Cape Town Time:


City Participates in Global Access to Information Campaign

20 April 2021

The Carter Center has selected 13 cities from around the world, including Cape Town, to participate in its first global Inform Women, Transform Lives campaign.

Each city had to put forward a plan that was appropriate for the respective city in terms of its own dynamics and socio-economic circumstances to advance access to information for women.

As a municipal service, the City of Cape Town’s Library & Information Services department will facilitate access to information in this project.

This initiative formally got under way at Retreat Library yesterday – one of 14 libraries participating in the initiative – as the next phase of training women in digital literacy skills via the SmartCape PCs in public libraries kicks off.

Each city was tasked with selecting an initiative to connect women to an existing municipal service or structure to enable them to access important information to advance their lives. The programme will run until October, but will have a lasting positive impact on the women who receive the training.

Due to the fires in Cape Town, the Executive Mayor Dan Plato was unable to attend as scheduled, but had said that the campaign was of great value to women in these communities.

“Through this campaign, hundreds of women from various communities will ultimately benefit through the empowering skills that they gain towards digital and information literacy and the shared learning groups,” said Mayor Plato.

“The women participating in this initiative will gain greater access to information about city services and will empower themselves to access opportunity. The women of our city have hopes and aspirations to be leaders and activists. They also care for their communities and families. Therefore, this campaign is an important way to remind women of the services and opportunities that are available to them within the City of Cape Town and how they can utilise City services to broaden their access to opportunities.”

How the campaign will work for our city

The first part of the campaign includes 10 participants who will be selected to become part of the programme at each of the 14 participating libraries. Each participant would need a library card to access the service, which allows them to make use of the wealth of knowledge and various resources at these facilities.

Once they have gone through a six-week engagement process with various components, they will become information activists who enable others within their communities to be empowered with the necessary skills to access information.

Over the course of the six-week training programme:

The 14 libraries that will participate in the Inform Women, Transform Lives project are: Mamre, Du Noon, Scottsdene, Langa, Hout Bay (for women in the Hangberg and Imizamo Yethu community), Nazeema Isaacs (based in Khayelitsha), Kuyasa, Melton Rose (the Kleinvlei community), Adriaanse, Delft South, Manenberg, Hanover Park, Weltevreden and Retreat.

Skills training through SmartCape

The SmartCape service was launched in 2005, and is designed to help Cape Town residents access the internet, free of charge.

SmartCap provides a portal into municipal services and the various opportunities available.

The women can also access study areas and general areas for browsing. In the digital age, libraries have become a key source of information for many people who may not have access to the internet from their homes, thereby providing a host of additional resources to those who choose to benefit and tap into this free service.

The overall international campaign was launched on International Women’s Day on 8 March as a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.

Access to information is a fundamental right under the UN Declaration of Human Rights, and is critical for the exercise of civil, political, social and economic rights.

“Our libraries are a critical resource within communities and provide an almost endless source of learning,” said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services and Health, Councillor Zahid Badroodien.

“City libraries are symbolic as sources of knowledge that are in line with this campaign’s purpose: to facilitate greater access to information, specifically for the women of our city. This initiative also precedes the launch of SA Library Week, which focuses on what libraries offer patrons in communities. I am sure the Carter Center campaign will be of great benefit to those involved and create open opportunities for women.”

Other cities around the world participating include: Atlanta Georgia, Amman, Buenos Aires, Chicago, Colombo, Dhaka North, Dublin, Guatemala City, Uganda, Lima, Monrovia and Sao Paulo.