Internet governance discussions and processes have always strived for Inclusion, diversity and participation as their core principles. This ranges from key and emerging issues, to stakeholder groups to regional diversity. Intersecting within and between them are issues of gender, both as an analytical lens, as well as basic equality in participation.
Topics related to gender have formed part of the debates at IGF from the beginning. Different stakeholder groups have brought to the process a gendered focus and lens to policy issues on gender and internet governance; sexuality and freedom of expression; addressing online-gender based violence; access to the internet and the gender digital divide; the importance of fostering women’s leadership in innovation and STEM fields; economic, social and cultural rights including education; privacy and surveillance and its gendered impact; to name a few.
The Geneva Declaration of 2003 committed all stakeholders to ensuring that the Information Society enables women's empowerment and their full participation on the basis of equality in all spheres of society and in all decision-making processes. That gender remains a challenge was affirmed in the December 2015 WSIS+10 resolution of the General Assembly: “We express concern, however, that there are still significant digital divides, such as between and within countries and between women and men, which need to be addressed through, among other actions, strengthened enabling policy environments and international cooperation to improve affordability, access, education, capacity-building, multilingualism, cultural preservation, investment and appropriate financing. Further, we acknowledge that a gender divide exists as part of the digital divides, and encourage all stakeholders to ensure the full participation of women in the information society and women’s access to new technologies, especially information and communications technologies for development.” (para 6 A /70/L.33)
In the past 5 years, there has also been a growing number of workshop proposals that aim to facilitate more focussed discussions on specific issues related to gender, as well as a stronger integration of gender into key and emerging themes. The IGF Gender Report Card – introduced by APC and the Gender DC in 2012 – have been a sustained effort to monitor inclusion in terms of issues as well as numbers, supported by the IGF Secretariat since 2014.
This clearly demonstrates investment and interest by the IGF community to both deepen and broaden the integration and inclusion of gender in the process.
The SDG Goal 5 that looks at a range of targets related to gender equality and empowerment of women and girls specifically cites ICTs as an important area for policy development. This provides an opportunity as well as a clear impetus for to seriously consider gender in current developments that will impact on the future of the internet.
This main session aims to foreground a discussion on gender and internet governance and policy. It will provide a space for stock-taking and discussion on key issues that have emerged and are emerging, including challenges and recommendations for ways forward; as well as specifically, what does it mean to integrate gender into internet governance processes?
The session will be divided into two segments and aims to be lively and participatory in approach, helmed by two dynamic moderators who have rich knowledge and experience in this area.
The first segment will discuss key issues related to gender and internet policy, including access, intersectionality, new and emerging technologies and addressing online gender-based violence. The second segment will facilitate a discussion on internet governance processes, mechanisms and structures, and aim to surface some recommendations on improvements to better integrate gender.
- Bishakha Datta (Gender Dynamic Coalition, Civil Society, India)
- Emilar Gandhi/Ebele Okobi (Facebook, Private Sector, SADC)
- Dubravka Šimonović, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Intergovernmental – In conversation
- David Kaye, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression (Intergovernmental)
- Veronica Birga, OHCHR (Intergovernmental)
- Tara Denham, GAC (Government)
- Doreen Bogdan (ITU, Intergovernmental)
- Carlos Henrique Zimmermann, Brazil (Government)
- Lissette Perez Perez, Official of the Directorate of International Relations and Foreign Trade of the Ministry of Communications of Cuba (Government)
- Chat Garcia Ramilo, Association for Progressive Communications (Civil Society)
- Chenai Chair, Research ICT Africa, Africa, Academia/Civil Society)
- Maria Paz, Derechos Digitales, LAC, Civil Society)
- Avri Doria IRTF Human Rights Protocol Consideration Research Group (Technical Community)
- Bob J Alotta (Aestraea Foundation, Civil Society)
- Desiree Milosevic (Afilias, Private Sector)
- Lise Fuhr, Director General of the European Telecommunications Network Operators Association (ETNO)