Cross-border Data Flows and Trust
Data Localization, Data Residency, and Data Sovereignty
Data Privacy and Protection
Round Table - 90 Min
With the AU’s Digital Transformation Strategy (DTS) and Continental Data Policy Framework (DPF) enabling countries to harness the potential of data as a strategic asset, realising women’s interests, demands, and roles in these processes is crucial. Yet a persistent digital gender gap is preventing African women from meaningfully participating in and benefiting from the rapidly digitising global economy and putting them at risk of being left further behind. The opportunities that datafication might introduce for the continent are therefore vastly unequal, and might exacerbate rather than alleviate gender inequality if not addressed. To counter these inequalities, harmonised and gender-transformative efforts need to address the unique challenges that women, girls and gendered communities face in digital spaces, while also ensuring a better understanding of women’s respective roles and needs in leading Africa’s digital transformation journey. By shaping a feminist approach to the importance of facilitating gender-sensitive implementation of digital strategies for equal participation, including by addressing the paucity of disaggregated data to indicate women’s lived experiences in data environments, this session hopes to contribute to the discussion of how to promote a more equitable approach to Africa’s digital future, for all Africans. This interactive multistakeholder session brings together leading female experts from the public and private sector, civil society, academia and the international development community to discuss pathways towards shifting power imbalances and adapting gender-transformative strategies that ensure the inclusion of women’s perspectives for driving smarter and more equitable policies while promoting Africa’s journey towards a more inclusive digital transformation agenda. The session will engage with diverse stakeholders, who are all women of influence in their various sectors, to deliberate on the opportunity that processes of datafication and digitalisation present for gender mainstreaming and gender transformation on the African continent. They will achieve this by: - Showcasing the role that they are playing (as women) leading Africa’s digital transformation journey. - Examining the opportunities for gender mainstreaming in the implementation of the AU Data Policy Framework as well as its Digital Transformation Strategy. - Exploring and sharing opportunities to increase the participation of women in digital policymaking. - Reflecting on the benefits of and need for disaggregated data to improve the lived experiences of women in Africa as well as the relevance of gendered data to decision-making. - Highlighting interventions which would strengthen the gender transformative promise of data and datafication.
To facilitate suitable alignment between hybrid attendance and onsite participation, the moderators will be reminded before the session of the importance of providing sufficient space for online participants to participate, to make comments and/or ask questions, before opening the floor to onsite participants, who have an advantage by being in the room. Panelists will participate both online and onsite in order to set the scene for hybrid participation. The online moderator will also make use of the chat function to engage with participants. Before starting the session, all participants will be reminded of the rules of engagement - of the need to have respect for other participants’ views while adhering to the IGF’s code of conduct.
Session Organizer: African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD)
Moderation: Dr Towela Nyirenda-Jere, Principal Programme Officer, Economic Integration Division, African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD)
- Alice Munyua, Mozilla Foundation, Senior Director (CSO)
- Pren-Tsilya Boa-Guehe, Google Africa, Government Affairs & Public Policy Manager for African Institutions (Private Sector)
- Bonnita Nyamwire, Pollicy, Co-Director Research (CSO)
- Dr. Nnenna Ifeanyi-Ajufo, Network of African Women In Cybersecurity, Board Member (Academia)
- Ganna Ayman, Pan-African Youth Ambassadors for Internet Governance (PAYAIG)
Dr Towela Nyirenda-Jere (AUDA-NEPAD)
Fabiola Frick (GIZ)
Fabiola Frick, Policy Advisor, DataCipation, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
1. No Poverty
4. Quality Education
5. Gender Equality
8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
10. Reduced Inequalities
16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
17. Partnerships for the Goals
Targets: Digitalisation and datafication processes act as cross-cutting mechanisms for enabling the SDGs, and the proposal is thus relevant to most if not all the goals. Given the growing importance of digital transformation and data to economies and societies worldwide, the proposal aims to explore the ways in which data governance can support the realisation of all of the SDGs. It does so particularly in the context of SDG5, by examining the nexus of digital transformation and the promotion of gender equality to strengthen women’s social and economic empowerment. Despite being focused on Africa, the proposal is equally relevant to the need to address gendered inequalities within communities as well as globally and relates to other sectors and thus goals.
It might have become progressively easier for women to participate meaningfully in policymaking related to digitisation (including Internet governance) over the past twenty years, but there are still barriers to overcome and to address in order to make women’s voices heard and needs met in a comprehensive and not tokenistic manner.
There is a need for diversifying and deepening conversations, perspectives, terminology, and research about feminist priorities in the Internet space in order to move beyond a common focus on challenges pertaining to online gender-based violence and related issues, to broader dimensions that shape socio-digital inequalities that continue to impact women’s experiences in Africa.
Invest in developing more meaningfully and diverse research and advocacy agendas pertaining to women and feminist that extend beyond online gender-based violence.
Stakeholders are encouraged to continue investing in capacity-building for African women. Women who are currently actively engaging in digital policymaking and Internet governance platforms should continue to actively open up spaces for new and young women leaders who can actively participate in these conversations and discussions in the future.
Session Summary Report
As part of the 2023 UN Internet Governance Forum, held in Kyoto, Japan from October 9th to October 12, the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) organized an open forum on Whose Internet? Towards a Feminist Digital Future for Africa, on October 12. The session invited experts from the digital and policy sector to a panel discussion on opportunities and challenges faced by women, working in Africa’s digital economy and their role in shaping Africa’s digital transformation.
The session was hosted and moderated by Dr Towela Nyirenda-Jere of AUDA-NEPAD’s Economic Integration Division, supported by Alice Munyua, the Senior Director for Africa Mradi at Mozilla Corporation on-site.
Alice Munyua from Mozilla Corporation and Liz Orembo from Research ICT Africa (RIA) opened the discussion by sharing powerful personal testimonies, illustrating their experiences as women and female leaders in Africa’s digital sphere. Their reports highlighted the (mis)perception of female expertise and importance of female role models in digital spaces. Building on their reports, Bonnita Nyamwire from Pollicy and Dr. Nnenna Ifeanyi-Ajufo, Professor of Technology Law, shared and discussed research findings on threats of online gender-based violence, barriers faced by women in Africa’s digital economy and learnings on good practices and policy implications for ensuring safe digital spaces and socio-digital equality for women on the continent. Dr. Tobias Thiel from GIZ concluded the discussion by emphasizing Germany’s commitment towards feminist development policies and its continuous efforts to eliminate discriminatory structures for women, girls, and marginalized groups within the African Digitalization and Data sphere. All panelists highlighted the barriers women remain to face when working in digital sectors and emphasized the need to leverage women’s opportunities and participation to ensure an inclusive African Digital Transformation.
Participants off- and online actively engaged in the discussion and emphasized panelists’ statements by sharing their own experiences as leading female experts in the field. The interactive discussion underlined the importance of creating safe spaces and called for policymakers to ensure the inclusion of female voices in shaping policies that ensure a fair and just digital transformation in Africa.
Panelists and the audience called for investing in developing more meaningfully and diverse research and advocacy agendas pertaining to women and feminist that extend beyond online gender-based violence. Panelists and audience also encouraged stakeholders to continue investing in capacity-building for African women. Women who are currently actively engaging in digital policymaking and Internet governance platforms should continue to actively open up spaces for new and young women leaders who can actively participate in these conversations and discussions in the future. Finally, the panel-discussion called on every person to consider their own unique commitment towards advocating for advancing socio-digital equality for women on the continent and beyond and take tangible steps towards realizing these goals.
In conclusion, the session identified several key takeaways from the panel discussion and subsequent round of contributions from the audience: While it might have become progressively easier for women to participate meaningfully in policymaking related to digitalization (including Internet governance) over the past twenty years, there are still many barriers to overcome and to address in order to make women’s voices heard and needs met in a comprehensive and not tokenistic manner. In addition, the discussion identified a need for diversifying and deepening conversations, perspectives, terminology, and research about feminist priorities in the Internet space in order to move beyond a common focus on challenges pertaining to online gender-based violence and related issues, to broader dimensions that shape socio-digital inequalities that continue to impact women’s experiences in Africa.