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Sexual Rights Online and IRL: The International Scene

Written By: Audacia Ray
March 23, 2009

 

I’ve been spending Sunday and Monday in San Francisco at the second annual Sex::Tech – Focus on Youth conference, which attracts non-profit, advocacy, youth rights, reproductive health and tech folks from all over the place.

This year I gave a talk about the online work that IWHC is doing and supporting to foster sexuality rights and reproductive health for people offline (IRL = in real life). I spoke about IWHC’s new media projects: videos, our Flickr account, our Facebook causes page, and this here blog. When it came time to talk about what some of our partners are up to internationally, I let our partners speak for themselves. At the beginning of March, when the Commission on the Status of Women was happening at the United Nations in NYC, I was able to grab some video interview time with Ishita Sharma and Ishita Chaudhry of the YP Foundation from India and Bafana Kumalo of Sonke Gender Justice from South Africa.

Here is what they had to say about their utilization of the Internet and the challenges they face:

After my part of the talk, Leandro Vieira dos Santos of Reprolatina in Brazil spoke about the incredible growth of their website since its launch. He did really well despite some anxieties about his English – most of the questions in the Q & A period were for him. Later we had an interesting conversation about online trends: these days, it isn’t enough to have a great, thorough, and informative website as a kind of destination. Youth especially are spending more of their time on Myspace, Facebook, and YouTube than they spend actually browsing out in the wilds of the web. So, like in harm reduction, it’s important to meet people where they’re at. For those of us who’ve worked really hard to create amazing websites, this might mean letting go a bit and engaging in different spaces. But resistance is futile – the social web, a web full of profiles and applications, isn’t going anywhere. Well, at least it isn’t going anywhere until something shiny and new replaces it. In the meantime, moving beyond home pages and into other spaces is key.

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