IGF 2017 WS #102 Redefining Rights for a Gender Inclusive Networked Future

Short Title: 
Redefining Rights for a Gender Inclusive Networked Future

Proposer's Name: Ms. Amrita Choudhury
Proposer's Organization: CCAOI
Co-Proposer's Name: Ms. Nadira Al-Araj
Co-Proposer's Organization: ISOC Palestine
Co-Organizers:
Ms Maritza Aguero Minano, Academia, AUI Peru / LACRALO Secretariat
Ms Evelyn Namara, Private Sector, Techpreneur Uganda
Ms Nooria Ahmadi, Technical Community, AfIGF, Afghanistan
Ms Sylvia Kanari, Civil Society, Hivos, Kenya

Additional Speakers: 

Mr Gustavo Pavia, Grupo de Estudos de Direito da Internet - [email protected], Brazil

Ms Anju Mangal, - KM-ICT Specialist, Fiji

Ms Sarah Kiden, Mozilla Fellow, Uganda

Agenda: 

1. Introduction to the subject 5 mins
2. Outlining the Current Scenario and Challenges based on the Survey Results 5 min
3. Speakers to shared their Regional Perspectives based on the Survey 20 mins
4. Open Discussion on Challenges and suggested Improvements 20 mins
5. Summarizing key take away from the session 5 mins

Report: 

IGF 2017 Workshop 102 Report

- Session Title:   Redefining Rights for a Gender Inclusive Networked Future (WS102)             
- Date: Thursday, 21 December, 2017             
- Time:   11:20 - 12:20             
- Session Organizer: Amrita Choudhury and Co-Organiser Nadira Al- Araj              
- Chair/Moderator:   Amrita Choudhury           
- Rapporteur/Notetaker:  Sarah Kiden          

- List of Speakers and their institutional affiliations:                
●       Amrita Choudhury - CCAOI - India - Organizer and Moderator 

●       Nadira Al-Araj - ISOC Palestine –Palestine- Co Organiser[Online]

●       Angelica Contreras – Internet Society Special Interest Group on Women  - Mexico

●       Anju Mangal - KM-ICT Specialist - Fiji

●       Nooria Ahmadi - Afghanistan School on Internet Governance, Afghanistan

●       Sarah Kiden – Ford Mozilla Open Web Fellow - Uganda

●       Renata Aquino Ribeiro, E.I.Research   Brazil

●       Gustavo Paiva - Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte - Brasil

- Key Issues raised (1 sentence per issue):          

●        The gender digital divide, especially among people living in the Global South is increasing due to the existing gender disparities, discrimination and inequalities they face.

●        Identifying the existing challenges in creating a gender inclusive networked future across the Global South.

●        Identify the common challenges across nations while emphasizing the unique  regional or national challenges if any.

●        Discuss the best practices adopted by certain nations or regions to overcome the challenges.

●        Highlight areas which need reforms along with  suggestions pertaining to Socio-cultural or Policy related changes to improve gender right online especially in the Global South.

- If there were presentations during the session, please provide a 1-paragraph summary for each presentation:                 

The session followed the BOF style  with no presentations . The speakers shared their opinion and then the audience was encouraged to share their views.
- Please describe the Discussions that took place during the workshop session (3 paragraphs):                
During the session, the preliminary findings of our study “Views and Perspectives on Gender Rights Online, for the Global South”, where we captured the responses of 19 experts from 15 countries and 162 respondents belonging to 52 countries of the Global South, were shared by Ms Amrita Choudhury. The main global challenges related to gender rights, especially in the Global South, highlighting specific regional or national issues,  some  best practices adopted to overcome those challenges, while highlighting areas of public policy or social aspects that need to be addressed were shared. This was followed by the panelists spending a few minutes commenting on the survey and sharing their perspectives, followed by an  open discussion with the audience.

As per the study, 67% the respondents felt that their country is not completely gender inclusive, with most nations halfway there.The top challenges across the global South hampering the creation of a gender inclusive digital world include, existing social and cultural norms in the society about the role of women; low literacy rate due to lack of access and opportunities to education, digital skills and ICT; lack of access to infrastructure, resources, devices and relevant content; lack of comprehensive approach towards women empowerment, including better understanding of gender equality and issues along with inadequate policy implementation; limited access to financial support and opportunities; workplace gender equality Issues; issues of Trust and Privacy online; lack of Role Models and limited platforms to interact and network; and inadequate research to base evidence on these issues. Nadira Al-Araj further pointed that the social development priorities in Middle East and North Africa region are quite different from the rest of the region due to the exitsing political and economic instability including ongoing wars in the region. She also pointed that while there were many initiatives launched in the MENA region, however, only 11% of MENA respondents of that region were  aware of the best practices adopted by their countries, which goes to show that a communication gap exists between what is actually offered and what the general public knows or even benefits from these initiatives. From the Pacific Island perspective, Ms Anju Mangal, felt that while there is focus on  ICT, however the focus of gender in ICT is missing. Ms Angelica Contreras,shared that online abuse was stopping many young women from going online in her region. Ms Nooria Ahmadi and Ms Sarah Kiden felt that the traditional perceived role of women in society was the biggest barrier which does not allow women to participate.

For ensuring gender equality online, especially in the Global South, policy reforms; promoting literacy and ICT skills amongst women and encouraging digital literacy is important; policy reforms for ensuring gender inclusive access to internet; building trust online, including better legislation and enforcement of laws against online harassment; economic incentives to encourage diversity in the workforce, encouraging more engagement amongst women networks, will go a long way in ensuring the Global South nations can realize their aspirations to create a gender inclusive and networked future online. Ahmadi and Kiden highlighted the importance of changing the socio-economic norms and promoting digital literacy and STEM education amongst women. Ahmadi  called for digital literacy to be embedded in policy-making. Kiden shared that stories of women in computing and the Internet, such as Grace Hopper should be shared in order to encourage more women. Mangal pointed that policies, both offline and online should be inclusive of all- women, minorities, ethnic communities, people with disability and men should be encouraged to participate in these discussions and policy framing. Al-Araj shared that improving  gender rights for Women Empowerment and Protecting Rights Online was most important for women in the MENA region.

Government led initiatives and reforms are considered most important for improving gender rights online, especially since under SDG goal 17 all the government policy makers are mandated to include policy related to reduce the gender gap. However, the correct implementation and execution of these policy reforms was felt to be more critical. AL-Araj however shared that interestingly the  MENA respondents gave weight to the role of civil society initiatives to improve gender rights rather than government initiatives,

- Please describe any Participant suggestions regarding the way forward/ potential next steps /key takeaways (3 paragraphs):    

There was a general agreement among participants  that there have to be a comprehensive approach and initiatives to solve issues related to gender inclusive and encourage their participation both offline and online. Policies should be inclusive for all: women, minorities, ethnic communities, people with disabilities, etc. A participant highlighted that women with disabilities are doubly disadvantaged, which creates a lot of barriers for them. Ms Gunela Astbrink also shared the example of  “Pacific Disability Forum” which is helping the disabled. Participants also agreed that gender does not mean only women, but should cover men as well, as men can be allies to help improve the circumstances.

There was a general agreement about the need for building capacity and encouraging women to take up STEM education. Further, participants felt that more women to women,  mentorship and support programs; providing an open, collaborative platform where women can share and learn from each other, will help to encourage women to come online.

Participants also shared their concern of growing online violence against women, which is resulting in  more women  becoming invisible online in order to avoid online harassment. The need for  creating awareness and capacity building; regulations to ensure safety of women online along with  ways to help deal with online crime and violence against women  will definitely help. A respondent also shared about the “Take Back Technology Initiative”

Participants also felt the need to continue the best practices and also learn from the best practices adopted by others. A respondent, however, cautioned the need to address issues such as grass root initiatives run by local communities when later taken up by bigger corporations, not getting their due acknowledgement.

Gender Reporting

- Estimate the overall number of the participants present at the session:

There were around 35-40 participants in the room during the session; 4-5 online
- Estimate the overall number of women present at the session:

85% of the participants were women.
- To what extent did the session discuss gender equality and/or women’s empowerment? 

The session was about gender equality and the need to redefine rights for a gender inclusive networked future.

- If the session addressed issues related to gender equality and/or women’s empowerment, please provide a brief summary of the discussion:

As mentioned earlier the objective of the session was to get an insight on the,

●        Existing challenges in creating a gender inclusive networked future

o    Identify the common challenges across  Global South nations

o    Emphasize the unique  regional or national challenges if any.

●        Best practices adopted by certain nations or regions to overcome the challenges

●        Areas which need reforms along with  suggestions;

o    Policy related to improving gender rights

o    Social and Cultural development.

o    Others

In that context, we shared the preliminary findings of our study “Views and Perspectives on Gender Rights Online, for the Global South”, where we captured the responses of 19 experts belonging to 15 countries and 162 respondents belonging to 52 countries of the Global South.

The top challenges across the global South hampering the creation of a gender inclusive digital world include existing social and cultural norms in the society about the role of women; low literacy rates due to lack of access and opportunities to education, digital skills and ICT; lack of  access to infrastructure, resources, devices and relevant content; lack of comprehensive approach towards women empowerment, including understanding of gender equality and issues and inadequate policy implementation; issues of trust and privacy online; limited access to financial support and opportunities; workplace limitations, few role models and limited platforms to interact and network.  Additionally the lack of systemic database and evidence on barriers and enablers of technology, especially related to gender is limiting decision makers from taking a comprehensive view on issues related to gender rights online.

For ensuring gender equality online, especially in the Global South, Policy Reforms; promoting literacy and ICT skills amongst women and encouraging digital literacy is important.  Simultaneously, policy reforms for ensuring gender inclusive access to internet; building trust online, including better legislation and enforcement of laws against online harassment; economic incentives to encourage diversity in the workforce, encouraging more engagement amongst women networks, providing mentoring and support, will go a long way in ensuring the Global South nations can realize their aspirations to create a gender inclusive and networked future online.

Government led initiatives and reforms are considered most important for improving gender rights online. Moreover, since under SDG goal 17 all the government policy makers are mandated to include policy related to reduce the gender gap, it is the Government’s responsibility to create an enabling  environment where the gender gap is reduced. However, the correct implementation and execution of these policy reforms was felt to be more critical. Proactive Initiatives by Business; Awareness & Capacity Building of Civil Society; technical Innovation by the Technical Community are also considered important.

Therefore, for achieving a Gender Inclusive digital Global South. It is imperative that all stakeholders work together.

Información de Contacto

United Nations

Secretariat of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

Villa Le Bocage

Palais des Nations,
CH-1211 Geneva 10

Switzerland

Tel.: +41 (0) 229 175 778