IGF 2019 WS #149 Designing strategies to boost women's digital inclusion

Organizer 1: Pavithra Ram, RNW Media
Organizer 2: Michele Ernsting, RNW Media
Organizer 3: Adrien Trocme, RNW Media

Speaker 1: Mariam Nafogou, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 2: Fiona Nzingo, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 3: Pavithra Ram, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Policy Question(s): 

1. What strategies could be developed to increase the presence of women media producers, and content generated by women in the digital space in restrictive settings?

2. What strategies can we develop to promote meaningful and safe engagement by women and girls on relevant digital channels

3. How do we ensure that Internet governance processes are truly inclusive? How can we identify systematic blockage of digital content (for and by women) by digital gatekeepers such as Facebook and Google and promote practices which support digital inclusion of women?

Relevance to Theme: This workshop will look at the barriers women and face in entering the digital space and being present in a meaningingful way on the internet. In this way we will approach women's digital inclusion by identifying barriers to women's access to the Internet as well as activities which can promote an inclusive information society.

Inclusion also means bringing everyone to the discussion table and ensuring everyone’s voice is heard and treated equally. In this case, we will also examine the harassment and stigmatization of women in the digital space - both as producers of content and participants in discussions. We will also broach women's access to the right skills, motivation and trust to confidently go online. We will show how digital content and engagement strategies can increase digital inclusion of women and how this can contribute to stronger and more cohesive digital communities.

We will also look at the role of key stakeholders such Facebook and Google in blocking the inclusion of women's voices and issues in the digital space - and how we can develop strategies to counter systemic censorship.

Relevance to Internet Governance: Our proposal supports the creation of more effective recruitment policies for CSOs working in digital space to improve their recruiting and retention of women team members. We will also offer recommendations to all stakeholders on how to create content which is inclusive and promotes women's online engagement. This is highly relevant for governments, CSOs as well as the private sector. In addition, we will show how the policies of key private sector actors such as Facebook are currently excluding women and creating new barriers to participation. This can help the private sector to create more inclusive algorithms to support diversity on important digital platforms. The goal is also to promote greater transparency around the effects of algorithms on digital inclusion.

Format: 

Break-out Group Discussions - Flexible Seating - 90 Min

Description: Designing strategies to boost women's digital inclusion:

RNW media builds safe digital communities in countries where civic space is shrinking and restrictions are growing in relation to issues such as freedom of expression and sexual health and rights. We facilitate inclusive digital communities to support young people to realize their rights.

We operate through local teams in Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Syria, China, Burundi, Mali, DRC, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Rwanda, India and China. Our reach is extensive, with several communities ranking among the top 10 in terms of size in the countries in the where we work. Our overall content views exceeded 600 million in the last year alone.
The size of our communities and their reach is important. We seek to amplify the voices of young people in order to influence policies which affect them. In 2018 we documented many examples of how our communities brought the issues of young people to the attention of decision-makers at the national and global level – as well as how politicians adapted policies to respond to the needs and aspirations of young people.

For this reason, it’s crucial that our teams engage a diverse group of citizens. This is a challenge given that women’s access to the online space is limited by many factors. We will focus on three key areas of exclusion of women in the digital space and share some of the strategies we’ve pioneered with our digital teams which have significantly improved women’s online presence, and engagement in the digital space.

We propose to share these strategies in a workshop with a breakout session which will zoom in on three key aspects of women’s digital inclusion.
The Workshop will begin with a 5 minute pitch on each of the key aspects.
We will ask the audience to choose the group which is most relevant for them.
In the breakout sessions we will present our findings in a 10 minute presentation.
We will then facilitate 30 minute session to discuss the strategies and harvest ideas and best practices.
Each breakout group will report back on the top three insights relating to each topic area.

1. What strategies could be developed to increase the presence of women media producers, and content generated by women in the digital space in restrictive settings?
Our global experience has shown that it’s difficult to recruit and retain female content producers for a number of reasons. There are fewer female graduates from media schools. Many women lack training and confidence to share their content/opinions online. Women bloggers are stigmatised online and trolling forces many to leave. In addition, women tend to stop working as content producers when they marry or have a family. We have developed strategies to recruit, train and retain women. We will share our strategies from Mali and invite others to share theirs.

2. What strategies can we develop to promote meaningful and safe engagement by women and girls on relevant digital channels
Women and girls have a much lower presence online than men. In addition, their online engagement (likes, comments and questions) are also much lower. We’ve identified several reasons for this: Much online content is produced by and for men. Women do not see it as relevant for them. When women do engage on content, they are often harassed by other community members leading to a feeling of insecurity in the digital space. RNW has developed content strategies which result in content which is more relevant and accessible to women. We’ve also developed moderation methodologies which have doubled women’s engagement relative to the national average in some of our FB communities. We will share our strategies and invite others to share theirs.

3. How do we ensure that Internet governance processes are truly inclusive? How can we identify systematic blockage of digital content (for and by women) by digital gatekeepers such as Facebook and Google and promote practices which support digital inclusion of women?
Across our digital teams we tracked 1400 disapproved ads relating mainly to the subject of sexual health and rights. In health we see quite a gender bias – the majority of ‘not approved’ content is related to female health topics. Posts relating to subjects such as intimate partner violence and gender based violence are often disapproved for reasons such as “negative images”. Ads for sexual and reproductive health products are also often disapproved. We will analyse 1400 disapproved ads across 7 countries to show some of the patterns we are observing in censorship. We will invite participants to share their experiences and strategies for greater inclusion and transparency around ad disapproval.

Expected Outcomes: Through the sharing of the lessons learned and input from the diverse parties at the session,we will generate strategies and recommendations to promote women's inclusion in the digital space relating to the key policy questions.

Follow up will include further consultative dialogues with like-minded organisations with the aim of developing new, innovative pilots or scaling-up projects, as appropriate.

Analysis from the session will cross-pollinate new multidisciplinary projects on bridging the online gender divide.

Onsite Moderator: 

Michele Ernsting, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Online Moderator: 

Adrien Trocme, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Rapporteur: 

Michele Ernsting, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Discussion Facilitation: 

The breakout session will provide the opportunities to share best practices and together generate key insights on how to improve inclusion of women in the digital space. Each breakout group will choose a participant as rapproteur to share the findings back to the other breakout participants. The key insights and recommendations will be documented and shared with the whole group following the event.

Online Participation: 

We will engage our local teams across 12 countries to listen in and participate in the session. The teams are based in Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Syria, China, Burundi, Mali, DRC, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Rwanda, India and China. They can submit questions and recommendations. All findings will be shared back to them.

Proposed Additional Tools: We will present some AB testing we did and ask the participants to predict the results of the tests. We will also play a game where they are in the role of moderator and have to make snap decisions on content.

SDGs: 

GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-Being
GOAL 5: Gender Equality
GOAL 10: Reduced Inequalities
GOAL 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions