IGF 2023 WS #130 Multilingualism for inclusive & Diverse IG: Global South


Digital Divides & Inclusion
Digital, Media, and Information Literacy
Gender Digital Divide
Skills Building for Basic and Advanced Technologies (Meaningful Access)

Organizer 1: Sorene Assefa Shifa, 🔒
Organizer 2: Sam Hall, Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office
Organizer 3: Athanase Bahizire, ITU Generation Connect
Organizer 4: Marjorie Mudi Gege, Emerge Africa

Speaker 1: ABRAHAM SELBY, Technical Community, African Group
Speaker 2: Sam Hall, Government, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Saba Tiku Beyene, Intergovernmental Organization, African Group
Speaker 4: Bibek Silwal, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 5: Karla Giovanna Braga, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)


Sorene Assefa Shifa, Technical Community, African Group

Online Moderator

Athanase Bahizire, Technical Community, African Group


Marjorie Mudi Gege, Civil Society, African Group


Round Table - 60 Min

Policy Question(s)

1. How can multilingualism foster a diverse and inclusive Internet governance ecosystem? What challenges impede the implementation of multilingualism and local content development in the Global South? Any policy recommendations? 2. How can meaningful partnerships be established between NRIs, youth forums, and other stakeholders to effectively address the gaps in multilingualism and local content development? How can these partnerships ensure inclusivity for under-served populations such as women, children, indigenous communities, and the elderly? 3. What are the most effective practices for developing and promoting local digital content? Can you provide practical case studies as examples?

What will participants gain from attending this session? The session aims to: 1. Provide Global South Perspective: Gain insights into issues, challenges, and innovative solutions related to multilingualism and local content implementation, with a particular focus on the Global South. 2. Networking and Communication: Facilitate networking and collaboration among youth and stakeholders from diverse linguistic backgrounds, fostering connections and partnerships across stakeholders. 3. Share Practical Solutions: Exchange practical solutions, best practices, and case studies that promote multilingualism and local content creation in Internet governance. This includes sharing policy recommendations, frameworks, and successful approaches. 4. Amplify Youth Voices: Emphasize the importance of including youth voices in these crucial discussions and promoting their active involvement in shaping the future of the internet. By addressing these objectives, the session seeks to contribute to an inclusive and empowered digital society, where multilingualism and local content are recognized as essential components for fostering equitable access and participation.


With the Internet's growing global reach, there’s an escalating demand for Internet governance policies and practices that embrace linguistic diversity. The WSIS (2017) report highlights the significance of linguistic diversity in Internet governance. It emphasizes that multilingualism is crucial for promoting inclusivity, encouraging participation, preserving cultural heritage, and fostering innovation and ensuring diverse perspectives in Internet governance policies. Despite the substantial advantages offered by digital technologies, the absence of access and digital skills creates significant disadvantages for numerous individuals. According to the ITU, around half of the global population remains unconnected, with certain regions experiencing unreliable, and expensive connectivity. Further, in many developing countries, the digital gender gap is widening, with men representing 62% of global Internet users in 2022. The African region, in particular, experiences the most significant digital gender gap worldwide. Moreover, online content is frequently limited to a handful of languages, further exacerbating the issue. Women, children, older individuals, people with disabilities, rural populations, and indigenous communities are particularly impacted by these online inequities. The globalization of the internet has made the need for multilingualism in internet governance more pressing. According to the Internet Society, although English has been the dominant language of the Internet, the number of non-English speakers online is rapidly growing. This highlights the necessity for Internet governance policies and practices that can accommodate linguistic diversity (Internet Society, 2021). This session examines the significance of multilingualism in shaping the Internet We Want and empowering all People. It’s in line with the overarching theme of the 18th IGF and addresses policy issues pertinent to the Global South. Practical implementations from the Global South, like the Pan-African Youth Ambassadors for Internet Governance (PAYAIG) initiative, will be showcased. It’s also a platform for diverse youth to engage in discussions about multilingualism and the creation of local content.

Expected Outcomes

1. Raise awareness about the importance of multilingualism in internet governance, particularly in the Global South, and its potential for fostering inclusivity and diversity. 2. Identify and address barriers that hinder the implementation of multilingualism in Internet governance. 3. Develop policy recommendations and best practices to promote multilingualism in internet governance, with a specific focus on facilitating youth engagement. 4. Enhance the participation of youth from the Global South in internet governance dialogues and decision-making processes. The meeting outcomes will be shared with relevant working groups, including PNMA MWG, and integrated into the ongoing Pan-African Youth Ambassadors (PAYAIG) initiative. This integration ensures that the valuable insights from the session contribute to the progress and goals of the initiative. It will also facilitate knowledge sharing, idea exchange, and the implementation of actions to empower youth from the Global South in shaping internet governance and promoting multilingualism, inclusivity, and diversity.

Hybrid Format: To ensure a successful session, dedicated in-person and online moderators will collaborate to facilitate seamless participation for both online and in-person attendees, ensuring equal opportunities for contributions from both audiences. The rapporteur will document all contributions from online and onsite participants for the final session report. Additionally, prior to IGF 2023, an online test run will be conducted on Zoom, involving the organizing team, speakers, moderators, and rapporteurs. The session will start with the moderators introducing both the onsite and online speakers. Each speaker will have 5 minutes for introductory remarks, followed by a 20-minute moderated discussion on policy questions. A total of 10 minutes will be allocated for questions from both in-person and online participants. Finally, there will be a 5-minute wrap-up by the moderators. We will utilize Menti (https://www.menti.com) to actively engage the audience.