Internet Governance, Sexuality and Women's Rights

14-17 September, Internet Governance Forum

In South Africa, the internet is a valuable space for transgendered men and women to find important health information, build networks and challenge power relations that dominate the offline world.

In India, young women in Mumbai are negotiating and challenging the boundaries of restrictive gendered norms that limit their safety and mobility in physical spaces through sexual expressions and self-representation in online spaces.

In Lebanon the strengthening of the sexual rights movement is strongly linked with the development of an open internet. This is the same in Brazil where despite having a relatively more established rights agenda, gender and sexual rights activists use the internet extensively to learn about rights and organise for further advocacy.

In the USA, enforced filtering by the government further restricts the ability of those already disenfranchised to access information, such as poorer youths who rely on public libraries for internet access.

The ability to access, use and define the internet is critical for discriminated and marginalised groups and individuals to engage with and transform the social, cultural and political contexts they inhabit. For the internet to become such a space, full recognition and respect for users communication rights - including access to information, to form communities, freedom of expression, conscience, thought and belief and privacy - must be ensured.

However, in almost all parts of the world, governments and other actors are calling for stricter regulation of the internet - often without active participation by women's rights and sexual rights activists and movements in decision making processes.

*Fifth Internet Governance Forum: Take part*

The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is a key, robust and relatively open multi-stakeholder platform created by the United Nations to discuss public policy matters related to internet governance. However, it has been a challenging space for women's rights and sexual rights advocates. In the fifth and final year of its mandate, women's rights are still being dwarfed as a critical issue to be debated in this arena, while sexuality issues although present, is not seen as a matter of rights.

What is the role of the internet in defending and realising women's rights and sexual rights?

What are our positions as women's rights and sexual rights advocates on how the internet should be governed?

Join the debate from 14-17 September on!

How & Where?

1) Join our workshops online: you will be able to watch both workshops organised by APC WNSP with key partners web-casted live on the IGF website, and join the debate using text chat or audio. To participate remotely, go to the IGF website on the day of the event, and click on the workshop link. You will be taken directly to the page where it is webcasted:

* Workshop 1 - Sexual rights, openness and regulatory systems

When? Tuesday, September 14 (day 1), 11:30 – 13:30 (UTC+3).

This workshop will present opinions from various stakeholders on the competing rights and interests on the topic of sexual rights and openness. It will examine the values and ways different users negotiate with internet content and risks, and the impact and potential of regulatory mechanisms in the recognition and realisation of sexual rights and gender equality.

* Workshop 2 - Protecting women’s rights: Internet content from a gender perspective

When? Friday, September 17 (day 4), 11:30 - 13:30 (UTC+3).

This workshop will explore how to protect not only children, but also women from harm experienced or facilitated through the Internet, while at the same time ensuring freedom of expression and business interests. It is an important opportunity to engage various stakeholders in a discussion on content regulation, peer review mechanisms and technical solutions to protect women's rights.

You can use a time zone converter to see what hour will be in your country:

2) Twitter: Follow us on Twitter and join the conversation during IGF. Post your questions and thoughts using the hashtag #igf10 #genderit (or #genderitES for Spanish). We will raise your thoughts at sessions we attend on your behalf. All tweets will be aggregated on the twitter account is @GenderITorg.

3) Blog @ Feminist Talk: You can follow our blog posts in Feminist Talk section of website ( and submit your inputs or leave your comments. To submit your input you should create an account on (scroll down to bottom right corner) and then go to Create Feminist Talk. You can also send it to and we will post it for you . You must enter, go to “Create an account” on the right side column and complete the fields.

To stay informed on discussions concerning internet governance, sexuality and women's rights sign up to Gender Centred - thematic bulletin:

And to catch up on the take on debates at previous IGFs, go to:

Please do not hesitate in getting in touch with us. Take part in a process that can make a difference.

You are also more than welcome to pass this call around.

We still have things to do!


Some food for thought:

In preparation for this year's IGF, we invite you to highlight some of the key issues on this subject concerning internet governance, sexuality and women's rights.

* How can we make sure that the internet remains a space which is valuable for asserting and expanding our sexual rights? Does privacy and anonymity matter to you?

* Do you feel safe and comfortable when searching for information concerning sexual health and pleasure? Can you serve internet anonymously? If not, why?

* What is problematic and objectionable about content for women's rights? Are there new things that pose a risk to women's rights (social, political, cultural and economic) or are they yet another manifestation of older/existing ones? And how do they connect the virtual and physical worlds?

* How can self-regulation work towards the protection of women's rights in terms of potentially problematic content?

* How can those who we seek to 'protect' such as children, women and other vulnerable citizens - be involved in developing policy and regulation around content regulations that are supposed to benefit them?

* Who would you like to be in position to protecting you or your children from harm in online spaces (e.g. state, internet service provider, school, parents, yourself)? How such protection should look like (e.g. content filtering, personal data protection)?

Leave your comments ,email us your response to or tweet us your thoughts! Don't forget to add the hashtag #igf10 #genderIT to your tweets.

Add new comment

Plain text

  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <br><p>