What do women expect for this 10th IGF?

7 November 2015

GenderIT.org asked many of the participants in the Gender and Internet Governance eXchanges (gigX) from three different regions what they expected for this year’s 10th Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Brazil, in terms of women’s and sexual rights, gender, and internet governance.

Gender and minorities issues to be on the agenda

“We need to maximise the benefits of the internet for people’s rights. I mean we need to find a space on the internet for minorities and for the forgotten who cannot raise their voices in their states because of majority despotism. This majority which controls all spaces even the virtual one. We should discuss the minorities/majorities issues on the internet, how the internet could help to build spaces for them, especially when governments use censorship to survey and wipe out their ideas on the pretext of religion and national sovereignty.” – Meha Jouini, gigX Africa participant

“I am interested in attending as many internet and human rights sessions as possible, especially the ones delving into regional progress on ICTs and human rights issues. Moreover, I also wish to observe whether gender balance is being observed at the IGF or not – not just in terms of the numbers of female participants, moderators or panellists present, but also whether the IGF is genuinely including gender concerns into its agenda or not. Their agenda must include women, sexual minorities and children, as well as issues concerning race and class.” – Zoya Rehman, gigX Asia participant

Strengthening multistakeholderism

“The challenge for women in these spaces is to break with the empty, formal discourses about the fewer number of women in the technology field, and to replace them instead with actions, strategies and methodologies designed to make visible gender-related differential impacts and inequalities. Multistakeholder dialogue which includes inter-related categories and dimensions must be incorporated into these processes, in order to create an inclusive agenda that is responsive to the demands of women and of the population as a whole. This in turn enables new ways of making policies that include the visions of all the participants in the exchanges.” – Maria Goñi, gigX LAC participant

“At the IGF I expect to see a bigger difference from the last IGFs, in terms of women’s participation both as panel speakers and as audience members that meaningfully engage and make fundamental contributions to bring up the necessary gender dimension even to issues that may be perceived as neutral. I also expect that with the sustained efforts to mainstream women’s issues into the internet governance dialogue, there will be more tolerance in the spirit of encouraging bottom-up contributions that, after all, give the entire IGF its legitimacy.” – Natasha Msonza, gigX Africa participant

“We expect to have a meaningful participation at the IGF – not just to be physically present but to be able to share our experiences, to have our voices heard and listened to. We want to engage with other groups and discuss with them our issues and explain why these matter. We also want to celebrate being women.” – Lisa García, FMA, gigX Asia participant

Access and capacity building towards a gender equal internet

“There are high expectations at this meeting for the definition or design of the IGF as an open space for debate – a permanent meeting place for all the sectors that want the internet to remain open, accessible, and a democratic public good. Women in particular want gender, diversity and pluralism issues recognised as intrinsic to the internet and its governance. They want the internet to guarantee the human rights of all people, especially the right to privacy and the inviolability of personal data, and freedom of expression; as well as more debate on mechanisms for dialogue and conflict resolution between service provider companies and online service platforms and the user communities. We want to keep raising the issue that in Latin America – and in other world regions – public access to infrastructure and connectivity, education and training and social inclusion must be addressed by public policies (and not only by private sector policies or by the market); and to recognise in particular that exclusion and the digital gap continue to affect the rural areas, the most vulnerable sectors and women belonging to indigenous communities. Specifically, we hope to consolidate the issues discussed at the preparatory meeting in Mexico on internet governance and the rights of women and girls in relation to online digital security and digital violence, through public policies and the policies of online service companies, as well as opportunities to expand access to education and development of competencies and skills, and training in the area of digital skills, to encourage increasingly equal participation, and empower women’s enterprises by developing service platforms and projects and digital content.” – Patricia Peña, gigX LAC participant

Violence online to be addressed

“I hope that the different stakeholders will discuss, design and share commitments to carry out digital literacy campaigns about hate speech on social networks. I would like online violence against women, girls and LGBTIQ groups to be an agenda priority, so that it can continue to be debated locally in our cities, communities and collectives, in order to seek answers and pedagogical conversations that will curb the violence. I hope the private sector, Google, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, will open more channels of dialogue with civil society and help us to map and denounce violence. I hope that updated reports about surveillance and privacy that are comprehensible to the majority of the population will emerge from the IGF. I would like academic circles to play a greater part, because I feel that in centres for the creation of scientific knowledge, like universities, knowledge about internet governance is often out of step with the current state of discussions in forums and decision-making circles.” – Florencia Goldsman, gigX LAC participant

“These are very interesting times for gender issues on the internet in general, and internet governance in particular. Controversies like that over Free Basics reactivated discussions about internet access, and gender perspectives play an important role here. Online VAW remains a burning issue, and IGF discussions on this topic will be exciting as there is an opportunity for human rights organisations to adopt closer positions and leave aside the prejudice that combating online VAW is tantamount to internet censorship. Recent events such as the Stockholm Internet Forum (SIF) earlier this year have paved the way for this discussion, and it is bound to be one of the hot topics at this year’s IGF.” – Paz Peña, gigX LAC participant

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