Monday, January 30, 2006

Gender, Equality and Transport - An invitation

This is a preliminary posting, a place-holder the objective of which is simply to mark this terrain as a first step, and then invite the members of the GATNET group and others interested in these issues to come in and help us define and put these means to work.

I see this as a step-wise process which I put before you today for your reactions, suggestions and eventual collaboration. Here are the steps as I see them this afternoon in the waning sun of Paris:

  1. I invite you to have a look and then let me know what you think for next steps. In all this I am acting as your temporary secretary and web assistant, and see this as but the first step in the process of turning this into a collaborative instrument which will be defined and run in time by those of you who wish to pick up this challenge.

  2. Let me start by saying though, that while this is no big deal, it could turn out to be useful for us. Unlike the content of newsgroups, the content here tends to be picked up quite nicely by Google, meaning that articles that appear here are going to have a quite wider ‘reach’ than what we can expect to achieve through our internal communications.

  3. And so, if you think this is an idea worth pursuing, the first thing that you might consider doing is joining us as a “Contributor “ to our collaborative effort. This is again no big deal, but it does serve as a first step to mark this as something which belongs to us all (and in the process serves to erase the awful reference to me and photo that currently mars the bottom right column of our fine new page.

  4. Another thing that would be good to hear from you about, would be the selection of links to which we are trying to provide here easy one-click access. Also if there are any good blogs on our topics. (I have started the listing for both but this is mainly just to get the juices flowing.)

  5. For the record, my personal preference for browsing and moving beyond this is to go to the proposed GATNET home page (at Http:// ) which has the advantage of providing handy links to various bits of the Dgroups site, the IFRTD home page on this, and a few other useful things. But that’s just a personal preference.

So if you think this might be something we could build on, please get in touch and I will do my best to take this the next steps. I look forward with real interest to hearing from you.

Eric Britton

The Commons at

Paris France

E: Tel. +3331 4326 1323. Skype: ericbritton


Blogger ericbritton said...

-----Original Message-----
From: Priyanthi Fernando []
Sent: Monday, January 30, 2006 6:25 PM
To: Gender and Transport
Subject: : GATNET on the WEB - Next steps? - An invitation

Dear colleagues

A quick comment to clarify what was merely a very brief exchange between Eric and myself.

I believe GATNET is a very effective network for two reasons: one because it is there, and accessible should anyone of its members need help or peer support or access to information, and two because it does not overload my inbox and leave me overwhelmed by an influx of messages and chat.

I suspect that many members, me included, do not have the luxury (??) of being solely dependent on internet communication – many of us are practitioners working outside cyberspace, trying to integrate gender into practical actions in our day to day activity in the real rather than virtual world. So while I do appreciate the resources that Eric has put at our disposal, I am afraid that the time I can devote to a cooperative blog or a skype conference will be extremely limited. I am happy in the knowledge that there is a gender specialist database that I could draw on should the need arise, I was extremely interested in the roundtable discussion that gatnet hosted last year and look forward to more such time bound and focused activity; I am proud that gatnet contributed to raising the profile of gender in the IFRTD agenda, through Nite’s participation in the Stockholm meeting. I am also very appreciative of the occasional resources and notices of events that Kate and others post on the network. I am not unhappy about spells of silence – I see them as periods of individual activity and/or reflection. I am confident that should there be some major opportunity for advocacy or information sharing I could rely on GATNET to generate a dynamic debate and much evidence. In the meantime, I confess I am likely to be a more silent observer than an active participant in any higher level of group activity!

With apologies for being such a stick in the mud


31/1/06 11:15  
Blogger ericbritton said...

-----Original Message-----
From: jeff turner
Sent: Tuesday, February 07, 2006 11:57 AM

Hi Eric,

Thanks for the useful suggestions you have made on further efforts in this area. I think it is important for further effort to be guided by two principals in this area:

1) that we should allow more voices to be heard not less, particularly
women, particularly Southern women and particularly of women facing the
everyday reality of gender inequality in the transport sector. These neglected voices are not represented in too many policy discussions. If technology can be used to further this objective and what we use the technology for can further this aim then we should do it. Approaches such as 'blogs' could be used in this way, but more thought may be needed about
making it easy for time-poor professionals in the field and women suffering at the coal face of inequality to engage with this approach. Ideas around posting photos through camera phones and 'a story' attached to them may see
more productive (this is just an idea and fraught wih its own problems) than one 'voice' keeping a 'blog' in the area of gender & transport, with the views of that individual driving it.

2) that, as Margaret Grieco has cogently pointed out, we should be involved in archiving the multitude of practice going on in tis field and not constantly using precious resources to re-invent the wheel and change the view of expertise. The available technologies can be a great help in this, if we focus on the appropriate approaches. Wikipedia, for example, may help
in this as long as it allows us to record the many various pieces of work that have been undertaken in this area and incorporate different analytical viewpoints and doesn't try to reduce the field down to a particular set of knowledge or view. The e-journal as suggested by Margaret Grieco would help
in this too.

I therefore think that some of your suggestions would be useful and I am
happy to contribute to taking them forward, but I think we should also be seeking ways of involving the many, easily and not reducing down to the few who can contribute to a particular technological approach.

Hope this helps in developing a way forward



Jeff Turner Transport & Social Development Consultancy Ltd
2 Parkside Ave
Leeds LS6 4JD UK
Tel +44 113 2781994

7/2/06 12:22  
Blogger ericbritton said...

Dear Jeff (and hello everybody else),

Those are excellent comments and challenges, but above all I would like to thank you for making them. It is in this spirit of lively and open exchange that I think we can best define how we might go about al this communications business in the next stage of the Gatnet adventure. And if this note in response is a bit long, it is precisely because you touch on some very important issues which I agree need to be thought through with all the collective wisdom we can muster.

But before I get to your points, I would first like to report on an exchange that I had yesterday morning via Skype with Nite on this subject. Our point of departure in our Skype talk (our first) was to look together at the latest cut of for her information and comments (you may wish to have a quick look?), which I opened with the following remarks about what I was learning through the process of spending quite a few hours with the Dgroups site both for what it does, what it could use as a complement, and its content. The point I was pleased to make with her is that as I looked through the Dgroups message archive, I was struck by two things. First, by what good use the group is making of it. The content is really excellent: compact, on focus and useful. Really a fine operation. The second thing that I noted with especial pleasure was how cordial the whole spirit is. Now this is not something that one sees in many Listservs, and it is an important human quality that is worth bearing in mind as we look to the future.

(By the way, a small thing but not without its importance for us, is that Skype gives you a change to pop a small picture in so that your colleagues and callers can thus “see” you. It is a very nice reminder, and I was really glad to be able to see Nite in this way. Warmth is important too!)

Nite and I spoke for a good half an hour (cost=zero) and I was glad to have a chance to lay before her some of the thinking behind all this adventure from us here, and in particular to make it clear that . . .

1. Each component of this proposed little toolset is aimed at complementing and extending the usefulness of the Dgroups site - and certainly not replacing it. (Why fix it if it works, eh?)

2. Each tool is of course 100% optional and if anyone wants to make use of it, great. And if they do not chose to, no problem either.

3. Each tool is geared to be useful under field conditions (where there is internet access of course, which is certainly far from being the case – see below), meaning that they can be fluently accessed and used with dial up modems (i.e., not harder or more rarified to use than Dgroups from a technical sense).

4. And the goal, the bottom line behind all this is . . .

a. To practically serve the current members of Gatnet.

b. To provide a platform of information and access that will attract new members, people working directly in these areas who may be attracted by the wider reach which some of these new add-ons permit, including that the work and communications of the group will now be picked up by Google and other search engines.

c. And to provide greater expertise and reach of the specific communications problems of those who are not as yet really reached by the existing tool set (including this new one by the way . . . or at least for now). But my point is this: if we ourselves at least in part are not averse both to using state of the art technology where it makes any sense given the bottom line of our mission (assisting “Southern women facing the everyday reality of gender inequality in the transport sector” ) – we will be better positioned to be looking our for ICT tools and means that will permit us to extend the reach of our communications. We should not lose sight of the fact that the future is not a mirror of the past and that in this particular area things are moving very fast indeed and that in all this there are some useful surprises already beginning to show the tip of their noses. Anything you can do with a mobile phone comes to mind, but that’s only a part of this brave new world.)

I cannot speak for Nite as to how she felt about all this, but my interpretation of our exchange was that she was prudently interested to give it more thought, which delighted me because I am aware that she and you know so much more about the day to day needs and realities in the field, so al I can do is work a bit, propose and then listed to what she and you have to say. Later in the day she sent me the following message which I reproduce here I hope with her permission. (We did in fact talk about it.)

From Nite, via Skype on 2006-02-06:

"Hi, I have looked at the site and although it is work in progressive, it is quite impressive. I now understand, and I must say appreciate, the kind of structure you had in mind. I have no objection to that kind of structure because it makes the wealth of information available on the gatnet listserve easily accessible and yes, very time saving especially for those without easy access to the Internet.

"A question or two regarding the naming: "Gender, Equality and Transport", are we bringing in a new dimension, in addition to gender: equality? Or is it gender equality (equality of opportunity irrespective of sex/gender)? I know that others may not agree with me but if we would like to address issues of diversity between women, men, girls and boys, the "gender, equity and transport" would reflect that better. Gender equality to me is providing equal opportunities at the starting point, gender equity on the other hand is about equality of outcome, making sure that everybody, irrespective of sex/gender, have an equal opportunity of reaching the finishing line. But anyway, as has been said before, as long as we know and keep sight of what we would like to achieve..."

* * *

And yes, this matter of the title I have popped on the site is one that needs more thought and fine tuning, but no let me turn to Jeff’s good comments and caveats. Since I basically agree with his communication, I would just like to comment briefly a couple of the points he brings up which perhaps are worthy of qualification or at least further background from here:

a. “one 'voice' keeping a 'blog' . . . with the views of that individual driving it”
Oh dear no. My role in the proposed blog is simply that of a facilitator. It is after all a co-blog, a thoroughly collaborative undertaking the content of which is determined by the Gatnet members. As you will note I am already outnumbered 4:1 in the Contributors list, and moreover it will be they and you will determine the content. For my part, I am happy to work as your IT handyperson, but the issues have to be driven by those who are in direct contact with them.

b. “archiving the multitude of practice going on in this field”
Yes indeed, and if you check out the still horribly crude and incomplete lower half of the menu, you will see the first outlines of the kind of “library and retrieval system” that is one way or another going to be needed.

c. “Wikipedia”:
This is a delicate land and if you have the time is certainly worth close inspection, if at all possible from a contributor perspective. Couple of points there: (1) It is above all and exactly an encyclopedia, which means that it is a place for defining significant features of our society. It is very definitely not a place to announce research projects, but rather to make encyclopedic (i.e., informed and neutral) statements about the entry. Which brings up (2) – what if any entry might we consider putting into the Wikipedia, which will serve to make sure that if any journalist, researcher or anyone else in search of solid reference on our topic, knows indeed what it is all about. Now for the present time, how exactly to make such an entry, what to call it, is not at all clear to me – but I certainly want the world to know more, and care more. Maybe we can give this a bit of thought?

d. Margaret Grieco’s e-journal:
That just might be the co-blog? That at least was my idea from the beginning, as I tried to respond to her call.

e. “We should also be seeking ways of involving the many, easily and not reducing down to the few who can contribute to a particular technological approach.”
100%. And of course. Hopefully my thoughts on this are now clear.

Thanks Nite and thanks Jeff. All this is necessary and to my mind helps a lot. After all, if we don’t work as a team, then none of this makes any sense, does it?


PS. You will be getting this entry which is in fact a Comment, along with Pri and Jeff’s cautionary notes, which are forwarded to you directly from the co-blog.

PPS. Thus are we have on Skype: Nite, Kate, Carlos, and your servant. It’s free of course and works from Uganda (and any dial-up modem of 33k or better). If you go to and click the Skype entry there you will find some quick background on how this works, etc. You may find it useful.

Eric Britton
The Commons
Paris, France
Skype: ericbritton

7/2/06 13:50  

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