Redefining Rights for a Gender Inclusive Networked Future
21 December 2017 - A Workshop on in Geneve,Switzerland
>> Hello? Hi? Hello? Hello? Hello? Hello? Hello? Do you hear me?
>> AMRITA CHOUDHURY: OUDHURTShe's from Mexico. We have Anjou Manga from Fiji. We have Sarah from Uganda. Nooria from Afghanistan. She's been involved with the Afghan SIG, school of internet governance, and we have had various contributors to this session, too, which includes Evelyn Namara from Uganda, Sylvia Kanari from Kenya, some of them have not been able to join due to funds but they will try to join us online. So, when we are going into this subject, today, we will be sharing a few of our findings. We've done a small, preliminary study amongst women in the Global South to find out what are the challenges which they perceive as well as best practices, and what would be the best public policies or social aspects which need improvement so that we can have a more gender inclusive networked future.
We would be sharing in brief about those preliminary studies, but we would like to hear more from you, too. By the Global South, we want to try to define it. It also means people living from the less developed regions and also the economically or poorer regions in the wealthy nations.
So, that's the terminology of Global South which we have looked at for our study. Our survey, we had an initial survey which we had after looking at these secondary resources. We had 19 experts from the developing and least developed countries of Asia Pacific, as well as the Middle East and North Africa giving their views on a detailed questionnaire. The opinions of the questionnaire were then synthesized to form a smaller or shorter, brief questionnaire which was vetted by certain experts, and then we had the survey carried on, which there were 162 participants from 64 countries participated.
The study obviously has its limitation because it is a snapshot of a very short period of time and it is a more generalized view toward gender, and by gender, the definition includes a lot more things but we've restricted to only women for this study. Obviously as a next step, we would like to do a more in depth study on the subject so that we can investigate in more details in a granular way. So, some of these observations which we had is more than 67 percent of the respondents felt that their country is not gender inclusive. Most of the nations are halfway towards it. It's not that everybody is in the beginning, but we are somewhere in the middle. The top challenges which were identified as hampering the creation of a gender inclusive world were existing social and cultural norms in the society about the role of women, the low literacy rates due to lack of access and opportunities to education, digital skills, and ICT. Lack of access to infrastructure, resources, devices, and relevant content. The lack of comprehensive approach towards women empowerment, including understanding of what gender equality is and the issues involved. And inadequate policy implementations.
Limited access to financial support and opportunities. Workplace gender equality issues. Issues of trust and privacy online. Lack of role models, and very few ‑‑ a limited platform to interact. Inadequate research to base evident on these issues. Promoting digital skills amongst women and ensuring digital literacy. Simultaneous policies for women including access to internet. Building trust online, including better legislation and enforcement of laws against online harassment. Economic incentives to encourage diversity in the workforce. Encouraging more engagement amongst women networks. They also felt that government initiatives are important for improving the gender rights, especially under the SDG 17 all government policies are mandated to include policy related to decrease the gender gap.
However, for the correct implementation and execution of policies was felt to be more critical. Because many places, you have policies, but they have not been implemented in the right sense. The proactive initiatives of business evenness and capacity development by the Civil Society, technical innovation by the tech cam community were also considered important for achieving gender‑neutral digital future. In summary, it has to be a multistakeholder approach where everyone works together. So, these were some of the findings we had. We would like to hear more from you, but before that, we would start with the speakers in terms of, you know, you have three minutes to go to share what your perspectives are from the region with respect to the study and any other comments. Anjou, can I start with you, first.
>> ANGELICA CONTRERAS: Thank you very much. These incredible women invite me in this proposal. We've seen the rise of gender inclusive network in the future. What are we talking about? Do women face the same challenge that in other occupation? It is more difficult to the women. Now, these rights exercised in outside space. We also want to exercise the same rights in online space. One of the things mentioned is safety of women in online space. The worldwide foundation reports state that seven of ten young women who use the intent on a daily basis ‑‑ online. In my country, Mexico, one occasion combines sending and news. They never tell you about our rights.
It is not talking about access to the internet. It's talking about rights. About the quality. Whether practice or security, how important it is to ensure that violence is not allowed in local countries. In my country included a reform last year that add as a type of violence that say, disseminate and publish without consent and through technological record erotic or sexual content. In case of sexual content published without authorization, you go to the office to file a report to who is responsible if you know to publish.
The first solution to world process. From a gender perspective and digital vision, and that the women's institute give a course in women's digital rights. It's important to network women. The participant and decision making were a team. For a life free of violence for women in digital space, (speaking Spanish). Thank you.
>> AMRITA CHOUDHURY: Thank you, an Angie for highlighting that the violence against women online is something that needs to be taken on in a bigger way. Can I ask Nooria to present her views from her country's perspective, Afghanistan?
>> NOORIA AHMADI: Yeah. Hi, everyone. This is Nooria Ahmadi from Afghanistan. I would share with you my views from my country, like access, content, and representation. Of course, it's not limited to these three, but these three things are very important, as I consider them. So, ICTs can get new ways for people to live, and these new ways reflect real life problems. So, a woman should assert their rights here, too, with determination and without any delay. Women may not have been active, may not have been very active in the very first days when internet comes in the real world. But, now, the rapid pace of the change online means they need to participate now to ensure the future of the internet is taking into account the women's rights consents.
So, when we are designing a tool, a policy to sort out an issue emerging in any of the domains constructing our lives, like politics, healthcare, labor, propriety, education, environment, and all of these areas, adopting an intersectional perspective is greatly beneficial.
So, in answer to those three questions, which is mentioned in the report, from Afghanistan perspective, the five existing challenges, the five important challenges are considered culture and traditional, culture and traditions, that don't allow women to participate actively in IG related issues or using new technologies and making policies for new technology and digitalizing data or anything. And the other challenging, the big challenging issue is digital literacy, that we have to make capacity among women and females, and train them how to use new technologies to defend their rights to facilitate their lives, and how to use it in their own ways of benefit.
And the third point is limited access. Of course, it is a big issue, not only for females, but men are like based on information from MCIT of Afghanistan, Ministry of Information and Communication Technology in Afghanistan, 2.7 million users in Afghanistan. That 1.7 million has access to social media like Facebook, Twitter, anything. 10 percent are women. Out of it, only like 1 percent use their identities in social media.
So, the other big challenge can be the privacy because they, for many reasons like violence against women and cyberbullying and for those reasons, they can't use their identity online. So, this is a big issues. And for making capacities, there should be many communities for making capacity among females so that they can have a part in developing ICT related issues in country, and having part in ICT sector of Afghanistan. We are a community for information technology professional organization of Afghanistan that we are trying to make capacity among people. Like, we had a school of governance in Kabul back in April of 2016 when we tried our best to involve women, to an extent, like, it couldn't be equal, but we tried to involve women among participants and the speakers. And I was one of the speakers, but there were more participants, female participants in that school. So, we are considering to have those kind of events more and more, and take into account the participation of females in those areas.
So, and a policy, the top three policies that can be taken into account for making these things clear, like digital literacy, digital access, and the law protecting rights for women and children online, this is very important to be considered and policy making for the future of ‑‑ yeah. This, I think, is very important to be considered for policy making and future of internet.
>> AMRITA CHOUDHURY: Thank you, Nooria, I know you want to add more, especially since you come from a country which has a lot of challenges for women. Sarah, may I request you to speak your represents, your African perspective, though it's very broad, but let's keep it to three minutes.
>> SARAH KIDEN: So, hi, everyone. I think I'm going to start from the social cultural aspect, and I know many people in this room experience the same thing that we do. From where I come from, women belong, you know, to the kitchen, you're house makers, and if there's an opportunity to take someone to school if a family doesn't have enough money and if they have to pay between a girl and a boy, they'll definitely send their boy.
I don't know if that's the same in developed countries, but I know in developing countries, we go through that. But, is that all women can do? House makers? Really? We need to do more. We've seen, if you read about the history of computing, you see that women naturally were the ones involved in the beginning of the internet. So, computing, grasshopper, and many other people. So, there are those very strong women, and yet when this other side of the world, no one knows about them or no one cares about them. I think we need to do a lot to sort of encourage them. Role models, you know, market them and tell people that someone like these and that they were able to do it. I think some of you watched a video that went viral of Meghan Markle when she talked about that advert, something about women and greasy pots.
She actually advocated for it and they were able to change it. So, there were very many issues that we go through as African women. If you go to a class, a science class, you'll find ‑‑ I know personally I was in a class and there were only two of us and everybody thought it was strange. Like, how can you be in this class? Why didn't you go into fine art or something? It was a technical class. But, I mean, why should we have some stereo types? Why should you think that science is meant for men? Or why should you think that women shouldn't choose the internet. It even goes beyond that. In a home, if there's one device, it will definitely be for the man and not the women. So it's about access. So, there are so many perspectives, of course, literacy. Men have improved in many African countries. That's improving a little bit, but we still have a lot to do.
And finally, from the government of Uganda, they give girls 1.5 marks to enter the University just to encourage humans to take science. There are people who say it affects the quality of education. They try to be better about that, but they try to encourage girls to go to the University and to go to school. I would like to end with this statement. They say when you educate a girl child, you educate the nation. Thank you.
>> AMRITA CHOUDHURY: Thank you, Sarah. You really kept to less than your time.
We would have more time for discussion. Anjou, do you want to step in now?
>> ANJOU MANGA: Okay. I shall take Sarah's time.
Okay. So in relation to survey ‑‑ I'm sorry, my name is Anjou, and I represent the Pacific community, and I'm from Fiji. When it came to the survey, I was specifically looking at the human rights and also gender, women's rights, but I think it's also important to understand that it's not just about online but offline safety. And the other thing I wanted to mention was gender is not only about women, but also men. And I think we can use men to be powerful catalysts to empower women to also promote equality and also promote online safety, et cetera. And the word inclusive, to me, means everyone. So, persons with disability, indigenous communities, ethnic minorities, these are the people ‑‑ and especially young children and they need to be educated, and they need some sort of awareness on it.
And as per the survey, and from my perspective in terms of in the Pacific, online safety is critical for us. Especially the Pacific, and that was cleanly mentioned in the survey. But, currently, there's still a lack of awareness or trainings in this sort of area so I think this is one thing that we want to continue improving. And the challenges are, ICT is still progressing in the Pacific. There are few rural remote areas that are still not connected. And national governments are focused on national ICT policies but they're not necessarily focused on the gender aspects of it so this has always been an issue for us but we are trying to do what we can to sort of counter it. And when we talk about ICT, it's not just about technology. It's also about communication. So, we use a lot of media, journalists, sorry, to sort of advocate and sort of promote this sort of awareness because they themselves don't understand too much about ICT or cybersecurity, et cetera. But we use sort of them, some of them in that area to sort of advocate on it.
And my colleagues, Maureen and a few others in the Pacific were talking about gender equality, so acknowledgement of gender equality by governments and other organizations is needed and this was quite apparent in the survey as well. And there's still lack of skills. ICT is still not embedded within the different sectors as well and this is also an issue, so a lot of the women, they don't understand too much about internet or ICT in the different sectors like agriculture, health, or climate change, et cetera.
And there's still a lack of understanding on what gender rights and ICT or internet IG means to them. They still don't understand that. And the other last point that I would like to mention is, gender harassment, and sexism in the workplace. I remember when I started work and I was, because I'm a technical IT person, we had to carry ‑‑ I'm sorry, computers, big computers and stuff. So, the men were like, I don't think you can do this. You know, women should not be doing IT because you have to carry that big computer. You won't be able to carry it and you won't be able to go under the, you know, to actually do routing or networking or cabling and stuff like that.
So, I think this is another thing that we need to sort of get rid of ‑‑ or not get rid of, maybe make people understand. Not just men, but everyone generally, that ICT is not just about that, or gender rights and stuff, et cetera.
>> AMRITA CHOUDHURY: Thank you, Anjou. May I ‑‑ we have, Gustavo could not be here. He's the only male in this panel. Normally, you have information that these are Manels but this is a Fanel this time. So, we have a short video he sent. We'll try to get that connected, the video. Will be difficult? We'll take Nadira. Nadira is from Pakistan. Shell be speaking remotely.
>> NADIRA AL‑ARAJ: Hello. Thank you, Amrita. Can you hear me? Hello? I'm without camera. Can you hear me? Hello? Can you switch the camera off? I can't hear you from my end. Are you hearing me? Something went wrong when you switched back here. I'm not sure what went wrong.
>> AMRITA CHOUDHURY: Nadira, can you continue?
>> NADIRA AL‑ARAJ: I couldn't hear. I didn't know what happened.
>> AMRITA CHOUDHURY: You can proceed.
>> NADIRA AL‑ARAJ: Okay. Thank you, Amrita. I'm sorry for what happened. I wish I'm with you there. But due to many constraints as also part of a gender issue, also. I very care about my family and my dad at this time of year. I have to give you a little bit about my reason. As you know, I come from the Middle East, and the countries, most of them are going through political and economic instability, including the Gulf countries as well. And also, these countries are still war‑torn or engaged in war that make the social development priorities to be different than any other regions, I think, from my perspective as well.
With that in mind, I have a look about what was the results of the respondent from our survey. It was preliminary ; but we can later have further in depth studies. Only 11 percent of respondents are aware of the disparity of practices adopted in each respective countries to promote gender inclusive digital futures, which will almost half of other respondents. But from my personal exposure to the experts in the field, we can see many changes are taking place. As an example, we are promoting a community‑based organization with public sector information. From the survey, we can identify a community gap between what is actually offered and what the general public knows or even benefits from these initiatives, because it has to be considered.
In regards to contribution to the labor force in my region, it is 20 percent, which is the lowest percentage in the whole world according to the latest ILO statistics. Given the fact that the rate of school dropouts of girls are less than boys. Getting back to the survey results, with that, with regard to the comment constraints for mean responses, the responses to gender digital inclusive, we pointed out a few significant barriers and social norms. This comes as no surprise due to the political and economical instability.
In countries with gender stereo type, as most of you mentioned that they place priority for women on their family roles rather than being an agent of change in the country's economy. As for the policy reform, many of our respondent enters gave priority to include gender rights and protective rights online. Both came before the inclusive act, and that kind of makes a difference more as personal issues than being on the internet, or digital. Finally, the interesting, interestingly, respondents gave way to the role of Civil Society to improve gender rights rather than government in capacity building and promoting digital and STEM education.
And thank you. I'm eager to follow up with you in the discussion. Thank you.
>> AMRITA CHOUDHURY: Thank you, Nadira.
>> LOKESH: So, we have a question from Lokesh from India. It is for Amrita. It says, there are hardly any scientific studies understanding the reality of gender digital divide. In many marginalized communities, women have no agency. Do we have enough evidence as to why there is such a huge undergap and do you think more social research is needed to understand this?
>> AMRITA CHOUDHURY: Absolutely. There is more research which is needed of women minorities, especially in the remote areas because there is lack of data to support the digital divide, or how they are being left behind. The concern today is those who are not online are being left behind much more than when the world was offline, and that's also a worry. So, there needs to be more research on these aspects. So, we would like you to share your perspectives in terms of, what do you think are the challenges or concerns? Or how do you think we need to participate or women can contribute together in terms of building networks or participating in networks to take it forward? Because more or less, we know the challenges or issues, but how do we go ahead or do you know of any best practices you would like to highlight upon? Anyone, it's open.
>> JOAN KERR: Hi, it's Joan Kerr for the record. Great. I love the stories, and unfortunately haven't read the survey but I would love to see it in its pure form and some of the responses, if that's okay. That's always a personal request. So, in hearing the panel identify some of the challenges from a personal level or from their local levels, one of the challenges that I see overall, having been involved in this for a while, is the corporate challenge of grassroots doing the dirty work and the big organizations coming in to just sort of scoop it up. And no one is talking about that.
So, it's sort of like, yeah, it's okay, you've done your thing. Bye‑bye. We can now do the policies and the frameworks and we'll do the work for you. Because yeah, you know, the house is clean now, so, let's maintain it sort of thing. So, how do we ‑‑ and that's sort of demotivating to community because all of a sudden they've lost that personal touch, they've lost that connectivity because they're told how it should be interpreted or how it should be addressed or what actions are to be ‑‑ and if you want money, this is what we're going to do. So how do we overcome such a challenge? And was that, could we maybe address that in the future if we haven't thought about it from a community level, how do we work together so that we don't get displaced, I guess?
>> AMRITA CHOUDHURY: Thank you, anyone ‑‑ yes, please.
>> NOHA SALAMA: Hi. My name is Noha and I'm an IGF fellow by Internet Society. I would like to see more well organized women to women mentorship programs, especially from older lady who had maintained a work‑life balance. I faced like a difficulty to find a mentor or a role model to look for in the Menia region in the ICT field, so, yeah, a mentorship program would be beneficial. Thank you.
>> AMRITA CHOUDHURY: Yes. Anyone? Gunela, do you want to share? Oh, yes.
>> It's okay. I'm Benel Luna, from Bolivia. Yeah, something that is kind of bothering me when we are talking about the Global South is that we are not seeing also the gaps that are between different countries in the Global South itself. Most of the policies, at least from what we are being told, is not being visible online if we don't want to get harassed. And we are in a way collaborating to the harassment culture. Similar to rape culture. Don't wear skirts so you are not going to be raped. Don't be visible online so you are not going to be harassed. And in this way, we are conveniently getting invisible and also being erased from this story that we are taking. And as a political active woman in my country, I wonder how can we get in the principle of no one left behind if all of our policies are focused on not being visible, being protected rather than providing safety.
I think it's really important that we first build the capacities in different countries, at least in Bolivia. There's no people involved in this topic. It's that we don't have the capacities. And the mentorship thing that our colleague was mentioning, that's really important. We need that. But we also need the information to know that the solution is not being invisible. Not being erased. Not taking part of the digital space. Because we all know that if we are not in the digital space, we are also erased from the physical space in a way. Thank you.
>> AMRITA CHOUDHURY: Yes. The cue is, Nooria wants to say something. Gunela, yes. You. And I'm sorry, someone, Shabana. Yes.
>> NOORIA AHMADI: So, in order to your question, I'm sorry, I forgot your name, about the regulations, that there should be some regulations like when any woman faces some, the harassment online, they don't know to whom should they report and who is responsible and who is in charge of these things? But, this is the main find. Actually, this is not the problem only in developing countries. In many developed countries, I don't think there is a regulation specifically for this reason in what should be done in order to online harassment reports. I think no one goes to maybe police to report any harassment issue, or if they want to go, they don't take it serious. This is an online issue.
And sometimes I can make you sure that this has happened that online issues, the online view lens has led to physical violence in many societies, especially in Afghanistan. If this happened, then this is the thing that I was thinking about. I don't know about other countries, but in other countries, this is a big issue. I don't know if there is any regulations in my developed countries that women has been harassed and then there has report or they have contacted someone and that report has been considered seriously. I don't know if it has happened or not. So, I'm also interested in this issue in order to mentoring program as ‑‑ Okay. Should I? As a female in a developing country, it is too much hard to find a program to be mentor for mentoring or seeking help from other women. Yeah, it is possible to get the data and help each other, but you have to take the first step, I think. As my own experience, you should take the first step, and then you can help other people, you can be mentor to other women.
>> AMRITA CHOUDHURY: I will have to cut you. We have people who want to speak. Gunela, you want to share your experiences and how we can add further to what we want to do?
>> GUNELA ASTBRINK: Thanks, Amrita. This is Gunela Astbrink from women's disabilities in Australia. I'm going to talk a little bit about the Pacific. I know Anjou mentioned the Pacific. Women with disabilities are really doubly disadvantaged. A lot of it has to do with cultural issues. Women with disabilities maybe hidden away. Are not given the educational opportunities. And there is some work being done by the Pacific disability forum on surveying both men and women's use and nonuse of the internet and mobile phones in four different Pacific Island countries, and the use by women with disabilities is markedly lower in most of those courts for a variety of reasons, cultural, educational, et cetera. So, it really creates a lot of barriers for women with disabilities to move forward and to be able to participate in the community and the future.
>> AMRITA CHOUDHURY: Thank you, Gunela. Yes, you wanted to make a comment.
>> Good morning. I'm Shalat. I would like to see a collaborative platform open where different women from different countries can search, share, and highlight the challenges in their country and experience and some opportunities in national language.
>> AMRITA CHOUDHURY: Thank you, Shabana, you wanted to add something?
>> SHABANA MENSRI: Thank you. Hi, everyone. My name is Shabana Mensri. I work with program by tech women of Afghanistan. All of the challenges which were discussed here, they are the same challenges that we all in developing countries face. And the discussions we had and also the panelists that provided information all about the gender inclusive network for future, there are like, this challenge or the problem is not specific, but it's related to many different aspects as well. For example, we have the political problems with social, economic am. For this reason, we need to like different levels or different stakeholders engagement. For example, we need to have political support. For the policies, we need government support. For capacity building and also for skills development, we need academia institutions support. And also for supporting such initiatives in the country, we need the Civil Society support as well.
So, for all the challenges and problems that we face for gender inclusive networks and also for supporting these networks, we need to have support and also engagement and contribution of different things and also different stakeholders, government, academia, institutions, and also private sector. We need private sector to provide training, mentorship opportunities shall also funding these opportunities and also provide jobs for these girls.
And also for lady from Egypt, she talked about the mentorship program and also that you don't see, of course, you cannot accept a mentor. There's a program I'm in communication with them past three to four years which is called tech country. It's for Menia countries. Pakistan was recently added. They provide a very rich mentorship program for all north Africa countries in United States, and it's supported by, it's the initiative of U.S. department of state bureau of education and cultural affairs. It's a very rich program. I approach them if they can see that ‑‑ but you can take advantage of that program as well.
>> AMRITA CHOUDHURY: I think you can share it offline but it's good that you shared there's some initiatives. We'll take some comments, but we have a video from Gustavo, which we were waiting. Sarah would like to respond to someone, and then you want to speak some. Oh, yes, please.
>> So, since we are far from ‑‑ which are the main policy and governance, we do struggle a bit with integrating with the rest of the country. Sometimes we do get some events here, but that's rare. And most of the time, we have to do with what we have. That's a hardship, yes, but it's not insurmountable. And in some ways, it allows for innovation. You can take these limitations and become a leader. You can become a local leader, do something for your people. And in my case, I am gay, and so I also deal with some LGBT issues and that was never a problem, at least not here.
It might be a problem elsewhere in the world, but that was not my case. What I think people should do is really try and do something for your own people, and see what are the local needs, and build something around this and what are your personal skills.
>> AMRITA CHOUDHURY: Yeah.
I think one thing which I would like you to highlight is, how can women help each other mentor each other? Because mentorship is also something which is important.
>> Amrita caught me out there. Thank you, Amrita. And thank you for giving me this opportunity. Good morning. Yeah, mentorship. I wanted to actually look at what you were saying about gender‑based violence, and I speak from the experience of the association for progressive communication. So, I think mentorship, it's mentorship but it's also about support networks. So, one of the things we have done, and I will focus on gender‑based violence, is this campaign that's set up to build, actually, a network. The campaign is called Take Back the Tech, and it's really to reclaim technology against violence against women. And we started this with the research. So, we did our research way back in 2005, I think, or 2004, when we noted there were issues around online violence. At that time, cyberbullying, et cetera. So then, from there is when we started this campaign, 2006, so it's now more than ten years and we really built a network of support around that. We have resources that look at safety, strategies you might use. There have been experiences of, we also have not only online campaigns but actually SIG campaigns that are offline. So, it's people meeting each other and building a network of support.
I think the other thing that's important here is that the strategies around when someone is attacked, for example, that's very useful. So, what kinds of strategies, sharing all of that, what actually happens within the network. So, I mean, you can look at the website, and it's also building awareness, changing policy as well. So, it's not only connected to the support itself but as well as providing, I guess, an enabling environment around policy and around responses. So, that's something that I can share. Thanks.
>> AMRITA CHOUDHURY: Thank you, Chet. Yes, Sidra. You, then Renata.
>> SIDRA JALIL: Hello, I'm Sidra representing Pakistan to promote the civic friendly ecosystem all around the country. Unfortunately, Pakistan has become a hub of problems. Whatever problems have been discussed here, unfortunately, we are facing loads of those. Similarly, you know, the Malala incident has left a very negative impression of our country all over the globe, but let me tell you, this is just one case. There are women, there are men, there are kids back there in the country facing the same issues. But, you know, then there is the ugly side of it and then there is a bright side of it.
Government has recently launched this education emergency program. I personally believe that education is one of the core problems that will eradicate all of these problems one by one, hopefully. So, government has declared this education emergency all across the group, and talking about the best practices, we believe that there are three key problems that will eventually help this education problem in the country. That is, to, you know, increase and promote the enrollment, the retention, and then the learning outcome of it. Talking about enrollment, government has launched these programs to offer free education to kids offering, you know, free curriculum, free textbooks, free schools and everything. And you know, to promote more retention, and to understand this perspective that, you know, there are parents who do not consider education as, you know, a very important element or they're not thinking out loud.
And I have seen such areas back there in Pakistan where speaking in English is considered as the, you know, anti-Islam agenda or things like that. So, to encourage parents or change their mind‑set, they're even offering incentives to those parents who are sending their kids to school. They can get subsidiary on several government initiatives. Ensuring that their kids are going to school, and on their attendance, they can get some percentage of something and things like that. And to encourage learning, the curriculum is being revised all across the country, be it Punjab or Sen or Kapakir or any of the programs, they're changing the curriculum and making sure the evaluation practices and teachers are being well trained and up to the mark, the global curriculum, whatever they're following.
Then, there are particular trainings and programs around, you know, promoting women skills and, yeah, sure. Just last mentioning recently a program is being launched called digital skills where the object is to offer freelance trainings to those women sitting in their homes and they are probably not being allowed or go to a particular center for formal trainings. This program will eventually try and reach a thousand women per month every year and will be evaluated based on whatever practices they are following. Sorry, I have to cut off. (laughter).
>> AMRITA CHOUDHURY: We would like very short intervention, we have very less time left. Renata, Sardip, Maureen? Anyone from there? You want to? Okay. We'll take it after.
>> RENATA AQUINO RIBEIRO: Thank you. Renata Aquino Ribeiro. A very short intervention. It is fantastic to have this team here bringing together the idea of an alliance of regions and gender and capacity building in internet policy. I would like to bring in the problem, that it's not very easy to do this alliance. Our organizations sometimes can be quite traditional, and resistant. I was recently censored in a project I made for an international organization just because they thought that there was a part that dealt with gender from a sexual diversity perspective with images of gay parades, and they thought that was offensive.
So, we need to be very adamant in saying that internet policy needs to be seen also from the lens of gender. And we need to be coherent that this is needed in order to have capacity building efforts to advance. There will be immense reaction, and we must stand still and be ready to support each other to move forward these efforts. Thank you.
>> AMRITA CHOUDHURY: Thank you, Renata. Yes.
>> Hi. My name is Bach. I'm from Columbia University, New York. Just two questions to the panel. One is we work quite a lot on hate speech and in traditional hate speech, there is, generally we try to involve religious leaders. And I've never heard especially in the Global South where religious leaders play an active role, I've never heard of any gender attempts online to try to work with them. Am I wrong? Have there been attempts? That's one. And the second question is, I know that in Malaysia, there is, I think a program where they have male leaders go to communities and tell them to treat women the way they should be treated with respect and dignity, and I'm wondering if it's possible to create similar programs online.
>> AMRITA CHOUDHURY: Yes, the hate ‑‑ the online violence which is reported many times, the political violence gets more precedence than gender violence, so that's definitely an issue. Yes, Sridip, Sayid, Josephine, you wanted to speak?
>> This is Sridip, and I strongly believe that the interventions need to be very clear in terms of gender inclusiveness and regarding the obstacles or challenges, it will always be there because recently when we did our IGF in Nepal, we also faced the same thing about how to make it more inclusive and there were issues of the barriers, the whole patriarchy, but things were there. We had a session where we brought in a transgender woman and she talked about her issues. It was just like going through the smaller picture and like going in and after the session, everybody, especially the youth, it was a youth session, they loved it. It's more like the interventions we work on. It's how we should. We should pragmatically talk about interventions rather than policies because policies would follow.
First, we have to work by our practice and by our interventions. Yeah. Thank you.
>> AMRITA CHOUDHURY: Thank you, Sridip. Sayid?
>> Hello, my name is Sayid. I'm an Amazon fellow coming from Afghanistan. I think it's important there aren't enough men who care enough to listen to the concerns we have here, but hopefully they will go through the transcripts and recordings appropriately. One thing I wanted to comment on was as a previous servant in the government of Afghanistan, I can assure you there's not a lot happening in the government side in my country and that, I believe, creates a lot of problems and puts a lot of Civil Society pressures in the country partly because the work that Civil Society and human rights organizations are doing, particularly in religiously sensitive countries like ours, they are not taken as positively as they would in other developed countries.
Also, international development organizations are also not taken very seriously or not very, I would say, with a lot of respect. So all of the activities that Civil Society organization would do, they would come across a lot of hindrance, a lot of resistance. So, I believe, as I said, previous public servant. I believe things need to be pushed through policies and legislations within the government. Thanks.
>> AMRITA CHOUDHURY: Thank you.
>> First, we have a comment that says, hi, my name is Slati. I'm from India. I think Shabana has raised a very good point that a comprehensive approach including government, Civil Society, and academia would help address the issue of gender divide. All of these need to empower India. Right now I see empowerment policies in India operate in separate slots. CSR does community training also but all these efforts are scattered. There's need of research which will also identify a look into how internet is diffused in marginal communities.
Then we have another question from another participant, Lokesh from India as well. It says, I agree with one of the presenters who said that inclusion is actually inclusion of men also. In many marginalized societies, we need to understand and take into account male context and work with them, who could be the gateways of access to women and girls. Can subchapters prioritize addressing gender digital divide by allocating research funds? Thank you.
>> AMRITA CHOUDHURY: Thank you. I think we have to block any more questions. Josephine, do you want to add something? Quickly, one minute. Then you can give your final comments.
>> JOSEPHINE MILIZA: My name is Josephine and I'm an ISOC ambassador from Kenya. I just want to highlight the role that mentorship plays in Kenya. We receive applications but only less than 30 percent were from women so one initiative we did, we went out and instead of doing outreach program for young women. We noticed it's not just an awareness thing but it's also a confidence should have.
So sometimes before you even address the tech gap, also address the issues that young women are facing with regards to access to technology and the confident they need in order to pursue any career they want, then they can be able to connect technology to whatever career they want to take in the future.
>> AMRITA CHOUDHURY: Thank you so much. We have just two minutes. Everyone has ‑‑ you know, two or three can perhaps speak to address things and summarize. I'm not going to summarize anymore.
>> Sorry, can you hear me. Just coming back to Joan Kerr's question. I think it's a question to the panelist as well as other organizations. How do we work with different organizations, and I think Joan Cur can further this in terms of what we're doing with the research and maybe you could add more in the future and see how we can work on this. In terms of, two points have been raised about men and I totally agree. That's why I said in the beginning, it's very important that we sort of use men as catalysts to actually empower women.
And this is very critical because when we talk about gender, it's not just about women. It's about men as well. And what Gunela said in terms of inclusive, I also agree. Persons with disabilities. But it's not just about persons with disabilities, working with women, but also working with the minorities, ethnic minorities, sorry. And the other point I wanted to raise was, we've done a lot of initiatives in the Pacific, but there's not much happening in the sense that we've got a Pacific women's network, and we sort of look at high level Pacific women issues.
But we tried to do a workshop on gender ICT and women. This was done in 2007 and unfortunately doesn't kind of continue because there is no support, because they don't really ‑‑ there is a disparity between what they understand and what they don't understand. So there's also within the Pacific ministers meeting, clearly we need to also kind of educate and make them aware of these sort of issues. That's it.
>> I just want to add something to the comment from Nepal, that the, how, what can we do to involve more women, to encourage women to have more participation in such kind of programs? That we can consider at least one woman, at least one female who has presenting her own experience and how she has been through this all to come this far can be a good idea to encourage other women to be involved in such issues, and for young ladies who are, it is good to put your efforts to find some programs for mentorship to help you. But I would suggest from my own experience, do not be dependent to anyone, to any program. You can just try by yourself because some initiatives are just by saying, they are just like, for receiving funds from people. But they don't do exactly like what is needed for women. They just use women's name. Be yourself.
And one more thing. And I should tell this, at an event, I was the only woman. When I was presenting, what is IG related issues. All the girls were present there among participants, no one had an idea of what is IG. What is IG‑related issues. Then, after like, when I presented, what is IG‑related issues, how it can be beneficial to their lives, how they can use, like anything, then they go to know, then they're interested in such issues now. Now they are contributing. Thank you.
>> AMRITA CHOUDHURY: I have to cut you because we are between sessions. Angie, very quick.
>> ANGELICA CONTRERAS: It is necessary to include women in these discussions, and the programs, IGA, ambassadors, and especially women in Internet Society is a great idea. I invite and participate.
>> AMRITA CHOUDHURY: So I would conclude the session. Thank you so much. We have certain papers around in case you want a copy of the draft preliminary reports, and want to submit some comments, please send it to us. We're still improvising on it. Thank you. We need to collaborate as women. That's something which is true. For mentoring. We need to hold each other's hands. You can push someone down. If you have an opportunity, share it, and I think creating some networks, groups, where we can exchange would definitely help. Thank you so much for coming to this
(Session was concluded at 5:23 AM CT)