IGF 2020 WS #147 Building digital bridges: engaging young women online

Time
Monday, 9th November, 2020 (11:00 UTC) - Monday, 9th November, 2020 (12:00 UTC)
Room
Room 2
About this Session
In the session Building digital bridges: engaging young women online, we will learn how contextualized approaches to bridging the digital gender divide can lead to the empowerment of (young) women’s voices online. Three speakers will introduce different on-the-ground experiences and explore the differentiated responses needed to guarantee that women’s voices are heard.
Thematic Track

Organizer 1: Anna Hengeveld, RNW Media
Organizer 2: Marloes Verholt, RNW Media
Organizer 3: Michelle van Raalte, RNW Media

Speaker 1: Anna Kuliberda - Senior Advisor TechSoup 
Speaker 2: Reema Hamidan - Project Coordinator Huna Libya
Speaker 3: Jahou Nyan - Programme Specialist RNW Media 

Moderator

Nesmah Mansoor, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Online Moderator

Nesmah Mansoor, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Rapporteur

Anna Hengeveld , Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Format

Round Table - U-shape - 60 Min

Policy Question(s)
  • Which existing inclusive strategies to tackle the digital gender divide and address women’s online engagement can be further developed to ensure the digital inclusion of young women in all their diversities?  

  • How can we scale-up existing inclusive strategies, while at the same time ensuring these strategies keep responding to the local needs of young women worldwide?  

  • What can we do to ensure development policies respond to the local needs of young women from the global south when implementing digital inclusion programmes?  

  • How can we include young women in the development of such policies? 

As stressed in various international reports on the digital gender divide, more work needs to be done to develop new digital inclusion programmes and learn from previous ones. Research and evidence gathering, lessons learned and opportunities for scaling up new initiatives should be shared and coordinated. There is a need for differentiated approaches that respond to the local needs of communities and individuals. Smaller initiatives with the potential to provide this flexible and tailored response that are often overlooked and not included in mainstream policies.  

This session will showcase some of the best practices for bridging the digital gender divide by focusing on the empowerment of women for civic engagement in the digital space.  There will also be space to discuss future opportunities for scaling up some of these best practices and ways of including them into policies and digital gender equality initiatives. During the session various stakeholders from different fields—and different geographical regions— will present their approaches for empowering young women’s voices in the digital space. The speakers will discuss their strategies to create an enabling environment for young women’s online participation. Techsoup does this by building offline communities of innovation in which every voice counts, supporting non-technical voices in building confidence to participate in tech solutions and bridging gaps in communication and cultures between women activists and tech experts. While RNW Media focuses their gender inclusion strategies on building enabling digital communities in which women are stimulated to participate and enter into debate by creating gender sensitive content and empowering women through empowerment, such as the relevance of gender sensitive content, inclusive tech and other engagement strategies.  

Huna Libya will demonstrate the various inclusive approaches they employ to increase women’s engagement on their online platform. For example, encouraging positive and constructive dialogue through community moderation or targeting specific groups of young women to be the first ones to express their opinions on particularly relevant content can help create a ‘safe space’ to participate online. Ultimately, a sense of safety and trust is of great importance to empower women to engage in the online space. All three speakers will include their perspective on how to deal with building trust and increase women’s resilience in the online space.  

SDGs

GOAL 5: Gender Equality
GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
GOAL 10: Reduced Inequalities
GOAL 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

While an ever-increasing proportion of the world’s population are connected to the internet, women are being left behind. Moreover, young women face different barriers that prevent them from going online. Existing social norms in restrictive settings, familial control, (young) women’s economic situation or the threat of online violence are all examples of obstacles for the civic engagement of women online. The different challenges that they face ask for contextualised responses to ensure that women can equally participate online. For women to benefit from the opportunities that the digital transformation can offer, emphasis should be placed on the empowerment of women’s voices globally.  

To empower women’s voices, we need to go beyond a one-size-fits-all approach and identify ways for women to feel safe and confident to participate online. The approaches need to be flexible and closely tailored to the different needs of specific communities and individuals. To adapt approaches to fit the needs of different (gender) identities, we need creative solutions and inclusive content to increase women’s engagement in the digital civic space.  

This session will introduce different on-the-ground experiences and explore the differentiated response needed to guarantee that women’s voices are heard. During this dynamic and inclusive roundtable discussion, three main speakers will provide their insights into effective ways to empower women’s voices. TechSoup will focus on the emotional cost for women to engage in online discussion and how bridging communication and cultural gaps can lead to increased understanding between (female) activists and (male) technical experts. RNW Media will follow up on the usage of inclusive content to engage more young women and using targeting techniques for women to take the lead in online conversations in combination with effective community moderation strategies. Finally, digital platform Huna Libya will present how these strategies play out in practice. Huna Libya has successfully implemented strategies to empower women’s voices in Libya, such as using gender inclusive language, and community moderation to motivate women to step into the public online sphere. 

Each speaker will present their strategies, approaches and practical solutions to empower women’s voices online for 8-10 minutes. Participants will be invited to comment and pose questions after the presentations end. The moderator will invite the speakers to respond directly but will also engage other participants to give their perspective as well. This helps ensure a good discussion flow. The moderator will ensure questions and perspectives from participants are included in the session’s discussion. After 30 minutes, the moderator will recapitulate the discussion with key take-aways from presentations and questions for further discussion between the speakers. The session will close with a synthesis of key take-aways and conclusions by the moderator.  

Expected Outcomes
  • This session will demonstrate different online and offline approaches to addressing the digital gender divide. It will broaden the perspective on getting women online and address the importance of a differentiated approach to engaging and encouraging young women to stay online. 

  • Through the sharing of best practices and input from the diverse speakers, the session will build the knowledge of internet governance thinkers and practitioners on the best strategies for engaging more young women in digital communities 

  • Suggestions on how to scale-up the approaches to address the digital gender divide will be shared by the speakers and the audience, which will lead to refining strategies, and inform (international) policy recommendations 

The proposed session is designed to be a dynamic and inclusive roundtable discussion of 60 minutes. Each speaker will present their strategies, approaches and practical solutions to digital inclusion for 8 minutes. Participants will be invited to comment and pose questions after the presentations. The moderator will invite the speaker to respond directly but will also engage other participants to give their perspective as well. This helps ensure a good discussion flow.  

We will ensure interactive online participation in the session. The moderator will ensure questions and perspectives from participants in the session’s discussion and that participants are given the floor equally to share their ideas. Online participation will be further increased through the use of digital tools such as Mentimeter, which allows for polling among  participants. This will feed into the discussion and ensure all views and opinions are represented. 

Quiet participants will be asked in a sensitive manner to give their views as well. This technique works with less outgoing people and proves to bring out key opinions. After 30 minutes, the moderator will recapitulate the discussion to ensure participants who streamed in can be included. This is also a key moment to poll the opinions of the participants, which will give new insights for further discussion. There will be another recap, with key take-aways and questions from the participants for further discussion at the end. 

Relevance to Internet Governance 

The new and innovative best practices for bridging the digital gender divide with a focus on young women and girls presented and discussed in this session contribute to the further development of programmes already addressing the digital gender divide. This will encourage other civil society organisations, companies and governments to move away from mainstream programmes by presenting them with new insights and best practices that can inform their strategies. This session stresses the need to go beyond the one-size-fits all approach, demonstrates existing tailored strategies and will explore possibilities for scaling up these initiatives. 

Relevance to Thematic Track

This session ties into the Inclusion theme as it addresses the need for a differentiated response to ensure equal access and participation of young women online and to guarantee their voices are heard online. To reach digital inclusion for young women around the world, policies and programmes need to respond to the local needs of communities and individuals. The session addresses ways in which we can move beyond a one-fits-all approach to ensure digital inclusion. Furthermore, the session format is inclusive. Our speakers represent various areas of work, geographical regions and organisations around the world, and young women will be represented as speakers. Also, we will ensure interactive online participation in the session to ensure that those people around the world that cannot be physically present at the meeting can participate equally. 

Online Participation

We will ensure interactive online participation in the session. The moderator will ensure questions and perspectives from participants in the session’s discussion and that participants are given the floor equally to share their ideas. Online participation will be further increased through the use of digital tools such as Mentimeter, which allows for polling among  participants. This will feed into the discussion and ensure all views and opinions are represented. 

Additional Tools proposed: With the use of Zoom, the online moderator will ensure questions and perspectives from remote participants are included in the session’s discussion and that remote participants are given the floor equally to share their ideas. Online participation will be further increased through the use of digital tools such as Mentimeter, which allows for polling among physical as well as remote participants. This will feed into the discussion and ensure all views and opinions are represented.

 

Agenda

The proposed workshop is a 60-minute roundtable discussion. The agenda is as follows: 

  1. Introduction in which each speaker will present their strategies, approaches and practical solutions to empower the voices of (young) women online (8-10 minutes per speaker) 

  1. Plenary Q&A after the presentations (5 minutes) 

  1. Recap of presentations by the moderator (5 minutes) 

  1. Continued discussion between moderator and speakers (10 minutes) 

  1. Synthesis of key take-aways and conclusions (5 minutes) 

1. Key Policy Questions and related issues
• Which existing inclusive strategies to tackle the digital gender divide and address women’s online engagement can be further developed to ensure the digital inclusion of young women in all their diversities?
• What can we do to ensure development policies (both offline and online) respond to the local needs of young women from the global south when implementing digital inclusion programmes?
• How can we bridge the gap between the technology sector and the activist world to ensure online civic engagement of women?
2. Summary of Issues Discussed
  • The “tech for good” debate is dominated by assumptions, which include activists as women who aren’t tech-savvy and lack safe spaces to learn about tech; and tech experts as men who lack the capacity to translate their knowledge to the world outside of their bubble. Encouraging safe communications between developers and users ensures bridging the gaps between both worlds. Listening more than talking is an effective way to ensure that activist and community’s needs are taken into consideration by tech providers. 
  • Inclusivity is key to enable young women and men to fully participate in social, economic and political life and bridge the digital gender gap. Inclusive online platforms can be a catalyst to fulfil this potential; combined with offline work to reach those not connected online.  
  • Inclusive teams (from all relevant socio-economic groups and genders in society) ensure that media coverage is inclusive; 
  • Inclusive content ensures a diversity of women’s voices are heard and gender norms are challenged, and men and boys are engaged to effectuate inclusive change;  
  • Inclusive media ensures low literate audiences are reached by making content as visual as possible (through videos, vlogs, podcasts); 
  • Inclusive tech makes sure platform users spend a minimum of data for maximum result, as data is a luxury in many countries; 
  • Inclusive partnerships with organizations who work offline ensures reaching women who are not connected online. 
  • SMART targeting can be a tool for gender inclusiveness. By making sure content is aimed specifically at women and reaches them first allows them to start the conversation and provides a safe space to do so, this can increase women’s engagement on online platforms significantly. These strategies can be used to include women, but also a range of intersectionalities such as race, ethnicity, socio-economic background etc. 
3. Key Takeaways
  • Strategies need to be tailored to the communities to encourage people, and women in particular, to peak in a male dominated world, which the online world is. 

  • Online and offline activities should be combined to build bridges between women and online communities.  

  • Women should be content creators to ensure more inclusive content. 

  • We need to put women at the centre to ensure digital inclusion programmes actually respond to their needs. 

6. Final Speakers

Speaker 1: Anna Kuliberda - Senior Advisor TechSoup  
Speaker 2: Reema Hamidan - Project Coordinator Huna Libya 
Speaker 3: Jahou Nyan - Programme Specialist RNW Media 

7. Reflection to Gender Issues
  • The bridge between male tech experts and female activists: Women are often assumed not to be tech-savvy and men would lack the capacity to translate their tech knowledge to the outside world.
  • The bridge between women and economic and political participation: To bridge the digital gender gap, inclusive online platforms can be used to fulfil the potential of participation in social, economic and political life. 
  • The bridge between online content and women: SMART targeting can be used to make sure content is aimed specifically at women and reaches them first allows them to start the conversation online.

 

8. Session Outputs
  • This session has demonstrated different approaches to addressing the digital gender divide. It has clearly addressed the importance of a differentiated approach to engaging and encouraging young women to stay online.  

  • The different speakers have outlined some best practices to build the knowledge of internet governance thinkers and practitioners on the best strategies for engaging more young women in digital communities  

9. Group Photo
IGF 2020 WS #147 Building digital bridges: engaging young women online
10. Voluntary Commitment

Reema Hamidan (Huna Libya): “Engaging more women in content creation on our platforms to increase gender inclusiveness for these spaces.” 

Jahou Nyan (RNW Media): “I am going to work hard to make sure by December 2021 we will improve the digital literacy skills of at least 100 young women between 15 and 30 years old who live and work in Sub-Saharan" 

Anna Kuliberda (TechSoup): “Digging deeper into understanding the community-oriented innovation culture and adjusting technology and innovation, so it can be more sustainable, and more people will be able to take advantage of the innovation.”