Normally, I don’t like to mix my volunteer activities with this business. However, on occasion I am reminded that life always mixes even when we least expect it.
Sunday March 8 was International Women’s Day. I attended an event at the University of Kentucky WT Young Library: Women’s Health is a Social Justice Issue. As you would expect health as a social justice issue was part and parcel of the conversation. What I did not expect was the speaker, Loretta J. Ross, founder and National Coordinator of SisterSong , to bring Information Technology into the conversation.
As Ms. Ross discussed the major issues she considered to be social justice issues she threw Information Technology into the mix. I did a double take and during the Q&A session asked for an elaboration. What exactly about IT is a social justice issue? She began by reminding me of things I knew: access and ability to use IT hardware and software are important. The conversation did not stop there. She elaborated on the privacy issues that were emerging, especially as it related to medical information. The conversation on this issue concluded with an even deeper look at IT access based upon the health of the electrical grid.
I ended up leaving this event with a new perspective on IT. Beyond the technical details and the concerns that I have had about access, my concerns and interest now include the sustainability of the power grid, the need for greater broadband access and a continuing dedication to the advancement and security of electronic medical information.
Knowing that conversations about IT are making their way to the advocacy environment reiterates our need to think broadly about security issues as well as access to not just information but to the sources of locating that information, whether it be historical newspapers or electronic publications that never see print.
Constance Ard March 12, 2009