Censorship walks, a feminist view of the Internet Governance Forum

15 November 2012

By hvale

A big hangar, with a constant voice asking people to wear headphones and talk to each other through the microphones, an internet network that does not allow participants to be online simultaneously, with an average of only one person out of three being able to access full online services and the other two struggling with their different devices to reach out, comment and communicate what is happening and what should not have happened.

The “not” is about the censorship that proactive people had committed against materials distributed by activists, particularly the Indonesia activists and to silence Azeri dissent. Materials were confiscated and a variety of intimidatory practices used and of course the formal use of “good behaviour codes” .

Besides the “not”, there is the forum, the complexity of dialogue with very experienced, tough players: governments, intergovernmental organizations, big big business and the masters of the internet from ICANN to ITU and on…

And among them civil societies, plural voices that span academia and advocates of “different protections” and the women rights advocates. To be an activist is never easy, it is not easy when you have to expose your body to the street, but it is also difficult when you have to sit and dialogue with the powerful ones, the ones who decide – due to their money or their monopoly on decision making power.

When I was young I truly believed in government officials, regarding them as my voice, my legs, my hands toward the implementation of citizens rights and welfare. The illusion did not last long, I am a daughter of decadent Italy from Craxi to Berlusconi, and I am a migrant citizen of the disputed and disputing Western Balkans, more specifically of Bosnia Herzegovina, a stronghold of post-modern feudalism governing the attitudes of the new elites.

Which such a background, it is very important for me to be here as an activist and as a women, the only silenced majority of the world. The pre-event gave me hope: a long day on enhanced-cooperation where women and men were equally represented and with two panels with a women positive imbalance. The tone was intense and I felt changes can happen,but then the opening was a slap in the face with an all-male show and ritual formal opening. If was not for Carlos Alfonso, Alice Munya and for the Lynn St Amour I would think that the IGF is a lost opportunity but still I am here sitting again at the plenary of the 3rd day: Access and diversity which brought us all (women of the multistakeholders dialogue) to the main stage , an advocacy result of the past six years of dialogue.

Censorship is high, players are not equal, but opportunity is the base of any activism so here I am to speak out, to listen and to bring changes on the move.

P.S. If you look at the picture you will read chairperson, actually was chairman but on demand the change happened! We can all be agents of change ;-)

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