¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) brings people from various stakeholder groups together in discussions on public policy issues relating to the Internet. While there is no negotiated outcome from IGF meetings, the IGF informs and inspires those with policymaking power in both public and private sectors. At the IGF’s annual meeting delegates discuss, exchange information and share good practices with each other. The IGF therefore helps to facilitate a common understanding of how to maximise Internet opportunities and address risks and challenges that may arise.
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 In 2011 a report was produced by the UN General Assembly Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Working Group on Improvements to the IGF, which called for the development of more tangible outputs to ‘enhance the impact of the IGF on global Internet governance and policy’. To enrich the potential for IGF outputs, the IGF Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG) developed an intersessional programme intended to complement other IGF activities, such as regional and national IGF initiatives, dynamic coalitions and best practice forums (BPFs). The outputs from this programme are designed to become robust resources, to serve as inputs into other pertinent forums, and to evolve and grow over time.
¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 BPFs, more specifically, offer substantive ways for the IGF to produce more concrete outcomes. While BPF outcome documents have already been useful in informing policy debates, they are also iterative materials that are not only flexible but ‘living’ in the sense that they can be updated at any time to accommodate the pace of technological change faced by Internet policymakers. BPFs have the freedom to define their own methodologies; tailored to each theme’s specific needs and requirements. As decided in a general feedback session during IGF 2014, the term ‘best’ in BPF should be interpreted lightly because the topics of BPFs often relate to themes that need to be addressed in a flexible manner in order to accommodate the pace of technological change.
¶ 4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 In May 2016 at the first open consultations and MAG meeting of the IGF in Geneva, Switzerland, input was gathered and feedback was given on the progress and outputs of the 2015 BPFs, including the 2015 BPF on online abuse and gender-based violence against women. At this meeting the need was stressed for continuing to dedicate an intersessional community effort to the study of gender-related challenges where the Internet is concerned. It was furthermore agreed that the BPF Gender’s focus in 2016 would primarily be women and (Internet) access.
¶ 5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 As in 2015, the BPF provided an open and inclusive multistakeholder platform for the exchange of information relevant to the Internet and gender. For 2016, the BPF community decided to specifically dedicate the work of the BPF in 2016 to women’s meaningful access to the Internet (or to addressing gender digital divides).
¶ 6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 In December 2015, the outcome document of the high-level meeting of the UNGA on the overall review of the implementation of the outcomes of the WSIS not only encouraged stakeholders to ensure ‘the full participation of women in the information society and women’s access to new technologies’ but also stressed the need for:
¶ 7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 …immediate measures to achieve gender equality in Internet users by 2020, especially by significantly enhancing women’s and girls’ education and participation in information and communications technologies, as users, content creators, employees, entrepreneurs, innovators and leaders.
¶ 8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 Women’s access to the Internet is directly related to UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and in particular SDG 5, which focuses on achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls; as well as goal 9c, which sets a target for universal access to ICTs by 2013. One of the targets of SDG 5 is furthermore to enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular ICT, to promote the empowerment of women (target 5.b). The BPF’s theme for 2016 also relates closely to the IGF’s overall theme, namely Enabling Inclusive and Sustainable Growth.
¶ 9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 The BPF community furthermore also decided to, as a continued task, build on and improve the outcomes of the 2015 BPF Gender: Online Abuse and Gender-Based Violence Against Women. As this priority is relevant to the issue of enabling women’s access to the Internet, it was agreed to study it as a part of the work in 2016.
¶ 10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 The ways in which the BPF’s primary mandate was further delineated, as well as the variety of methods used to meet the mandate, are discussed in the next section.
¶ 11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 As mentioned in the preceding section, the BPF community identified two distinct objectives for its work in 2016, namely to raise awareness of its outcome document produced in 2015 and to study certain aspects of relevance to gender and access. The methodologies adopted for these distinct objectives are discussed separately in this section.
¶ 12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 To help raise awareness and repackage the outcome document from the BPF in 2015 in a more digestible format, the BPF community extracted recommendations from the 2015 report and summarised them in a roadmap format on Google docs. The BPF’s mailing list and a virtual meeting (see Section 10.2 below for a description of these methods) were used to gather stakeholder input on these recommendations, whereafter two volunteers used the content and redesigned it into an infographic format to be shared with the community using the IGF’s website, Twitter account and mailing lists. This infographic can be found in Part A Section 4.4 above.
10.2.1 Scope of work
¶ 13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 1 Various efforts have been launched in recent months and years to address connectivity challenges and to ensure that more people are able to benefit from Internet access – including diverse initiatives at intergovernmental, governmental, private sector, academic and research institutions, technical community, and at civil society level. A few examples include the efforts of the ITU and UNESCO’s Broadband Commission; the World Economic Forum’s Internet for All initiative; the US State Department’s Global Connect initiative; various efforts of governments in supporting public access facilities, for instance; the efforts of civil society organizations and research institutions such as the APC, A4AI, the Web Foundation, LIRNEasia and Research ICT Africa in researching in raising awareness of diverse challenges pertaining to access, and private sector responses like that of the GSMA’s Mobile for Development and Facebook’s Internet.org.
¶ 14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 Fewer initiatives address specifically the need to promote women’s meaningful access to the Internet, although the number of initiatives focused on this challenge has grown recently. The Broadband Commission, for instance, launched a Working Group on the theme in 2016 (the group’s efforts follow from its 2013 report on the theme); the ITU launched its Equals initiative in September 2016, and various civil society organizations (e.g. A4AI, APC, Web Foundation), research institutions (e.g. Research ICT Africa, LIRNEasia) and other commercial stakeholders (e.g. GSMA, Intel) have published research on related challenges; while there are also a number of innovative initiatives at local and national levels that address various barriers to women’s access.
¶ 15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 In acknowledging and supporting the work that many stakeholders have already done and are doing to research, support and help encourage women’s meaningful access, including the positive contributions and achievements already made, the BPF provided a neutral forum where a compendium of effective practices were gathered, with due recognition and attribution given to relevant stakeholders and participants for the work that has already been done in addressing and investigating the challenge. The BPF therefore took due cognizance of various other initiatives currently ongoing to address women’s ability to access and benefit from the Internet, with the aim of contributing to the debate in a useful manner that avoids a duplication of efforts.
¶ 16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 For its work in 2016, BPF participants decided as a community to focus on certain aspects related to the problem of promoting women’s meaningful access, including the particular barriers women face in both accessing and benefiting from the Internet and, secondly, the ways in which communities are addressing connectivity challenges for particularly women. The BPF thus aimed to adopt primarily demand-side approach to connectivity problems for women.
¶ 17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0 As in 2015, the BPF’s goal in 2016 was not to negotiate text but to collect practices that might help women to participate meaningfully in the development of an inclusive and people-centred information society.
10.2.2 Working approach
¶ 18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0 Two MAG members volunteered to help coordinate the BPF, and the IGF Secretariat appointed a rapporteur to assist the BPF in coordinating, organizing and reporting on the BPF’s work. The BPF coordinators and rapporteur thereafter adopted a semi-structured methodology by organizing fortnightly virtual calls in order to introduce the topic to participants, to welcome broader participation, to define the scope of the BPF, and to investigate a proposed methodology.
¶ 19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 The BPF’s work built on its efforts in and outcomes from 2015 and also assumed a similar approach than the one it used in 2015, especially where the general process and methodology was concerned. This included the frequent use of the BPF’s mailing list, fortnightly virtual meetings, and the use of a survey. In 2016, furthermore, the BPF also adopted an additional measure to promote stakeholder engagement by participating directly at national and regional IGF initiatives (NRIs), as is discussed in more detail below.
¶ 20 Leave a comment on paragraph 20 0 As in 2015, the BPF emphasised the importance of engaging stakeholders from diverse fields in the BPF’s work in order to have vibrant discussions informed by multiple perspectives. At the beginning of the BPF’s work an easy-to-understand guide for newcomers to the IGF and BPF process, including a series of frequently asked questions, was drafted and published on the BPF’s website and shared on the BPF’s mailing list (see Appendix 2). A list of the stakeholders who participated in the BPF’s work – whether through survey responses, attending meetings, submitting other documents, commenting on draft reports, or participating on the mailing list by sharing information – is furthermore cited in Appendix 1.
¶ 22 Leave a comment on paragraph 22 0 Shortly after IGF’s multistakeholder advisory group (MAG) decided that the BPF Gender would continue in 2016 and focus on women and access, a dedicated and open mailing list was created by the IGF Secretariat, and details for joining the mailing list were published on the IGF’s website. Frequent BPF status updates were also sent to the intersessional and BPF mailing list with calls for input and/ or other relevant information.
¶ 24 Leave a comment on paragraph 24 0 Fortnightly meetings were scheduled, and after each meeting a meeting summary was distributed on the IGF’s intersessional and BPF’s mailing lists as well as being published on the BPF’s dedicated platform on the IGF’s website (all meeting summaries are on the IGF’s website). In total, 13 fortnightly working virtual calls were held by the BPF in 2016.
¶ 26 Leave a comment on paragraph 26 0 When necessary, for instance in gathering local stories on barriers to access, the BPF made use of open, editable online platforms like Google Docs and Google Sheets. To facilitate the involvement of participants from regions that do not allow access to Google, documents were also made available in original MS Word format on the mailing lists.
- ¶ 28 Leave a comment on paragraph 28 0
- Draft I was open for public comment for 24 days (1 to 25 November 2016);
- Draft II is currently open (to be finalised post-IGF).
¶ 29 Leave a comment on paragraph 29 0 Stakeholders were encouraged to comment on the review platform using the BPF’s mailing list, a variety of other mailing lists, as well as the IGF’s Twitter account. Contributors were reminded that while all comments would be public, pseudonyms could also be used.
¶ 30 Leave a comment on paragraph 30 0 For the sake of transparency, all comments and input received on the IGF’s review platform are contained in Appendix 4, along with a detailed description of what action(s) were taken to address each and every comment received on the review platform.
¶ 32 Leave a comment on paragraph 32 0 The BPF arranged onsite meetings at certain national and regional IGF initiatives, including Brazil IGF, APrIGF, and LAC IGF, as well as at other relevant workshops. This participation includes:
- ¶ 33 Leave a comment on paragraph 33 0
- ISOC/ APC Workshop on Mainstreaming Gender in Internet and Development in the Asia-Pacific Region, 2 to 3 October 2016 (led by Jac SM Kee) (in-person in Bangkok, Thailand).
- informal meet-up at the IGF of Latin America and the Caribbean (LACIGF), 29 July 2016 (led by Renata Aquino Ribeiro) (in-person in San Jose, Costa Rica, and online).
- participation during gender & access session at the Asia Pacific Regional IGF (APrIGF), 29 July 2016 (led by Jac SM Kee) (in-person in Taipei, Taiwan, and online).
- unconference session at the Brazil IGF, 12 July 2016 (led by Renata Aquino Ribeiro) (in-person in Porto Alegre, and online).
¶ 34 Leave a comment on paragraph 34 1 These sessions were used to gather local best practices and raise awareness of the BPF’s work. Where possible, lessons and stories gathered from these events are incorporated in Part A of this document.
¶ 36 Leave a comment on paragraph 36 0 A group of young Latin American women from the Youth Observatory collaborated to create a substantive 12-page submission, Enabling access to empower young women and build a feminist Internet Governance. As a part of this submission, stories were collected describing the experiences of some young women in Latin America where access is concerned, and other recommendations were made.
¶ 37 Leave a comment on paragraph 37 0 According to the contribution, the group submitted the contribution in order to: ‘present our views and perspectives on the present Internet and also to appeal for an inclusive work that reflects not only about women, but also includes our perspectives not only as native and active participants of the Internet, involved in Internet governance and interested in fighting for a free and open Internet for everyone.’
¶ 38 Leave a comment on paragraph 38 0 In addition to the Declaration, various participants also submitted information or case studies about particular initiatives that aim to address barriers to women’s access and use of the Internet (see the survey section, v below for more details in this regard). Summaries of these case studies are contained in Appendix 5, and will be incorporated into Draft III once all the case studies have been received from volunteers.
¶ 39 Leave a comment on paragraph 39 0 Note that where possible, the stories and recommendations in the Declaration and from the initiative case studies are summarised in relevant sections of Part A of this document.
¶ 41 Leave a comment on paragraph 41 0 To gather more input on some of the substantial questions that the BPF aimed to address, a survey was designed and published on Google Forms (see Appendix 3 for the survey contents and analysis). Where relevant, survey responses were also integrated directly into Part A of this report.
¶ 43 Leave a comment on paragraph 43 0 Survey questions were drafted and refined in consultation with the BPF community after discussions on the BPF mailing list and during virtual meetings dedicated to planning the survey and doing pilot testing.
- ¶ 45 Leave a comment on paragraph 45 0
- investigate barriers and gather local stories/examples on the prevalence of barriers;
- map existing initiatives and/or reports of relevance to women’s access to the Internet.
¶ 46 Leave a comment on paragraph 46 0 Because the target audience of the survey was not defined and invitations to complete the survey would be sent to both experts in the field and general Internet users, the survey provided relevant background, context and descriptions where perceived necessary. To encourage broader stakeholder participation, the survey was also kept relatively short, with a combination of close-ended categorical and open-ended questions; the latter providing the opportunity for lengthy, substantive responses.
¶ 47 Leave a comment on paragraph 47 0 Responses were elicited over a period of two months by calls on the mailing list, social media (including tweets from the IGF’s Twitter account), during participatory sessions at national and regional IGF initiatives’ events, and emailed invitations to various mailing lists (including mailing lists within the Internet governance, academic and broader community).
¶ 48 Leave a comment on paragraph 48 0 Participants were able to make submissions anonymously and/or using pseudonyms, and were notified that no personal information would be shared with third parties without their explicit consent.
¶ 50 Leave a comment on paragraph 50 0 The survey analysis was conducted with the goal of gathering stakeholder perceptions, comments and information on existing literature regarding the BPF’s topic. The analysis was done to highlight existing work and to consolidate and identify common concerns and issues pertaining to barriers for further study and for incorporation into the main outcome document where relevant.
¶ 51 Leave a comment on paragraph 51 0 Due to the number of substantive responses for open-ended questions, many interesting comments and/or quotations were also highlighted for inclusion in the main outcome document. Note that these responses are generally verbatim in the main document, although minor editing was sometimes done to fix minor spelling and grammar errors. The meaning of the content was not, however, altered.
¶ 53 Leave a comment on paragraph 53 0 A total number of 76 responses were collected, with the largest proportion of responses submitted by respondents who identified themselves as part of the civil society stakeholder group (43.4%), followed by academia and research organisations (25%), the technical community (12%), and government stakeholders (10.5%). The smallest number from the intergovernmental organisations (2.6%). It should be noted, however, that the identified stakeholder groups were not necessarily mutually exclusive. Of these stakeholders, 58 respondents also identified their organizations, which varied between civil society organizations, universities, news organizations, regional IGF initiatives, government departments, and intergovernmental organizations, etc.
¶ 54 Leave a comment on paragraph 54 0 The survey attracted responses from a rich diversity of regions, particularly from developing countries. All of the respondents identified their countries. A significant proportion of respondents were from South America (37%), 21% were from Africa, 9% from Europe and Asia respectively, and 16% from Central and North America.
¶ 55 Leave a comment on paragraph 55 0 Within these regions, a substantial number of countries were also represented. From the South America region, for instance, survey responses were received from Brazil, Guyana, Ecuador, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela, and Paraguay. From the Africa region, in turn, responses were received from Ghana, Mauritius, Tanzania, South Africa, Tunisia, Chad, Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
¶ 56 Leave a comment on paragraph 56 0 Note that this sample is by no means, nor does it purport to be, representative of any population. As the aim of the survey was rather to gather a broad and diverse sample of input, this aspect about the sample was not considered as important.
¶ 59 Leave a comment on paragraph 59 0 One of the priorities of the BPF’s work for 2016 was to gain a better understanding of the barriers that affect whether women can access and benefit from the Internet.
¶ 60 Leave a comment on paragraph 60 0 The survey therefore asked participants to what extent they agreed that women and men have equal opportunities to use and benefit from the Internet. Approximately 30% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, 50% disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement, and 20% of respondents neither agreed nor disagreed.
¶ 61 Leave a comment on paragraph 61 0 A list of barriers (with examples) that may be preventing women from accessing and benefitting from the Internet was furthermore listed by the survey designers. This list was extracted from other literature and based on survey designers’ perception and experience pertaining to the barriers that might be important in preventing women from accessing and benefitting from the Internet (as is explained in more detail in Part A Section 4 above).
¶ 62 Leave a comment on paragraph 62 0 Respondents were asked to select the barriers they thought relevant (they could select more than one, and an ‘Other’ option was also provided). The effect of culture and norms as a barrier preventing women from accessing and benefitting from the Internet was most frequently selected by participants (71% of participants selected it as a barrier). Other important barriers were affordability (67%), women’s ability to participate in decision-making roles pertaining to the Internet and technology sector (65.3%), lack of capacity and skills (60%) and the availability of relevant policies (59%). Availability of relevant infrastructure was also important (48% of participants selected it as a barrier); as was the availability of relevant content and applications (41%).
¶ 63 Leave a comment on paragraph 63 0 The next question, which was answered by 55 responses, was an open-ended question requesting respondents to provide a brief explanation of their response to the preceding question on barriers in order to help the BPF to understand the context of each response better. The question also specifically asked for examples of barriers.
¶ 64 Leave a comment on paragraph 64 0 To ensure a balanced analysis of the responses to this open-ended question, responses were copied to a Google document and discussed during a virtual meeting of the BPF. All participants were invited to participate by coding the responses with the barrier(s) they though a response related to (if any) (the list of aforementioned barriers was used for this purpose). They were also invited to make a note if they thought a barrier was mentioned that was not in the aforesaid list. The findings from these explanations are described in more detail in Part A of this paper.
¶ 66 Leave a comment on paragraph 66 0 In one of the first meetings the BPF held, it was noted that there is a need to map existing initiatives aimed at addressing women’s ability to meaningfully access the Internet at not just a global level, but also at local, national and regional levels.
¶ 67 Leave a comment on paragraph 67 0 For this reason, the survey also asked respondents to list examples of existing initiatives by requesting a short description of the initiative as well as details pertaining to:
- ¶ 68 Leave a comment on paragraph 68 0
- the name of the initiative,
- the responsible person(s) or organization,
- when the initiative was launched,
- where more information pertaining to the initiative can be found,
- what country or region the initiative is focused on,
- whether the initiative is national, regional or global in its operation,
- to what extent the initiative reflects a gender dimension (i.e. whether the initiative is gender-blind (no mention of gender), gender-focused (it contains a strong focus on gender), or contains a partial dimension of gender (i.e. gender is not the main theme, but it is mentioned)).
¶ 69 Leave a comment on paragraph 69 0 Provision was also made for contributors to make more than one submission. All of the submissions were compiled in a Google document and shared with the BPF community during a series of virtual meetings. BPF volunteers subsequently helped to provide summaries of each initiative using criteria like what barrier(s) the initiative tries to address, how it works, what region it focuses on and who is responsible for. These summaries were subsequently organized according to the barriers they try to address, and can be found in Part A of this paper.
¶ 71 Leave a comment on paragraph 71 0 To enable a deeper understanding of the initiatives identified, at least one initiative per barrier were selected based on a set of selection criteria agreed upon by the group, including diversity of barrier(s) the initiative aims to address, stakeholder diversity, regional diversity, focus on some aspect of gender, developed/ developing, sub/regional representation. Where possible, last-mile initiatives were highlighted, along with initiatives led by women.
- ¶ 73 Leave a comment on paragraph 73 0
- What specific gender-related barrier(s) did this initiative aim to address? If the initiative is not targeted specifically to women/girls, how did it address gender-specificity in terms of identifying, analysing and responding to barriers?
- How did this initiative aim to address this barrier(s)?
- Did the initiative face any challenges or push-back, also at societal, governmental, or individual level?
- Is the initiative able to identify any lessons for other initiatives?
¶ 74 Leave a comment on paragraph 74 0 Summaries of these case studies are contained in Appendix 5, and will be incorporated into Draft III once all the case studies have been received from volunteers.
[To be populated after IGF 2016 at Guadalajara, Mexico, on 7 December 2016]
¶ 76 Leave a comment on paragraph 76 0  UN General Assembly Economic and Social Council (15 March 2012). Report of the Working Group on Improvements to the Internet Governance Forum (A/67/65–E/2012/48). Available online: http://unctad.org/meetings/en/SessionalDocuments/a67d65_en.pdf. [Accessed 5 October 2016].
¶ 78 Leave a comment on paragraph 78 0  ‘Intersessional activities’ at the IGF refer to activities that take place throughout the year, and that thus continue in the period between annual IGF meetings. See ‘background’ below for more information on such IGF outputs.
¶ 79 Leave a comment on paragraph 79 0  UN (2015). Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 25 September 2015: Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (A/Res/70/1). (2015, October 21). Available online: http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/70/1&Lang=E. [Accessed 12 October 2016]
¶ 84 Leave a comment on paragraph 84 0  Submission to IGF BPF 2016. Young Latin American Women Declaration (2016). Enabling access to empower young women and build a feminist Internet Governance. Available: http://www.intgovforum.org/multilingual/index.php?q=filedepot_download/3406/161. [Accessed 26 October 2016].