Internet Governance Forum 2021

The annual Internet Governance Forum (IGF) serves to bring people together from various stakeholder groups as equals, in discussions on public policy issues relating to the internet.

The 2021 edition, the Sixteenth Annual Meeting of the IGF, was hosted in a hybrid format in Katowice, Poland and online from 6-10 December 2021. For this edition, an Insafe delegation hosted two workshops: one looking at gender-based issues relating to online violence or abuse, and one discussing the overarching challenge of the digital divide.

On Thursday, 9 December 2021, from 16:50-18:20 CET, a workshop titled Mind the gender gap OR Mend the gender gap took place. The session sought to raise awareness of 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. Participants will discuss ways of preventing violence from happening online, and sources of support for women and girls in need of help. Good practice scenarios were also discussed. Consideration was also given to the role of technology companies that govern the commercial internet. Finally, the session called for a set of preventive measures in the education sector, and explored ways to encourage private companies and the media to set self-regulatory standards about sexist hate speech.

On Friday, 10 December 2021, from 10:45-12:15 CET, the workshop theme was Money can’t buy me digital literacy. When we talk about economic and social inclusion in the field of digital literacy, the digital divide is a widespread concept which we cannot seem to move beyond. In the past, the ‘digital divide’ has 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 in their uptake of online media/digital literacy include people with low income, education, or literacy levels, the unemployed, elderly or disabled people, and women and girls. Although recent research indicates that differences in access have narrowed, another second-level digital divide, focusing on differences in how social and cultural groups make use of internet content and applications, is emerging. While this workshop will focus on inclusion, it will also explore, paradoxically, how to detect different vulnerable groups, along with different ways of co-creating successful prevention of the digital divide through digital literacy concepts. Do national education systems have a big role to play here or is this solely a parental responsibility? Are there different stakeholders to consider? What is the potential role of industry within this strive for equality?

Throughout the week, the Insafe delegation also hosted a (virtual) booth to promote, among other activities, Safer Internet Day (SID).

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