On the other hand, there remains a great deal of work to be done to achieve greater gender balance in official sessions of regional African conferences. Of nine opening speakers of the Accra conference, for instance, only one was female. The picture was only slightly more encouraging in the parallel sessions. This can be explained by the fact that governing bodies in Africa are largely male-dominated. However, if the human dimension of the information society, capacity building and knowledge sharing is truly to be addressed, it is important to avoid excluding half the potential implementing force. We therefore need to find mechanisms to make sure women are fully included as part of the driving force for technology development and transfer. Without them, it will be difficult to bridge the digital divide and build a true knowledge society.
As to the implementation of the documents endorsed at the WSIS Geneva Summit, I would have hoped for some clear and major steps during the Tunis phase, encouraging and enabling initiatives such as the bottom-up campaigns launched by the youth caucus and the volunteer family. For the post-WSIS, we could perhaps get some inspiration from the International Year of Volunteers (IYV 2001). This event was considered by many as a great, top-down and bottom-up implementation success story, involving millions of people at local, national and international levels. The United Nations Volunteers Programme (UNV) set up a team called Team IYV. This team created basic documents, templates and tools. It then worked with national volunteer organizations, governments, UNV and UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) offices to set up national committees. While all national and regional campaigns used the same basic objectives for the year, individual committees shaped their own structures, set up their own websites and launched their own individual initiatives. By the end of the year, there were 126 national committees: all had prepared their own campaigns, some were government-run, others completely civil-society based, while yet others contained a mixture of the two (Report of the International Symposium on Volunteering: www.worldwidevolunteer.org/cdrom). While, in many cases, the committees disintegrated after the year had passed, their work has led to substantial long-term improvements for the countries' volunteer sectors.