The Web Foundation is pleased to announce the third phase of support to the Women’s Rights Online network (WRO) — a network of women-led technology policy advocates working to close the digital gender gap.
The web can be a tremendous force for equality, but today men are 21% more likely to be online than women — rising to 52% in the world’s least developed countries. And when women and girls do get online, they often face additional barriers to using the web safely, such as the growing problem of online gender-based violence — a threat particularly pervasive for women of colour.
As the Covid-19 pandemic underlines how important access to the web is, we urgently need to tackle the digital barriers facing women and girls or we risk further deepening existing gender inequalities and marginalising women across the world.
The women’s rights and digital rights groups that make up the WRO network are working across Africa, South East Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean to bridge the gender gap in technology, data and policymaking. Through research, advocacy and action, the network has spent the last 5 years working to connect more women and girls to the internet, drive policy change for women’s rights online and power more gender equitable digital economies and societies.
Now, the latest chapter in the network’s journey — funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) — is focused on extending access and enhancing meaningful use of the internet by women across countries in the Global South, where the digital gender gap is often greatest. Here are the latest projects:
Media Foundation for West Africa (Ghana) will carry out a study to identify gaps and opportunities for women’s rights online in Ghana. The project will convene a National Stakeholders Dialogue Forum in 2021 on gender equitable access and use of the internet, and launch new policy research — including WRO nationally representative household survey research on women’s access and use of the internet in Ghana — to inform the dialogue.
Paradigm Initiative (Nigeria) willadvocate for women’s rights online and digital equality in national policy and regulatory frameworks in Nigeria, focusing on Nigeria’s Broadband Policy implementation and support for women’s inclusion in ICTs. This project builds on ongoing efforts in Nigeria by stakeholders to bridge the digital gender divide.
Women of Uganda Network (Uganda) will convene a civil society multi-stakeholder coalition on women’s rights online to assess advocacy strategies and coordinate a roadmap to advance policy change on digital gender equality. Supported by new nationally representative household survey research on women’s access and use of the internet in Uganda — carried out by Web Foundation in collaboration with the Uganda Communication Commission — the project will train policymakers on integrating gender at all levels of policymaking.
IT for Change (India) willcreate a dedicated feminist media space that catalyses and sustains nuanced debates, dialogues and conversations on the digital economy and society. ‘A feminist observatory on the digital’ will be hosted at Bot Populi, an independent digital media space examining technology and society from a social justice and Global South perspective. Workshops on digital rights, economic justice and feminist concerns will be convened as offline extensions of the online ‘feminist observatory on the digital’.
Foundation for Media Alternatives (Philippines) willhold a series of webinars and online discussions that highlight the impact of Covid-19 and the internet on women’s access to information, support systems and work during crises. FMA will partner with women’s groups and civil society organisations to hold consultations in 2021 to develop a Women’s Digital Agenda in the Philippines. The project will culminate in a national conference with policymakers and legislators to present the Women’s Digital Agenda.
Latin and Central America
Fundación Karisma (Colombia) will carry out new research on online gender-based violence (GBV) against women journalists to identify the risks and threats that violate women’s rights online, and the impact of online GBV on women’s lives and the gender digital divide. The goal of the research is to develop evidence-based recommendations and contribute to safeguarding women’s rights to freedom of expression and the press, and society’s right to receive diverse and plural information.
Sula Batsu (Costa Rica) played a leading role in developing Costa Rica’s Gender, Science and Technology Policy (PICCTI), informed by the Women’s Rights Online Digital Gender Gap Audit. The national Gender, Science and Technology Policy was approved in 2018 and is executing its first Action Plan (2019-2021). In this project, Sula Batsu will carry out new research on women’s employment in the digital industry to inform gender equality policy in the digital industry, science, technology and entrepreneurship in Costa Rica.
Hiperderecho (Peru) willdisseminate the findings of the Women’s Rights Online Digital Gender Gap Audit Report in Peru (completed in 2019). In collaboration with the National Association of Journalists in Peru, Hiperderecho will train journalists in three cities on research, data and policy solutions to generate public dialogue on closing the digital gender gap in Peru.
TEDIC (Paraguay) will carry out new research to develop the first baseline analysis on online violence against women in Paraguay. The research seeks to inform a more complete definition of online gender-based violence in the law. TEDIC will work with the Ministry of Women and the Inter-institutional Working Group Against Violence Towards Women to publish the research.
The Web Foundation is thrilled to be working with these partners as part of the WRO network, and we look forward to continued collaboration to demand digital equality and internet policy reform — so that everyone, everywhere can access the web and use it to improve their lives.
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