IGF 2023 WS #505 Community Radios & Networks empower women's digital rights


Digital Divides & Inclusion
Digital, Media, and Information Literacy
Gender Digital Divide

Organizer 1: Ritu Srivastava, Jadeite Solutions

Speaker 1: Sarbani Belur, Technical Community, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 2: Ressa Ria Lestari, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 3: Sai Sudha, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group


Sanjana Sharma, Technical Community, Asia-Pacific Group

Online Moderator

Ritu Srivastava, Technical Community, Asia-Pacific Group


Ritu Srivastava, Technical Community, Asia-Pacific Group


Break-out Group Discussions - 60 Min

Policy Question(s)

How can CRs and CNs be integrated into national digital inclusion strategies and policies?
How can regulations be designed to support women's participation and engagement while upholding principles of freedom of expression?
What steps can be taken to support these initiatives, ensuring their sustainability and scalability in strengthening women's digital rights?
What strategies and resources are needed to ensure that women have the necessary skills to fully engage with digital technologies and exercise their digital rights?
How CRs & CNs can collaborate with local authorities and decision-makers to advocate for gender-inclusive policies in remote areas?

What will participants gain from attending this session? 1. Participants will gain a deeper understanding of the unique challenges faced by women in remote areas regarding digital access, literacy, and rights.
2. Showcase successful community radio and community network initiatives that have effectively empowered women's digital rights in remote areas. Participants will learn about real-life examples and best practices implemented by these initiatives, gaining insights into their strategies, impact, and sustainability.
3. Learn about innovative methods employed by community radio and community network projects to provide digital literacy training, amplify women's voices, and advocate for their rights.
4. Participants will have the chance to connect with like-minded individuals, build networks, and explore potential collaborations to further their own initiatives or contribute to existing projects.


In the last mile where there is no internet connectivity and feeble mobile signal penetration, Community Radios serve as the medium of communication. However, with the advent of digitization and reliance on the internet for every activity, the need to enable connectivity in the last mile is very important. Community networks come to the rescue and are based on the needs of the people, adding value and relevance to the community. Yet setting up rural connectivity infrastructure is expensive and resource intensive. If CR stations transition into CNs, they can have significant implications for digital rights. While CR stations have long served as platforms for local voices and perspectives, CNs expand on this concept by creating decentralized and locally controlled digital infrastructures.
Moreover, across the globe, access to information and digital technologies remains limited, for women living in remote areas. This lack of connectivity hampers their ability to exercise their rights, participate in decision-making processes, and access essential services and opportunities.
The proposed session aims to establish the relationship between community radios as a medium to exercise freedom of expression and digital rights. The session will commence with an exploration of the challenges faced by women in remote areas regarding digital access, literacy, and rights. It will highlight the gender-specific barriers and discrimination that limit women's participation in the digital sphere. The session will aim at how women are using this technological infrastructure and spaces to voice their expressions and exercise their rights. The discussion will emphasize the importance of addressing these issues to foster gender equality and social inclusion. The session will look into four parameters of exercising digital rights and freedom of expression – 1) access to information, 2) privacy and security, 3) Freedom of expression, and 4) Digital literacy.

Expected Outcomes

Make policy recommendations aimed at promoting women's digital rights in remote areas. These recommendations may include specific measures to address connectivity gaps, enhance digital literacy programs, support community radio and networking initiatives, and integrate gender considerations into national digital inclusion strategies.
Foster collaboration among stakeholders. Participants, including representatives from governments, civil society organizations, community radio stations, and community network projects, can identify opportunities for collaboration, share resources and expertise, and explore joint initiatives to empower women's digital rights.
Participants will identify the need for further research and data collection efforts to inform evidence-based policymaking and measure the effectiveness of interventions.
Participants will gain a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by women in remote areas regarding digital access, literacy, and rights. They will be equipped with the knowledge and best practices from successful community radio and community network initiatives, enabling them to apply these insights in their respective contexts.

Hybrid Format: The session is designed in a hybrid format – having presence at the onsite and online participation. We will use virtual collaboration tools such as video conferencing platforms, chat rooms, or collaboration software like Slido that enable real-time interaction between onsite and online participants. We will also assign dedicated moderators or facilitators who can manage and coordinate the interaction between onsite and online participants. Online moderator will also monitor virtual chat rooms or question submission platforms, and relay questions, comments, or insights from online participants to the onsite speakers to ensure that the discussion remains inclusive and balanced.
Onsite moderator will ensure sufficient time is allocated for both onsite and online interactions. Consider the potential time delays in receiving and responding to questions or comments from remote participants, and structure the session accordingly to allow for inclusive participation from all attendees.