The Internet Governance Forum brings people together from various stakeholder groups as peers, in discussions on public policy issues relating to the internet. In total, 10,371 stakeholders from 175 countries took part in the sixteenth edition of the IGF.
Mind the gender gap OR mend the gender gap
On 9 December 2021, Insafe hosted a workshop named ‘Mind the gender gap OR Mend the gender gap’. The session looked to raise awareness on different forms of online violence towards women and girls, among them the non-consensual sharing of intimate images, child sexual abuse material (CSAM), and gender-based online hate speech. The research and evidence suggest that women and girls are disproportionately victims of discrimination and abuse online. Women and girls who experience online abuse, but also women who see it online, may feel powerless and find difficulty in expressing themselves because of the fear of being attacked.
The workshop started with four speakers that shared their views on the topic. The speakers were Juliana Cunha from SaferNet Brasil, David Wright, Director of South West Grid for Learning (SWGfL) (part of the UK Safer Internet Centre (SIC)), member of the European Parliament Maria Spyraki, and Karuna Nain, the Director of Global Safety Policy at Meta. After this introduction, participants divided into separate groups to discuss specific perspectives.
The outcomes of these discussions included that evidence shows that women and girls are disproportionally victimised online, and girls, especially, find it difficult to obtain support. Moreover, it is challenging for platform policies to capture the spectrum of global cultures, and there is an inconsistency in the application of legislation with regard to non-consensual intimate image (NCII) abuse.
Call-to-actions that contributors came up with were that progress is required by governments to harmonise legislation to protect victims of NCII and specifically women and girls, and that all victims should have easy access to redress. This can be done by strengthening peer-support networks for girls who are victims of online gender-based violence. Lastly, the importance of improving digital literacy, primarily through a planned and continuous school curriculum and to younger children before they venture online, was raised.
Money can’t buy me digital literacy
The second Insafe workshop took place on 10 December 2021 and had the theme ‘Money can’t buy me digital literacy’. The session aimed to address the overarching challenge of the digital divide, while also investigating economic and social inclusion in the field of digital literacy.
The divide in digital literacy is a widespread concept, and one which we cannot seem to move beyond. In the past, the ‘digital divide’ referred to the gap that exists in most countries between those with ready access to ICT and the relevant knowledge to be able to use it, compared with those who do not. Groups identified as being especially disadvantaged include people with low income, education or literacy levels, the unemployed, elderly or disabled people, and women and girls. Although recent research shows that differences in access have narrowed, another digital divide, focusing on differences in how social and cultural groups make use of internet content and applications, is appearing.
Panellists had the opportunity to highlight their perspectives on the topic. The speakers were Sonia Livingstone from the London School of Economics (LSE), Kathrin Morasch, a BIK Youth Ambassador from Germany and Youth IGF representative, Evangelia Daskalaki from the Greek Safer Internet Centre, Rodrigo Nejm from SaferNet Brasil, and Emmanuel Niyikora from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
Following initial presentations, the speakers led break-out group discussions with a variety of stakeholders to brainstorm responses to the questions raised during the panel discussion. One of the takeaways from the session was that the digital divide is a widespread phenomenon which worsened during the pandemic. Some participants commented that the educational system in many regions of the world was not prepared for the pandemic and, as a result, many young people felt that they are not really taken seriously in many aspects of their digital lives. The session concluded with a video, created by young people from Brazil, outlining their needs and demands to bridge the digital divide.
To learn more about the Internet Governance Forum more generally, or to keep updated on plans for IGF 2022, visit www.intgovforum.org.