GenderIT.org manifesto

GenderIT.org is a feminist advocacy space that explores issues related to gender and information and communications technologies. We recognise that the internet is an evolving and dynamic environment, so the principles we operate on need to be flexible, but these are based on the understanding that equality and respect are non-negotiable.

The following feminist principles for the internet are a continual work-in-progress, being revisited, revised and improved. The principles were developed by community of activists engaging in women’s rights, LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans* and intersex) and internet right within six continents. They draw upon international rights treaties, in particular the Beijing Platform for Action and the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women. We welcome debate and discussion on what these principles mean and how they can be achieved.

1. A feminist internet starts with and works towards empowering more women and queer persons – in all our diversities – to dismantle patriarchy. This includes universal, affordable, unfettered, unconditional and equal access to the internet.

2. A feminist internet is an extension, reflection and continuum of our movements and resistance in other spaces, public and private. Our agency lies in us deciding as individuals and collectives what aspects of our lives to politicize and/or publicize on the internet.

3. The internet is a transformative public and political space. It facilitates new forms of citizenship that enable individuals to claim, construct, and express our selves, genders, sexualities. This includes connecting across territories, demanding accountability and transparency, and significant opportunities for feminist movement-building.

4. Violence online and tech-related violence are part of the continuum of gender-based violence. The misogynistic attacks, threats, intimidation, and policing experienced by women and queers LGBTQI people is are real, harmful, and alarming. It is our collective responsibility as different internet stakeholders to prevent, respond to, and resist this violence.

5. There is a need to resist the religious right, along with other extremist forces, and the state, in monopolizing their claim over morality in silencing feminist voices at national and international levels. We must claim the power of the internet to amplify alternative and diverse narratives of women’s lived realities.

6. As feminist activists, we believe in challenging the patriarchal spaces that currently control the internet and putting more feminists and queers LGBTQI people at the decision-making tables. We believe in democratizing the legislation and regulation of the internet as well as diffusing ownership and power of global and local networks.

7. Feminist interrogation of the neoliberal capitalist logic that drives the internet is critical to destabilize, dismantle, and create alternative forms of economic power that are grounded on principles of the collective, solidarity, and openness.

8. As feminist activists, we are politically committed to creating and experimenting with technology utilizing open source tools and platforms. Promoting, disseminating, and sharing knowledge about the use of such tools is central to our praxis.

9. The internet’s role in enabling access to critical information – including on health, pleasure, and risks – to communities, cultural expression, and conversation is essential, and must be supported and protected.

10. Surveillance by default is the tool of patriarchy to control and restrict rights both online and offline. The right to privacy and to exercise full control over our own data is a critical principle for a safer, open internet for all. Equal attention needs to be paid to surveillance practices by individuals against each other, as well as the private sector and non-state actors, in addition to the state.

11. Everyone has the right to be forgotten on the internet. This includes being able to access all our personal data and information online, and to be able to exercise control over, including knowing who has access to them and under what conditions, and being able to delete them forever. However, this right needs to be balanced against the right to access public information, transparency and accountability.

12. It is our inalienable right to choose, express, and experiment with our diverse sexualities on the internet. Anonymity enables this.

13. We strongly object to the efforts of state and non-state actors to control, regulate and restrict the sexual lives of consenting people and how this is expressed and practiced on the internet. We recognize this as part of the larger political project of moral policing, censorship and hierarchization of citizenship and rights.

14. We recognize our role as feminists and internet rights advocates in securing a safe, healthy, and informative internet for children and young people. This includes promoting digital and social safety practices. At the same time, we acknowledge children’s rights to healthy development, which includes access to positive information about sexuality at critical times in their development. We believe in including the voices and experiences of young people in the decisions made about harmful content.

15. We recognize that the issue of pornography online is a human rights and labor issue, and has to do with agency, consent, autonomy and choice. We reject simple causal linkages made between consumption of pornographic content and violence against women. We also reject the umbrella term of pornographic content labeled to any sexuality content such as educational material, SOGIE (sexual orientation, gender identity and expression) content, and expression related to women’s sexuality.