Does the internet make the realisation of economic, social, cultural rights a stronger possibility, especially for women and gender nonconforming people? This is the question that our edition on ESC rights and the internet seeks to answer. The GISWatch report on ESC rights looks at various contexts around the world (different stories) of how the internet has acted largely as an enabler for ESC rights, and sometimes as a dis-abler or rather a selective enabler, that widens the gaps around existing axis of social and economic difference.

How Internet Technology Will Affect Rights: 3 Things to Look For

Nadine Moawad looks at what the future of the internet will bring - how the worlds of data, labour or employment, and culture, will be transformed. Nadz brings us back to the question of why we struggle within the human rights paradigm, instead of demanding a radical overhaul of the system -- and smash patriarchy.

Algorithmic discrimination and the feminist politics of being in the data

Dr. Nicole Shepherd

This edition of examines some of the new concerns that emerge around ESC rights, when linked to a progressively digital world - such as the ethical and practical quandary of whether movements should oppose the collection of big data per se, or should demand to be counted in data collection by governments as women, minorities, indigenous or other groups that are vulnerable. Nicole Shepherd examines in depth what can be the feminist praxis in relation to big data.

Beyond the offline-online binary – why women need a new global social contract

Anita Gurumurthy

While most concerns around women were often understood through frameworks put in place by the Convention of Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, the Covenant on ESC rights also has played a role in establishing human rights safeguards. Anita Gurumurthy points out in her article, that now the violations of ESC rights occur not in online or offline worlds, but in the hybrid contexts of embodied and embedded techno-mediated life - in the unfreedoms wrought by digitalisation, data and networks.

The edition also includes two in-depth interviews with researchers and writers for the GISWatch report from Uganda and Cambodia, that respectively have produced reports in GISWatch on how the internet has helped in campaigns and movement building.

Role of internet in realising sexual and reproductive rights in Uganda: Interview with Allana Kembabazi

Tarryn Booysen

In this interview, Allana Kembabazi of Initiative Social And Economic Rights in Uganda, talks about the role of the internet in advocacy and campaigns about high rates of maternal mortality in Uganda and sexual and reproductive rights. In a context where health care is far from sufficient, the internet also becomes an avenue for provision of sexual and reproductive health related information that is not easily accessible otherwise.

Harnessing the Internet to Realise Labour Rights in Cambodia:Interview with Alexandra Demetrianova

Radhika Radhakrishnan

Do internet campaigns work? This is what Alexandra Demetrianova reflects upon in her research for GISWatch about labour rights violations in garment factories of Cambodia. The internet has played a key role in the struggles of garment factory workers (mostly female) and trade unionists to demand for an increase in their minimum wage. It has also helped change consumer consciousness across the world. Some things cost more than we realise.

ESC rights, gender and internet: Learnings from the GISWatch report


Whether the language of international law has sufficiently 'mainstreamed' or adapted to include the feminist agenda of addressing gender inequity and systemic exclusion, it has always been clear that ESC rights are high on the priority of women's movements everywhere. This edition includes a report that looks at learnings from select 10-11 country reports from the GIS Watch that deal directly with issues of gender and sexuality, but pertain to wide range of issues including labour norms, violence, culture and tourism. Here we also give a gist of the topics covered in the GISWatch report on gender and sexuality through infographics.

What the GISWatch report attempts to do is ambitious - to establish conclusively that the internet plays a role in relation to ESC rights. The role it plays can be one that works for sustained and progressive realisation of ESC rights for all, but as Alan Finlay in his introduction to the GISWatch report states this depends on the nature of access that people have and the architecture of the internet.

Existing hierarchies can of course persist, violations and hate speech along lines of gender, caste, race could overtake the internet, class differences could widen as the internet enables only those with easy access. In fact, with the advent of dataveillance and big data, the ways in which we can be counted could become far more significant than our ability to create changes that count.