Session format: Panel Discussion
Time: 90 Mins
BPF Gender and Access
Over the past three years, the IGF’s Best Practice Forum (BPF) on Gender has been investigating various challenges pertinent to women’s ability to access and use the Internet. In 2016, it looked at the barriers that women face in not only accessing but also using the Internet, along with mapping initiatives and methods that have been used in diverse jurisdictions to overcome these barriers (see the report here). In 2015, it investigated online abuse and gender-based violence (see the outcome report here), which has been shown to form a significant barrier for women wanting to access and use the Internet in certain regions.
The BPF’s work has indicated that much of the initiatives and literature available on women’s ability to access and use the Internet tend to approach women as a homogenous group and fails to truly account for the unique way in which contexts and circumstances might impact women’s ability to access and use the Internet. As a result, the BPF community in 2017 decided to look at the specific barriers faced by specific communities of women - including women with disabilities, refugee women, young women, elderly women, LGBTQI women, women in rural areas, and indigenous women.
The survey inputs received from women working, representing or advocating for the various sub-groups brought out the specific needs and challenges in social and economic development facilitated by Internet access. It also detailed various initiatives at regional and national levels that are addressing some of these challenges. Connecting with the community, accessing information, and promoting educational opportunities were some of the key needs for the various sub-groups. The survey highlighted lack of infrastructure, insufficient local and relevant content, and social and cultural norms as major hindrances to Internet access for refugee women, indigenous women, queer women and young women. It also stressed the need for gender-focused policies and the sustainable grassroot-level initiatives to enhance inclusivity.
Join the BPF and its panel at this working session to discuss the BPF’s preliminary findings and recommendations for further exploration, and the ways in which stakeholders can support the work in addressing barriers to meaningful access faced by specific communities of women.
Moderator: Jac SM Kee
BPF Rapporteur: Mili Semlani
Discussants: Anri van der Spuy (RIA/ISOC, South Africa), Bruna Santos (Youth Observatory, Brazil), Smita Vanniyar (Point of View, India), Chenai Chair (Research ICT Africa, South Africa), Samantha Eisenhauer (UNHCR), Doreen Bogan-Martin (ITU/EQUALS)