Despite the rapid spread of digital technologies, millions of people on every continent still lack access to communication platforms, are underrepresented or misrepresented in the media, need training in media literacy, and have limited access to relevant and accurate information and knowledge.
These issues demonstrate Communication and Information Poverty, a challenge that undermines the vision of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, its 17 goals and 169 targets.
Communication and Information Poverty arises from structural deficits that prevent people from fully participating in decision-making processes about issues that affect their lives. Key manifestations of this form of poverty are:
To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, Communication and Information Poverty must be addressed. In 2016/2017, WACC developed a position paper on the Sustainable Development Goals entitled "Addressing Communication and Information Poverty in the Context of the SDGs". The document can be viewed here.
WACC’s partners and members at the local and national levels are tackling root problems and advancing viable solutions that are at the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Sauti ya Mwanamke Kijijini—SAMWAKI (Voice of Rural Women) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo addresses the lack of media coverage of rural poverty in local media in the province of South Kivu.
People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty in the Philippines builds the capacity of rural women to advocate for their right to food. It documents and disseminates information about food-related issues and solutions proposed by rural communities, such as cooperative systems.
Fundación Comunicación Positiva in Colombia works to build the capacity of low-income people living with high-cost chronic diseases to use citizen journalism to advocate for their right to healthcare. Patients are supported in the creation of podcasts documenting their stories, and trained in advocacy.
Radio Likhu in Nepal works to ensure that children of the Sunuwar (Koits) Indigenous community are able to access education in their mother tongue, as mandated by the country’s constitution.
Community Media Centre in Palestine works to equip women and girls with practical communication skills, knowledge about their rights, and tools to document human rights violations.
Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants—APMM in Hong Kong engages women migrant workers from the Philippines and Indonesia living in Hong Kong, South Korea, and Taiwan in the production of short podcasts about their personal stories, labour rights, access to services, and denouncing abuse.
Community Media Network of Uganda— COMNETU works to address the digital gender divide by providing affordable internet access to low income women. COMNETU has combined internet access with capacity building on business development and access to community radio advertising airtime.
LGBT*IQA Association Okvir in Bosnia and Herzegovina uses storytelling, and multimedia content to document the impact of activism by sexual and gender minorities in relation to security policies, political change, and gender diversity issues during the 1990’s armed conflict and transitional justice period (1990 to 2016).
AlterMidya Network in the Philippines provides urban poor communities seeking access to housing with communication platforms to organize, demand change, and explain their views in digital and traditional media.
Getjenge Community Radio in Zimbabwe engages community members in dialogue about indigenous and traditional knowledge that can help with climate change mitigation, adaptation, and risk reduction.
La Sandia Digital in Mexico works to build the capacity of rural communities to use media to defend water systems and forests from extractive projects that put biodiversity, livelihoods, and people’s lives at risk, and also undermine the role of forests as carbon sinks.
Grupo Comunicarte in Colombia works with a community radio station and students from 12 public schools in Arauquita to create spaces for dialogue, active citizenship, and the construction of a culture of peaceful conflict resolution. This work is taking place in a post-conflict context following the 2016 peace accords.
Gender inequality is a key dimension of Communication and Information Poverty. Gender issues affect how women and girls are represented in the media, have access to media platforms, and gain information and knowledge. Gender inequality also undermines the ability of women and girls to exercise their right to freedom of expression, which in turn prevents them from fully participating in decision-making processes about matters that affect their lives.
Agenda 2030, under SDGs 9 and 17, recognizes that increased access to the internet and mobile telephony can help people to participate in the information society, have their voices heard, and contribute to the production and dissemination of knowledge. But issues such as the ownership and regulation of digital platforms, privacy, and illegal surveillance in digital spaces, must be addressed to ensure that people’s rights are protected. It is also essential to use digital tools to promote civic participation and demand policies that lead to broader equity and inclusion. Only when digital platforms function within a framework of human rights will they truly help to generate genuine opportunities for free and informed participation.
Democracy, good governance and the rule of law play a fundamental role in achieving sustainable development. Open and democratic access to communication and information underpins the achievement of these objectives as it promotes social inclusion, peaceful conflict resolution, advances the rule of law, sheds light on corruption, promotes trust in institutions, and enables participation. It is also directly linked to freedom of expression and freedom of association. Groups working in community media, media monitoring, advocacy on access to information and media reform, participatory communication, and citizen journalism can help address Communication and Information Poverty and advance sustainable development.
We invite you and your organization to help us tackle Communication and Information Poverty so that together we can help advance the Sustainable Development Goals. Please visit our website to make a donation or write to firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your support.
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