobility ban in Africa initiated more communication via mobile phone. Women leaders and organizations have created WhatsApp groups where they discuss their concerns and where they can feel close and interconnected. The challenges they face in the region are the lack of access to education for both children and youth due to lack of Internet and computers. Radio is a good alternative tool that could be used since it reaches most of the communities, although it has the deficiency that radio devices require batteries.
Rojieka Mahin, a Dusun Woman from Malaysia, participated in FIMI’s Global Indigenous Women’s Leadership School (GIWLS). The Program that has three phases and one of them is virtual. Regarding her experience, Rojieka shared that although there are language barriers and internet access in remote areas is complicated, having been part of the GIWLS allowed her to learn the use of new technological tools and instruments and mechanisms to defend ndigenous Peoples rights.
Finally, the donors and allies present ,were invited to join forces to take on the challenges faced by indigenous communities like access to electricity, computer equipment and training, and the internet, the goal being to leave no one behind, since access to these technologies is a right and urgently needed in the current global climate.