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SADC Workshop on Free and Open Source Software Solutions for Women's Organisations

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  • Sunil Abraham
    Dear Friends, Fwd from Africa Source mailing list. Thanks, Sunil Solutions for Women s Organisations Please disseminate widely to your networks in the region.
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 1, 2004
      Dear Friends,

      Fwd from Africa Source mailing list.



      Solutions for Women's Organisations

      Please disseminate widely to your networks in the region.


      Women'sNet, a non-profit women's organisation organisation based in
      Johannesburg, is hosting a SADC regional workshop to build awareness
      of and the potential use of Free and Open Source Solutions (FOSS) in
      the non-profit sector, and women's organisations specifically. The
      workshop itself will be held in Johannesburg, and is scheduled for 6-
      10 September 2004.

      WHY FOSS?

      Being able to use information technology strategically and
      effectively is an important source of empowerment and skills
      development for women who often feel isolated and disempowered by
      rapidly advancing technological change. At the same time, there is
      growing awareness of the potential role of free/open source software
      (FOSS) in particular in harnessing ICTs for socio-economic

      Among the potential benefits:
      * Open source software is royalty- and license free, which means that
      the cost of acquiring the software is lower than that of proprietary
      * Because the source code is accessible, open source software can be
      modified to meet the needs of users in particular contexts and
      * Users are not trapped into ongoing dependency on a particular
      vendor for upgrades and support.
      * The collaborative open source model of software development offers
      greater opportunities for local skills and economic development.
      * Some free software is recognized as more stable and more secure
      than its proprietary counterparts.
      * Open source software is often less demanding on hardware resources
      than proprietary software, and can help break the cycle of constantly
      needing to upgrade hardware to accommodate "software bloat".


      With the exception of certain Internet-related tools, open source
      software is not yet widely used in Africa, and there have been no
      initiatives aimed specifically at using open source to support
      women's organizations and networks. In order to realize the potential
      of open source software it is necessary to

      * Raise awareness of open source tools at a variety of levels:
      policy, management, technical staff and end-users.
      * Provide easy access to open source tools.
      * Develop skills among end-users, technical staff and potential open
      source developers.
      * Ensure the ongoing development of support and training materials.
      * Develop capacity for planning and decision-making around
      implementing open source solutions, including an awareness of factors
      such as total cost of ownership.

      The workshop has two overall objectives: (i) stimulating awareness
      and adoption of free and open software source (FOSS) solutions among
      women's organisations in the region, and (ii) deepening understanding
      and skills among women technicians in providing technical support to
      women's organisations in the assessment, adoption and use of FOSS
      applications wihtin women's organisations.


      The workshop will run over 5 days, from Monday 5 September t to
      Friday 10 September 2004. The workshop will be structured into 2
      parallel tracks, with some overlapping sessions.

      Track 1:

      During the 5 day event, Track 1 participants and facilitators will
      share technical skills and experiences, discuss key challenges in
      realizing F/OSS projects, and develop concrete strategies for
      supporting women's NGOs in their technology decision-making processes
      and efectively integating ICT into their operations and future plans.

      Track 1 will target young women computer technicians - mainly
      technical support staff and system administrators - to build their
      capacity to support women's organisations in their assessments of
      technical hardware- and software-related needs and, where required,
      in migrating to and implementing FOSS solutions.

      The agenda will cover issues such as:
      * Social and NGO context
      * Customizing/configuring and deploying GNU/Linux distributions
      * Configuring clients for desktop and network applications
      * Open Source database and online publishing tools
      * Existing desktop FOSS applications and application development
      * Migrating to FOSS

      Track 2:

      This track is targeted at decision-makers and end-users in women's
      organisations, with a view to building their ability to asses and
      choose between different technical (especially software) solutions.
      This track will also demonstrate the use of some FOSS software
      solutions that faciliate web publishing and information-sharing, to
      illustrate the ease with which women's organisations can maintain
      their a web site - e.g. by pooling content and collaborative online
      publishing - at the regional level, using only basic word processing

      The agenda will include:
      * review of different desktop and networking applications including
      * decision-making processes on technology options, including FOSS
      understanding theory and practice around use of ICTs for equality;
      * developing inclusive ICT strategies
      * measuring the impact of your ICT strategies on gender equality,
      using Gender Evaluation Methodology
      * collaborative online publishing, using FOSS applications like


      Track 1:

      We encourage applications from (young) women who meet the following

      * a solid (3-4 years) ICT training and/or work background
      [troubleshooting, sysadmin, technical support staff )
      * good communications skills
      * programming skills desirable but not required

      * interest in doing work with the non-profit community, especially
      women's NGOs working towards gender justice and supporting them in
      effectively integrating ICTs into their daily operations
      * interest in faciliating sound decision-making processes within
      women's organisations that consider all the possible technical -
      hardware and software - solutions including FOSS.

      Track 2:

      We encourage applications from staff within women's NGOs in the
      region, especially those with the responsibility to make decisions on
      technologies used within the organisation.


      The costs of participating in the workshop is fully funded.
      Women'sNet will cover the costs of participants' return airfares
      (economy class), visa costs, as well as accommodation and a per diem
      (to cover the cost of dinners) for the duration of the workshop.

      Accommodation will be shared.


      Please complete the questionnaire below and return to

      Deadline for applications is Friday, 16 July 2004. Please apply
      soonest as space at this workshop is limited. There are only about 10
      spaces per track.


      Please answer the following questions. Please provide us with enough
      information to understand your skills and interests, and to have a
      sense of why you want to attend this workshop, what you hope to
      learn, and what you can contribute to the event.

      1) Basic personal information:
      a. Name:
      b. Gender:
      c. Nationality:
      d. Country where you live and work now:
      e. E-mail address:
      f. Telephone and emergency contact number(s):
      g. Anything else we should know about you (allergies, diet, medical
      condition, special needs):
      h. Do you need a visa to come to South Africa?

      2) Which track are you applying for?

      3) What, if any, Free and Open Source technologies do you work with?
      Please describe your experience and expertise.

      4) Have you been involved with any technology projects for non-profit
      or civil society organizations? If so please briefly explain them.

      5) What is your current professional affiliation (organization you
      work for, mission of the organization, position you have in the
      organization, is your organization a non-profit, etc.)?

      6) What FOSS applications are you currently implementing in your (non-
      profit) women's organisation? For which purposes? Which applications
      are you most interested in learning more about?

      6) Why are you interested in attending the FOSS Workshop for women's
      organisations? What do you hope to learn?

      7) We encourage participants to share their own expertise and skills
      during the workshop by leading discussion on topical issues such as -
      for example - ICTs for social development and gender equality,
      technology issues in running women's NGOs, the social/political
      contexts of where you operate and how that affects operations, issues
      in content development and information sharing, current strategies
      for deploying ICTs in your work, etc. What tutorials, development
      sessions or discussions would you like to lead (or help lead)?

      This event is organised by Women'sNet, with inputs from APC Women's
      Networking Support Programme, Meraka, and Ungana-Afrika. The event is
      sponsored by the Open Society Initiative Southern Africa (OSISA) and
      and the Information Programme of Open Society Institute (Hungary).

      Natasha Primo
      Civicus House, 24 Pim Street, Newtown, Johannesburg 2001, South
      PO Box 62577, Marshalltown 2107, South Africa
      Fax: +27-11-838-9871

      Knowledge Management Coordinator
      SAfAIDS (Southern Africa HIV and AIDS Information Dissemination Service)
      17 Beveridge Road
      P.O.Box A 509
      Tel: (263) 4 336193-4,307898,335015,335005
      Fax: (263-4) 336195
      Wesite www.safaids.org.zw


      Sunil Abraham, sunil@... http://www.mahiti.org
      314/1, 7th Cross, Domlur Bangalore - 560 071 Karnataka, INDIA
      Ph/Fax: +91 80 51150580. Mobile: +91 80 36701931

      Currently on sabbatical with APDIP/UNDP
      As FOSS Consultant - International Open Source Network
      Wisma UN, Block C Komplex Pejabat Damansara.
      Jalan Dungun, Damansara Heights. 50490 Kuala Lumpur.
      P. O. Box 12544, 50782, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
      Tel: (60) 3-2091-5167, Fax: (60) 3-2095-2087
      sunil@... http://www.iosn.net http://www.apdip.net
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