Fire Campaign in Costa Rica

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FIRE is not ‘for’ women, rather it is by and about women and their thoughts on various issues, mainly produced by Latin American and Caribbean feminists.

Violence against women and Internet
Gender-based violence occurs in various forms including rape, domestic violence, ‘honour’ killings, trafficking in women, etc. Violence against women is persistent, yet, sometimes, under-recognised human rights violation. The 1993 World Conference  on Human Rights, Vienna and the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women, Beijing, gave priority to this problem. Gender-based violence is now being recognised as a major public health concern and a serious violation of basic human rights.

With the increasing use of Internet, fast route of mobilisation, creation of networks of instantaneous contact, multiplication of the information, support, solidarity, etc. has become possible, but, unfortunately, at the same time, Internet is sometimes being used as means of perpetration of crimes which are not adequately regulated by national or international legislations. Emergence of Internet has opened a space where the violence against the women reproduces. It acquires new forms, expressions and dimensions. The most common modes of violence against women through Internet includes sexual harassment, violence in the pornography, the traffic of people, violation of the privacy  and infantile pornography.

FIRE – not ‘for’ women, by and about women
Feminista International Radio Endeavour (FIRE) is the first international Internet radio produced by women. Based in Costa Rica, FIRE started in 1991. It was originally created as a resource to amplify the voices of the women worldwide. It was originally a shortwave radio programme by and  about women. Inspired by the Women’s Peace Tent in Nairobi in 1985, FIRE sought to create a communications channel on shortwave.

The objectives of FIRE are to promote non-stereotyped images of women in media; recognising and respecting the diversity of women; to promote non-sexist communi-cations, and an inclusive language in the media; to promote the human rights of women; and to produce FIRE in English and Spanish for radio and Internet. Its programmes address such themes as gender perspective. These include neo-liberal policies, women’s human rights, the environment, racism, disabilities, militarism, sexualities, education, arts and culture.

In 1998, it merged its traditional radio service with the Internet. This has enabled diverse formats of communication, through re-broadcasts in local radios, international short wave radio, magazines, newspapers, electronic networks and web pages.

Internet provides the possibility of converting the computer into a transmitter of high freque-ncy, more economical than traditional radio.

FIRE is not ‘for’ women, rather it is by and about women and their thoughts on various issues. Latin American and Caribbean feminists who are FIRE’s permanent producers and directors mainly produce it. Its strategy is to amplify the voices and ideas of women, promote women’s rights, connect multiple voices, technologies and actions as well as strengthen women’s and Third World media efforts by participating in local, regional and global initiatives. It also seeks to generate individual and collective commitment to movement-building and action and it wants to produce high quality, non-sexist, activist programmes in Spanish and English for radio and
the Internet.

It introduced the ‘FIRE-PLACE’ on the Internet in 1999 as a virtual radio station. In 2000, FIRE initiated the development of another kind of webcast called webcast marathons in the form of uninterrupted webstreaming lasting for 8 to 25 hours. Under the name ‘Full Spectrum Against….’ the marathons are organised on special dates of celebration and commemoration such as International Day Against Violence Towards Women and International Women’s Day. Through marathons, it has broadcast the voices of women affected by inequality at work and also the voices of those women who battle against racism and other related forms of intolerance. Another success story is the production of the PEACECASTS. It took place in the immediate aftermath of 11th September 2001. The project is based on the belief that peace on earth can be achieved by realising women’s values. A joint effort with other groups such as Women’s International News Gathering Service (WINGS) and Feminists for the Gift Economy (FGE), the PEACECASTS were designed to get women from across the board to discuss issues.

Campaign against violence in the Internet
FIRE conducts special coverage of events for web casting. In August this year, an international event ‘International Know How Conference 2006’ was launched by FIRE to address the issues related to violence against women in the Internet, and to carry on research on the international audience of FIRE’s Internet radio. The theme of the conference was ‘Weaving the information society: A multicultural and gender perspective’. FIRE brought a massive gathering of 400 women participants around the world to talk on issues of gender justice, cultural diversity, and access to information and communication as a women’s human right.

In the event 2006, FIRE ignited a spark towards a global campaign entitled, ‘Campaign Against Violence in the Internet: Connected by a Network Free of Violence,’ and demonstrated the same in a workshop. It was designed to raise ‘awareness and contribute to the elimination of violence against women in the Internet, which may range from sexual harassment and abuse in chat rooms and blogs to stalking through eMails to violent pornography, all of which violate the human rights of women’. Some of this violence takes similar forms that have existed outside the Internet, whereas others reflect new forms of expression and abuse.

Unique view of FIRE campaign
The campaign aims to contribute to eliminate the violence against women in the Internet, being visible and facing the abusive use of that tool to violate the human rights of women. It also aims to stimulate the networks, organisations and users to restrict free practices of violence and to create and to promote respectful policies and forms to use the Internet. To contribute to generate respectful interactions of the human rights of  women in the use of the Internet like part of the processes of democratisation of the network. The campaign targets to promote the development of a network free of violence, sexism, discrimination and racism, where they are promoted and the human rights are respected, including those of the women. It hopes to contribute:

• to visualise the interaction between the forms of violence against women in the Internet and other forms of social and political violence;
• to the documentation and harvesting of testimonies and cases;
• to the creation and diffusion of data bases on violence forms, sites in Internet, etc;
• to the creation and diffusion of network, data bases of resources, site and program that participates in the elimination of  violence towards women in Internet.;
• to deepen the subject of violence towards women in Internet from the feminists  perspective;
• to contribute to visualise the violence against women and their connection with other forms of oppression, sexism, homophobia, discrimination, racism, ethnocentrism and imperialism.

Subscribing to the campaign
Individuals, organisations and networks were invited to join the campaign by committing to renounce and counteract any form of violence against women on the web, and likewise assume a personal commitment to end violence against women. They were requested to post the campaign logo on their website as a commitment to keep it free of violence and promote the respectful use of the Internet. Any person, network or organization may join the campaign. To join one will have to request through electronic mail sent to In the website of the campaign, names of the subscribers of the campaign will be added. The people, networks or organisations who subscribe to the campaign commit to renounce and to resist any form of violence against the women in the web. The subscribers assume a personal commitment against violence against women. And the websites that subscribe will maintain their pages free of violence and will promote the respectful use of the Internet. They have placed their logos in this page as it forms to express their support to the campaign.

Focus on impact of FIRE
Apart from the campaign, FIRE has also shown its major initiatives to look into some critical factors associated with gender issue. In ‘International Know How Conference 2006’, FIRE presented a workshop entitled, ‘A feminist reconceptualisation of interactivity of media: FIRE coverage of women and armed conflict’, both in Spanish and English. The four-year multi-method study examines the impact of FIRE on its audience and connects it to an in-depth analysis on coverage of women in armed conflicts in Colombia and the Middle East.

The study positively reflects an interactive impact of FIRE on the audience in amplifying women’s voices and perspectives in synchronisation with the political organisations and movements, and also in strengthening and building the movements. In armed conflict, FIRE augmented the voices of women, whose perspectives were staged as an active agent for peace, which otherwise are ignored by mainstream media, portraying them mainly as passive victims. Likewise, FIRE’s broadcasts facilitates as a bridge to the audience to learn about and get involved in political actions and activities of women’s peace organisations, and also to promote collaborations to help in building political and social movements for peace. g

Source: FIRE (FIRE is a Hivos partner)


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