Framing access and power at Stockholm Internet Forum 2017

The Stockholm Internet Forum 2017 focused their discussions on the links between access and power. In this article Shaikh Rafia Sarwar examines how access is linked to women's empowerment and particularly their economic empowerment. And whether the debate around access should focus on economic, cultural and social empowerment of women through and outside technology, rather than ensuring access to devices and internet via civil society projects.

Photo taken by author at SIF 2017

Hundreds of activists, advocates, journalists, researchers, donors, and just about everyone else converged into the second-largest archipelago in the Baltic Sea – the city of Stockholm – to discuss powe“r and access online. 10PM sun aside, this year’s Stockholm Internet Forum (#SIF17) for easy tracking of the event on Twitter) was stronger than ever before and saw its participants and panelists talk about some real hard and somewhat depressing questions.

[COLUMN] Access and Beyond: Navigating mobile costs in communication

Africa is flooded with zero rating services such as Free Basics (Facebook’s zero rating scheme) and other subsidised data strategies. Do these schemes make internet more affordable and bring access to more people? In this column Chenai Chair examines whether ordinary people perceive such schemes as useful.

Photograph by Omaranabulsi under CC BY-SA 3.0 license


[COLUMN] How women in the global south are RECLAIMING SOCIAL MEDIA to combat femicide

In this new column on reclaiming social media for addressing women's issues and feminist concerns, Samukelisiwe Mabaso begins by looking at the rising rates of femicide in South Africa (and other parts of the world). Various spontaneous movements led and powered by women have arisen and use technology and social media to amplify their voices and ensure their demands are met.

In May 2017, countless South African women took to Twitter and Facebook to share their harrowing experiences of abuse under the hashtag #MenAreTrash. The outpour of tweets and Facebook posts was sparked by the murder of Karabo Mokoena, a 22-year-old woman who was allegedly killed and burned by her boyfriend. Although the wording of #MenAreTrash has caused controversy, that will not be the focal point of this column.

Tackling the gender digital divide in Africa

The coming of the digital age and of information technology promises that those 'left out' or excluded from development will be to access their rights and enjoy a higher standard of living. But what is the truth for African women - are the experiences of all 'marginal' women being lumped together and how far away is the promise of equal access and gender equity.

Republished from author’s blog Koliwe Majama

The emergence of the internet is touted as an opportunity for women in Africa to ‘play catch up’ after years of being ‘left out’ in the mainstream media.

[COLUMN] Access and Beyond: Motivations for internet use

In this column, Chenai Chair explores motivations of internet use through the ResearchICT Africa study in Rwanda, Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa. Business, local and global communication, social ties, and curiosity seem to be the main motivators. By understanding why people go online, we can better shape interventions for a connected society.

Field picture taken from 2011 survey: Source Research ICT Africa.

Do you remember why you went online for the first time in your life? This is my favourite question that you may not have yet thought about – but it reflects the  starting point in becoming a netizen.

This is the second in the series of columns on Access and Beyond that chronicles the research conducted by Research ICT Africa in Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa and Nigeria. In this column I focus on motivations for internet use.

Working out access on our own: Community projects, gender and internet

As our cities turn smart and countries turn digital the gender gap in terms of internet access is disturbing. The lack of access directly relates to the loss of rights of women and minorities. Sadly there is a long way to go before we close this gap. Chinmayi S K explores projects that attempted in innovative ways to address the digital gender gap online.

Image from Rights Con Brussels 2017 website

Wikipedia describes internet access as “the process that enables individuals and organisations to connect to the internet using computer terminals, computers, mobile devices, sometimes via computer networks“.

A place for all: On being diverse and inclusive @RightsCon

More than 1,500 business leaders, civil society advocates, policy makers, lawyers, bloggers, technologists, and users participated in RightsCon Brussels 2017 (March) and there were over 250 sessions related to human rights and technology. Serene Lim explores the ways in which inequity was addressed at the forum, and how exclusion and marginalisation were framed in various sessions.

Image from original work ‘Web Women Want’ by Willow Brugh. Licensed under cc-by-sa-2.0.

The internet of Things: smart devices, quantified self, dolls and vibrators

If an object has a chip, it becomes smart, and by extension our houses become smarter - and so do our cities, hospitals, toys, phones. But what about the inventors, the creators, the owners, the users of all these smart and tiny things - are we becoming smarter? Reflecting on sessions in Rights Con 2017 in Brussels, Vale examines the ways in which the internet of things can lead to invasive datafication and surveillance, and violate internet rights.

Image by Namita Aavriti, courtesy Cayla the hackable doll

If an object has a chip, it becomes smart, and by extension our houses become smarter – and so do our cities, hospitals, toys, phones. But what about the inventors, the creators, the owners, the users of all these smart and tiny things – are we becoming smarter?

I am fascinated by the ubiquitous ability of internet technologies to animate things, transform them into hubs, bypass walls and diminish distances.

10 ways to make Twitter work for feminist activism

How to bring the powerful agency and discourse of women's rights movements and feminism to the digital age of Twitter and other social media. Samukelisiwe Mabaso has researched on various movements across Africa and Asia that successfully and effectively use technology, and shows us ten ways in which to make Twitter work for feminist activism. Lets get in formation!

I decided to do a little exercise, I typed #feminism in Twitter’s search bar and the top tweet that came up was this comic that immediately spoke to me.

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[COLUMN] Open software movements, open content, free culture: Where are the women?

The gender balance is far from equal even in progressive movements such as the free and open source software community, Mozilla user groups, and others. Despite all the rivers of ink that were written about the gender imbalance in these areas, the changes are slow to arrive.

In 2011 a study by GroupLens revealed the gender imbalance on Wikipedia, and there was an outpouring of articles in the global media about the notorious absence of women in the world’s largest virtual encyclopedia. At that point the Wikimedia Foundation set in motion an ambitious plan to try to incorporate more women. Above all, user groups appeared, making it their business to get more women involved as their main goal.

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