>> Hello, hello, is this working? Can I ask everybody to take your seats, please so that we can start the main session on gender?
>> BISHAKHA DATTA: Hello, can we sit down, please? So we can start the session? The gavel works. Hello, everybody, and welcome to the main session on gender. Which is Gender Inclusion and the Future of the Internet. I'm going to ask, this is a significant moment for gender and internet governance. Because after ten years, this is the first main session on gender. I'm going to ask that we applaud.
[ Applause ]
Thank you. And my name is Bishakha Datta. I'm from civil society. And my co‑moderator.
>> EMILAR GANDHI: I'm Emilar Gandhi, and I work for Facebook.
>> BISHAKHA DATTA: When the first main session on human rights was held at the internet governance forum and that led, along with other things, to the recognition of human rights both offline and online at the human rights council. So our hope is with this kind of session, we will be able to signal the importance of integrating gender as a core dimension of internet policy and governance, which has been happening every year at the global internet governance forum, as well as at regional and internet governance forum.
So with that in mind, we just want to run you through a little bit of how the session is going to be organized. Basically, the session is broken into four chunks. The first three chunks are what we're calling 1A, B and C. And all of these, actually, relate to key issues and challenges related to gender, human rights, access, internet policy, artificial intelligence, et cetera.
And this will take us the first sort of one hour, 15 minutes or so. After that, we switch to the last segment, which looks at gender and internet governance. And we're going to try and actually shift around the ‑‑ where we sort of do the segments a little bit so that the first three segments will have interventions of three minutes each from our fantastic lineup of speakers.
And then the fourth segment, which is on gender and internet governance, we're going to run more like a talk show. And Emilar and I will model different segments. We're going to alternate with each other. So with this, let me hand over to Emilar to take it forward.
>> EMILAR GANDHI: Thank you. And we don't want to waste a lot of time talking. We do have experienced speakers, experts in their own fields and they can introduce themselves later on. But before we even start with the speakers, we have David Kaye for us. And just in opening and let us, everyone in the room know why is this significant? Why should people stay in the room for the next two hours?
>> DAVID KAYE: Okay. That's a lot of pressure. Maybe we should shut the doors, lock the doors because I don't want you to leave while I'm talking, or when anybody else is talking. I just want to say a few things about this. First of all, I'm David Kaye, I'm Freedom of Opinion and Expression. And one of the things I've been very lucky about ‑‑ (audio stopped) working in a space of freedom of expression and gender and gender rights.
And I want to say a couple of things about this. I don't know if I can frame the discussion. That's a heavy burden. But I think there are a couple of points to make. So the first one and one of the reasons why I think, I think it's so important to have organizations, like APC, active in this space is that there are two ‑‑ it's often seen that the two kinds of issues that are competing in some way. So on the one hand, you have gender‑based violence. And then, competing with that is freedom of expression.
And I think that one of the really brilliant insights that many of the people in this room and I think people on this panel have been saying for a long time that APC has been really essential at coordinating is that expression and protection are not independent of one another.
And that, really the first place to be ‑‑ the first way to think about these kinds of issues is not in terms of a victim of gender‑based violence as purely a victim, but as also an agent in her own right or his own right.
But that, I think, is a critical perspective that APC and others have brought to the table. And I hope it's a way that we can think about the issue over the course of this ‑‑ of this discussion. Although, I'm leaving, I say we in the genetic sense. That's the first point I want to make is that the gender‑based violence and expression, don't need to be add odds with one another. That protection and expression can go hand‑in‑hand. The second part of that is that as we're thinking about the race to deal with ‑‑ in particular, online abuse or online violence ‑‑ that we need to be really careful in ensuring that the steps that we take or that we're asking either companies or governments to take are on the one hand targeted to addressing the real serious threats that are gender‑based online. Also, don't do so in a way that disproportionally impact the rights that all people enjoy online. And in particular, that have a gender oriented.
Couple of generic examples, but examples nonetheless. In an effort to deal with problems of, let's say, I think it's important to make sure that policy and rules target that problem and don't give governments the opportunity to target other issues such as the sharing of information about sexually reproductive health.
And one of the things that I think we've seen all too often is that rules that might have a sound basis and are well‑intentioned are often misused by governments to deny rights that have to do with public health, let's say or sexual health.
And so, we need to be very careful on this as an example where the basic rules of freedom of expression, the basic principles of freedom of expression can really help us. And I'll close with that and maybe this will be my last kind of framing.
So article 19 on the covenant provides that everybody enjoys the right to secrecy and impart information and ideas of all kinds regardless of frontiers and through any media. It's a brilliant formulation in many ways. And if people have heard me say this before, I'm sorry, but it seems as though the language is actually from about 1948 from the universal declaration. It's language that also feels right in the digital age. It's regardless of frontiers and it's through any media. Governments also have the ability to restrict freedom of expression, not opinion, but expression. And can only do so when they (audio stopped). To ensure that those putting burdens on expression justify that there's burdens meet those three conditions so they're provided by law. They're clear, they identify the specific kind of expression that is problematic. They don't provide excessive discretion to governments or other or companies or other kind of regulators.
We shouldn't just rest or allow governments or companies to say it's necessary to do this because of X, Y or Z. We want them to show us why there needs to be transparency about why a particular restriction is necessary and proportionate and that proportionality part means definitely tackle gender‑based abuse, but don't use that as a pretext to target other kinds of expression that might be offensive for reasons of public morals or religious bias or something that might be offensive but not within the framework of human rights law.
Finally, ensure that the actual restriction is for a legitimate purpose. And too often, we see governments and, I think, companies adopting restrictions that don't meet, at least one of those conditions. So I think that this is an absolutely essential discussion. It's a discussion that I think can be important not just for thinking about gender and online rights, but also, can be a discussion that has spillover effect into all sorts of other kinds of expression. And thankfully, because of the people associated with APC and the organization itself, there's a framework for thinking about rights and expression that is sensitive, both to the violence and abuses out there, but also, to the rights that people have to access information and ideas of all kinds.
So thank you. And I apologize, but I'm going to speak and run.
>> BISHAKHA DATTA: Before you run, we want to open this up for maybe two questions for you before you run from the floor.
>> EMILAR GANDHI: Any questions?
>> DAVID KAYE: All questions were answered. I see a lot of people in this room who always have a question, so, shoot away.
>> Can I ask you a question, David?
>> DAVID KAYE: Yes.
>> All questions answered cannot go unanswered. Yeah. No, what I wanted to ask you, actually, is that I know you have rarely talked about, you know, freedom of expression. Like, that when there is gender‑based online violence, that itself affects freedom of expression for those who experience gender‑based violence online, right?
So in that context, you know, how do we get platforms, policymakers or government processes to recognize that in sort of ‑‑ or even laws? You know, how can that be put into practice or something that I wanted to ask you.
>> DAVID KAYE: So, there's not enough time to get into specifics, and I think the whole discussion will focus on that, which I think is really valuable. But I think there's at least two parts of an answer ‑‑ at least put us on the path to an answer. So one is, I think, if we're talking about companies, they need to engage with civil society. I think that the companies and some have been doing this more and more because of a recognition that they can't make rules in the absence of the actual stakeholders, right?
So I think that's important as a process issue is that people in this room need to be involved in that kind of discussion. And particularly, if we're thinking about this space as being almost like public space, if not actually public space. I mean, many of us consider our interactions in social media to be more or less our public space, our interactions, our ability depends on having that kind of access that if we're going to ‑‑ if they're going to talk about themselves in terms of a kind of a public function. And if we're going to think of them as providing that space, that should also include making the rules not exactly the way democratically accountable governments do. But also, making the rules with a kind of deep, regular input from those who are most affected by those rules.
So I think that's important: And then, the second part, which is connected because you can't engage if you don't have information is that we need to be advocating for maximum transparency. And not just transparency in terms of the rules but transparency of process, transparency of cases, of how things of examples of how things are being taken down. I think those two things together can actually provide better ‑‑ a better chance that the specific rules on the merits will be more consistent with what people in this room might think are how those rules should be constructed.
>> EMILAR GANDHI: Thank you so much. We can release you, now.
>> DAVID KAYE: Sorry.
>> EMILAR GANDHI: The doors can be unlocked now. Yes. And over to you.
>> BISHAKHA DATTA: Okay. We move on to the next segment, which is looking at key issues and challenges. And we have three speakers with us. Our first speaker is a researcher with a think tank. And Chenai, I wanted to ask you a question related to your work and the question of access. What are the key challenges and what are we missing in the debate? Are there blind spots we're not looking at that could take us to sort of a more meaningful solution? Other questions, actors, initiatives not part of the conversation? And how can IGF facilitate this?
>> CHENAI CHAIR: Thank you very much. I thought this was one question. But ‑‑ I think at least the transcripts are showing me that there are six questions in there. Firstly, thank you for having me on this panel. It's actually an honor. Because the first time I joined IGF, seeing gender sessions, they had been hidden in the back room on the last day, everyone's gone shopping and you don't know it exists.
But to respond to your question, what we have seen in terms of the gender issue is that there have been initiatives and policymaking processes that focus on ensuring the issue of gender's addressed. There is some mechanism that allows for the gender question to be properly addressed.
However, I think the biggest prime spot has been that it seems to more of a one‑size‑fits‑all policy. And I know this is, perhaps, maybe because more of the context of which I'm coming from the different African countries I look at really has been understanding gender from a very heterosexual perspective. Looking at the differences between men and women. But there hasn't been much in terms of looking at the differences amongst women.
And so, then, this morning, we had a session that looked at the different subgroups. And some of the subgroups we looked at, which were rural women, youth, women from refugee camps, just some of these groups. So I think what's definitely missing is the way in which we approach the gender question.
There needs to be an unpacking of what these forums understand to be a gender question. Because when you come to the global IGF, you can have this main gender session and it's all dedicated to gender.
When you go to your regional IGF, you have gender packed with something else. Once again, it's, I think, when it comes to the ‑‑ access question and priorities of issues it has been how do we approach the gender question. That's the group that has been missing. We've been working in siloed conversations. People working on research, working on their own, tech sector, working on their own to address the gender question or people in the civil society space are working on their own.
There hasn't been as much crossover as necessary to ensure that the conversation is similar and there isn't a repetition of work. I think, also, it's about involving the question of access to not simply be about access to resources, but to actually understand what does access mean to the type of group we want to focus on.
So for us, we've been trying to coin this topic around meaningful access where it actually is defined by the groups of people that we're trying to understand and our researchers understanding what is it that you do online? Why do you go ‑‑ why do you access these services? And what do you intend on doing when you get access? I think that's one way we will then understand why is it that when in cases of gender‑based violence or in cases of where people would describe as bad content, we have women or different groups that then decide to not be online.
So then, we can improve access to get people online, but then, what happens when to access you get is not exactly what you want and you end up leaving the online space. That's my intervention.
>> BISHAKHA DATTA: Thank you very much. Our next speaker is Doreen Bogden. She's the most senior ranked woman at ITU. And Doreen is also the founder over the Gentec awards. Since ITU has been championing the work around leadership in the area of gender and ICTs, as well, could we hear a little bit from you about the lessons that you've ‑‑ that ITU has learned in this process? Some of the insights and what we can bring to bear IGF has the result of that?
>> DOREEN BOGDAN: Thank you very much, it's a pleasure to be here. 2017 has been an important year for the digital gender divide. As you mentioned, we have succeeded in being a named session here at the IGF, that's big progress. We also succeeded in having a reference in the G20 this year. And in the women's 20, that's big progress. And most recently, we had a whole paragraph included in the ICT resolution of the second committee in the general assembly.
What's next? Our next big challenge? Our next big challenge is to have no more gender sessions because we actually have no more gender gap when we talk about digital. I think that's my hope. My hope for the future. I just wanted to touch briefly on the access gap. Because we know that we still have a gap. That there are, when we look at the gap, it's 12% less women than men that are using the internet. We know that the gap globally is growing. It's growing most in Africa where more men are getting connected and fewer women.
The gap is about 25% fewer women online than men. And we know that when we look at least developed countries, the gap is even bigger where there's only 1 in 7 women that are using the internet. And this is really a big concern. There is a lack of disaggregated data. And we believe that we can't solve problems that we can't see. So we really do need to address the data gap. We also know that chronic underinvestment in rural areas actually has a disproportionate negative impact on women living in rural areas.
But we believe that there are lots of things that we can do. There's lots of solutions. And when I talk about the solutions, I want to mention three names. Mala, Kenley and Aurora. Last night, they were here and they were awarded at our equals in tech award ceremony. And this morning, just before the best practice forum, they joined us for a panel and told us their stories.
And what I found interesting from their stories as one of them mentioned, even small initiatives can do big things. These three women have done incredible things in their home countries. With very little funding, very little even political support. But they were motivated and they were inspired to make a difference, and they have. Mala has created the Lebanese alternative learning where she's focusing on Syrian refugees. It's very much centered around access.
And this morning, she shared with us some of the challenges that she faced. And I think a lot of us can understand those challenges linked to the digital gender gap. She highlighted some of the social, cultural issues. It's not just about connectivity. There are lots of other issues that we need to overcome. About how to convince teachers. So getting the message out there and how to convince educators the problem with devices and the cost of devices and what she's done.
And also, the problem with local languages. So I think it was really great that she could share with us some of the work that she's been able to do in Lebanon assisting Syrian refugees. We also heard from Kenley. She's from Costa Rica and she's looking at ways to bring women and girls in the technology sector.
When we look at the digital gender gap from the ITU, we break it into skills, access and leadership. So she's taking on the leadership side and really trying to figure out ways to get girls and women interested in the ICT infrastructure. Coding for moms, girls, digital skills training to help develop future women entrepreneurs.
And then, specifically on the skills side and that's where Roya comes in, she's from Afghanistan. And she is the founder and CEO of the digital citizen fund. And what she has been working on is establishing sustainable, economic livelihoods for women and girls in Afghanistan. And she has focused on digital literacy programs and making them very much sustainable and community‑focused.
And what was great to hear from her is that financial literacy was such a driving component, and she was able to overcome a lot of barriers in traditional communities because she showed that by giving them the digital skills, making them financially literate, they were able to generate income.
She gave an example of a 16‑year‑old girl that had 25 employees. So I know I am short on time, but I thought it would be good to share with you three names. Three specific cases, three amazing women that we awarded here at the IGF. And we heard from this morning because that's how we can really make a difference. And through our equals partnership, where we're working with civil society, the private sector, governments and academic institutions, we believe that we can all come together, share experiences, share know‑how and really make a difference on the ground. Thank you.
>> BISHAKHA DATTA: Thank you, Doreen. I just wanted to say that thank you for also reminding us that small initiatives from the ground‑up can actually sort of have big outcomes or do big things. And I think that's a valuable insight that we take away.
Our next speaker in this particular segment which looks more at one of the key issues and challenges, which is access is Joyce Donyez, and I know you've been doing work with engaging in the sustainable development goal which is the one around gender equality. At the same time, I think ISOC has shown some interest in working on the issue of gender and mainstreaming gender much more.
So Joyce, if you could speak to some of those.
>> Thank you very much. As you may know, the fundamental goal of the internet society is to bring an open, globally connected trusted and secure internet for everyone everywhere. And that includes, obviously, all genders.
Now, what we see is that the latest internet society reports that was focusing on the future of the internet has identified that there's some divide in terms of people. People are divided between hopes and fears regarding the future.
But there's also gender divide. So, we know that there are 200 million fewer women online than men. And we heard some figures already. But in the developing world, women are 25% less likely than men to have access. And when you look at sub-Saharan Africa, the numbers jump up. One of the discussions we had, amongst others, is that technology in and of itself is not really causing inequality in gender.
We need to look at it from a broader perspective, as well. We need to look at it from a social, economical and cultural aspect, as well. And it's necessary to have proper infrastructure, which brings us back to the access, obviously. We need to have access to the internet before we can start having the conversation.
But it needs to be affordable, we need to have affordability taken into account. And we need to go beyond all of that and look at development issues from a broader perspective. We need to look at what happens after people get online, after women and girls get online. And that brings me to the meaningful access that we mentioned earlier already. How do you use the internet? How does it make your life better? How does it put in the central of that technology? Crucial in this effort is also the role of role models. And we've seen some amazing examples yesterday, thanks to the equals in tech awards. Internet society has also ran a campaign on shining the lights to actually shine some light on those amazing projects that all of these amazing young girls and women are doing around the world.
And this is bringing some inspiration to other women to probably step up and do the same. We need to make sure we build that community over success stories and attract more women in that. And internet society, I'm very proud to say has actually a special interest group on women that was created and launched last month.
So I encourage all of you to join and be part of those discussions. But talking of ‑‑ talking of role models, I just wanted to highlight one. We have an IGF ambassador here this week. Her name is Josephine. She's working in Nairobi. And she told me her story. And after bringing connectivity to the slums and actually providing some opportunities and capacity building for women to start their businesses and to grow their businesses. They also realize that there's need to expand beyond capacity building and how to use the internet. But also, as mentioned earlier is to look at financial opportunities.
Where do you get the finances to, then, actually expand your businesses? How do you take advantage? Fully take advantage of the access you have? And how do you continue to build on that? The last points I wanted to make is that we have to continue to fight because the gender equality starts from very young age. And if I may, I want to share a very short, personal story.
I have a young boy, turning 6 in January. And he came back home. My husband is amazingly supportive at home, we talk about gender equality, girls and boys are the same, you know, really make a big deal out of that at home.
One day he comes home and his favorite color is red. And started drawing and he picked a color, and he's like, mom, I don't like this one. And I look at the color and it's pink.
And he says, that's a girl's color. I don't want this. I looked at him and it was a color like any other. And I said, it's actually your favorite color mixed with some white. And he looked at me puzzled and he's like, oh, so it's my favorite color mixed with something else. I can live with that. And continued drawing. It dawned on me that we have to actually fight the pink. We have to fight from a very young age. We have to fight the fact that pink is just for girls. But technology is just for men. And that access needs to be given to a certain part of the population.
And that opportunity actually should not be pink, it should be red and white. And it should, actually, make sure all of us have the same access to the opportunity that the internet is providing. Thank you.
>> BISHAKHA DATTA: Thank you very much, Joyce, for reminding us, again, about the need to actually go much deeper when we talk about gender and internet governance, right to the roots of patriarchy. We decided we would do this whole session in a way where we could get audience participation at different points of time.
So now, I would like to invite two or three questions from the floor directed at any of our speakers. Or comments or thoughts.
>> First and foremost, I would like to extend my thanks to the panelists. It is an honor to take part in a key session on gender. Our work in the permanent mission and embassy of Cuba. (Audio stopped) to do with women's rights as the Cuba negotiator to set up a gender identity for women. And so it's an honor for me to have represented ‑‑ representative to negotiate gender issues when I was posted in the mission in New York. My question goes to the three panelists. But more particularly, to Ms. Bogden, I'd like to ask her about what the conference could do next year in October in Dubai. We know that this is an important conference of the union whereby decisions are taken for the next four years.
I'd like to know what your view of this is. We do know that the ITU has made a great deal of progress when it comes to gender policies. But I'd like to know what your opinion, your views, what should member states do at the conference to be held in Dubai next year? Next October, thank you very much.
>> BISHAKHA DATTA: Would you like to answer that? Or if there are a couple of questions, we could take all of them together and get the panelists to answer. I see another hand up.
>> Okay. So I would like to live in a world where genders are accepted. The thing that ‑‑ we're not the same, not only women from rural community or refugee, we're not all the same. And being LGBT and LBT, it's really making a big difference in the possibility to access.
The legislation of digitalization of people's models tell the difference and difference means not accessing. So need to really talk about those the body ‑‑ if I'm from the global side and India's doing a lot of this, and we hear and read a lot about the challenge of person surviving that fighting. Because I need to be part of benefit. But I'm at the mercy of the legislation, the social stigma.
And also, would like technology, the technology comes from a specific place of power, which is ‑‑ it's capitalist and it's for profit. And it's ‑‑ we need to challenge many things. And the pink is very specific way of thinking. And I think it's important that we understand that it is not just generic percent of the world that is not connected. It's a specific approach.
>> BISHAKHA DATTA: If there are no more questions, may I ask the panelists to respond? I'm so sorry. Please go ahead. Yeah.
>> Thank you to the authority for the support to women as member of ISOC. It's important to take action to issues to gender and women. And invite to collaborate and work together with the group, women and society. Seek to collaborate empowered women. Thank you.
>> BISHAKHA DATTA: Great. We will now ask the three panelists to respond. Okay. If you could make it brief because we're going to do three questions and then move on. We don't want to open it too much at this point. Yeah? Yeah. Go ahead, but really short.
>> My apologies. From the government of Uruguay. I have a question addressed to Joyce, in particular. The gender digital divide doesn't only apply to technology, but also to other policy areas. In Uruguay, there's a serious problem for women to study science or technology careers. And I would like to know whether there are any examples across the world whereby this divide in access to technological education information has been successful if you were aware of any cases. Thank you.
>> BISHAKHA DATTA: Thank you. And we now hear from the panelists. Would anybody like to start? Go ahead, Doreen. Yeah.
>> Thank you very much, maybe just a quick comment on the last question from Uruguay. There are a number of examples where we have seen a major shift even in specific university programs where they've been able to go from sort of 10%, 20% women in STEM to now graduating classes of over 50%. Harvey Mudd is one good example in the United States.
If I could touch quickly on the question from my friend from Cuba. Next year, the ITU will hold their plenty conference, the main government body of the international telecommunications union where the elected management team is elected. Governing council is elected. We have a resolution that's linked to gender. And we recognize girls in ICT day, the fourth Thursday of the fourth month. And we also recognize a number of other gender‑related activities that we carry out primarily in our development sector.
So it's likely that we would be updating that to reflect some of the decisions at the world telecommunications development conference. But I would also like to mention that it's an opportunity for member states. The process is member‑state driven. They should be making concrete proposals on this issue to the conference. We will encourage member states to bring gender‑balanced delegates.
We actually track the number of women participants. We started to track the number of times women actually take the microphone at our meetings. We would also encourage member states to nominate women as chairs of committees of working groups, of drafting groups.
It's very important to get more women involved in the discussions and the negotiation process that takes place within the international telecommunications union.
And finally, I also wanted to mention we're running an open consultation right now on the digital gender gap for one of our council working groups. So I would invite all of you to contribute to that process. It's an open process, the deadline, I believe, closes on the third of January. Thank you.
>> BISHAKHA DATTA: Would you like to say something?
>> CHENAI CHAIR: Thank you. I would like to respond to the question around the privilege. Respond specifically around the question of privilege and technology as well as the right to access and technology. I think for me, personally, what's always missing from these conversations is that the context that people exist in determines what the effect of technology will have.
So even if you provide me with technology ‑‑ but if I come from a family that insists that technology is the devil, it's going to be pointless. And I think for me, personally, recognizing the privilege as a young woman who has grown up in a family that has allowed me ‑‑ my role to go back and understand the experiences of the other young women and how, then, do we make sure that what is their desired when it comes to accessing technology? What is it they want to achieve? The research we've been doing has actually highlighted that the biggest misconception of young people always being on social media is they're wasting time.
What we found in one of the entrepreneurial communities in Tanzania and Nigeria is they're using these platforms to solve their ‑‑ they're using these platforms to push their businesses or hassling for one thing or another. I think when it comes to the position of privilege and technology, it's about backing down from our own understanding of what it means for people to have access, of what is meaningful access. That also responds to the question around the divide to access of technology and the policies that there needs to be a focus beyond simply providing technology, but actually breaking down some of the cultural norms that make it impossible for people to be able to access technology.
I think there's a disregard from policymakers to probably not want to engage in the other core issues that make it impossible for young women or women in the rural areas to actually make use of the internet. So, for example, in one of our case studies that we did, we found that women in rural areas were most likely not to be online most of the time because there was the fear of gender‑based violence. And this is not gender‑based online, this is offline. For the sake of peace, you don't go online, but then the question becomes, our tech policy initiatives working together with women units or gender rights ministries?
That's my contribution.
>> BISHAKHA DATTA: Be brief, please.
>> Just a couple of comments to go back to what it was specifically. There's quite a few initiatives that we see are handled through community efforts. There's ‑‑ an initiative that happened in turkey. For children, young girls, we have girls in ICT, which is obviously another initiative that many of us are aware of. We have the first women IGF in Sri Lanka this year, through the internet society chapter, as well. Those are initiatives that actually make a difference in the national perception. Now, having said that, what we also see is thinking of the SDGs is that we looked at SDG5 and 4 as we think that education is very much linked.
We had a discussion with a number of ministries around education and ICT. And what we see is that push it back the other way, it's one of the good examples here is that in some of the countries, we start seeing, now, national initiatives to bring ICT and in education. And those initiatives, for example, provide access to ICT to young women at an early age. We see that makes a difference. I don't have exact numbers here, but we see in the choice of education, improving the access to young girls and encouraging them to keep an open mind on where they want to go in the future and addressing ICT issues. And participating in the discussions around IG issues.
And so, I think, there's some very successful initiatives already. And I think we need to continue to push them and show the success stories to the other countries so that we can continue to implement that. Thank you.
>> BISHAKHA DATTA: Thank you very much to our panelists, and we will now give them a round of applause and move on to the next ‑‑
[ Applause ]
I think in the interest of time after the next segment, we won't immediately take questions. We will do two segments together and then take questions because we want to make sure our speakers can have the time to say what they want. And we would request all speakers to limit their intervention to three minutes. Thank you.
>> Yes, so can we have ‑‑ we'll combine the two segments.
>> EMILAR GANDHI: Thank you to our panelists, we'll move on and limit your interventions to three minutes. We're going to look at frameworks for engaging with internet policy. Looking at human rights, intersexuality and gender‑based violence and looking at innovation and imaging technologies with regards to gender inclusion.
I'll start with Veronica. Please introduce yourself when you give your intervention. Why is it important to build internet governance on international human rights? You have done a lot of work on human rights and women's rights. Why is it important to build that on internet governance standards? Can you give us how the mechanisms have addressed women's rights, gender equality and the internet issues?
>> VERONICA BIRGA: Thank you very much. I work at the human rights office. And I really, really honored to be able to be part of this discussion today. From the perspective of the human rights office, I wanted to make a few points. The first point that's already been made is the online space is not a free ride space. Applicable offline are also applicable online. And this has been acknowledged by the general assembly and the human rights council.
And it means that the human rights framework and the work of the human rights mechanisms must be seen as helpful source of guidance to states and private content is to ensure that ICTs support human rights including gender equality. The second point is that as human rights mechanisms have pointed out, those suffering from margination and exclusion offline also tend to suffer from the same online ‑‑ and the use of ICTs has become critical for the realization for a number of human rights.
We've heard, of course, about the right to freedom of expression, the right to freedom of assembly. But also, the right to education, the right to health and the right to have access to economic opportunities and many others. So the obligation of states to promote access from ICTs can be derived from those rights.
And states may not have the capacity to immediately provide universal access to ICTs. The human rights framework places an obligation on states to address the gender digital divide. Because the gender digital divide entrenches, perpetuates and aggravates discrimination against women and girls. It is a human rights concern that must be addressed.
The third point that I wanted to make is that the guidance provided by human rights mechanisms to combat discrimination and violence offline is an extremely useful tool to address discrimination and violence online. And so the obstacles to women's access and use of ICTs or public participation in the digital space are the same, often, that the obstacles to women's participation in public space offline. It can be lack of adequate financial resources. It can be limitations on freedom of movement. It can be gender stereotypes as we've heard before.
And these differences exist not by chance, but because there is gender‑based discrimination that states have an obligation to address. And the first point that I wanted to make just to conclude my opening remarks is that we can apply the lessons we've learned through years of struggle to promote gender equality on women's rights offline to efforts to promote gender equality online.
And there are many lessons that we could discuss. But I just wanted to mention a few overarching lessons. The first is that without targeted measures to address discrimination, exclusion and privilege tend to perpetuate themselves. Yet, enough attention to gender equality in intergovernance policies or enough attention to ICTs in gender equality policies.
The second lesson, which is also linked to the first is that many women, as we've heard before suffered from intersecting forms of discrimination that result into specific obstacle and needs that must be deliberately addressed in these policies.
And the third is that efforts to promote gender equality online must look at women as subjects of rights and not as objects of protection. Because the protectionality can be dangerous and result in keeping women off the online space. Just in terms of the work of the human rights mechanisms, we can elaborate on that before.
Even in the universal periodic review in the second cycle, 104 recommendations on human rights online. Now, the work of the human rights mechanisms with the exception of those looking at specific gender equality and women's rights has not necessarily been informed by gender considerations. And so, there's certainly a need for closer partnership between the IGF constituencies and the human rights mechanism so they can strengthen their guidance in this regard.
>> EMILAR GANDHI: We look forward to the inputs of the member you mentioned just now. And in your experience, has the IGF successfully addressed issues of intersectionality in the policy discussions? And not just this IGF or the other IGF has been part of that. Have you seen the outcomes from the IGFs. Have they been successful? And just introduce yourself, please.
>> Thank you. In some ways, my remarks build upon what David Kaye actually just talked about an hour ago. And in order to address your question, I think there is a lot of discussion about intersectionality and about the issues that intersect. But the danger, also, is on the flip side of that that these discussions can take place in silos.
And so I just want to flag maybe six general intersections. I know I have only ‑‑ well, now I only have two minutes and 30 seconds. I think it's important to flesh out the intersections between sexual orientation and gender identity. . And that's really the first intersection, right? Isn't necessarily always reflected in our conversations at IGF and beyond. And including trans‑women that may identify as bisexual so on and so forth. In a way that's already ‑‑ it's heartening to know it's already recognized at an intergovernmental level for establishment in 2016 of the sexual orientation independent mandate. The question for us is, I think, what kind of trend lines and what kind of concerns arise at this intersection.
And so, those are my other five intersections. And the second one, really, is ‑‑ the intersection of sexual orientation, gender identity and the exercise of economic, social and cultural rights, right? Which we don't necessarily really see getting kind of a lot of ‑‑ getting a lot of discussion in the civil and political right space and in the digital right space.
You know, we did kind of an analysis of the communications that was put out by the special rapporteur's mandate. Many of the human rights defenders in this space were not just working on sexual identity issues narrowly conceived, but many of them, also, work in areas of reproductive health on HIV, access to health care sex workers, artistic expression, so on and so forth. And so, we see certainly a very close intersection there.
We see an intersection between offline and online violence against people of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities, right? And one of the communications that we reflects very clearly, it was about clear activists who had participated in a diversity parade in September 2012 in Brazil. And their participation led to a series of escalating online attacks culminating in fake Facebook profiles being set up in their name and comments that were not from them. But the perpetrators emasculating. And you can see the clear crossover between online and offline violence.
And this brings me to the fourth interception between state obligations and social norms, right? We not only see restrictions from states on these groups, but we also see there's a vacuum in terms of state protection of human rights. We see that states go silence when clear communities report abuse and violence. And particularly, in the form of inadequate and insensitive investigatory measures. And we also see that the legislative and policy frameworks that restrict LGBT spaces also contribute or facilitate discrimination and hatred.
And so, kind of the fifth and sixth intersections all take together as I'm running out of time, many of the issues I discuss at IGF, like terms of service and transparency on platforms as David was talking about earlier. Most particularly, affect people who are working at this intersection. And the last intersection is really that we need to methodologically think about policy discussions but introduce social signs and behavioral science approaches that can ground the policy assumptions we are making. They do really important work. The policy. The gaps we are seeing today.
>> Thank you for that insightful input into the conversation. We'll move on to Patricia from the floor. Or she can ‑‑ to come to ‑‑ Patricia from the ‑‑ yes. Are you ready now? Or you can speak from there. And what I would like you to address is online gender based violence. How is this ‑‑ has it been a key space to drive this in online gender based violence and what has surfaced in the discussions.
>> Thank you very much. I'm not sure I can answer that because from perspective of the committee. I'm a member of the committee on the elimination of discrimination against women. And we deal with 24 countries per year. State parties and receive shadow reports from NGOs. Come from the NGO side. We have been trying to address gender‑based violence online in a number of our general recommendations. And maybe surprisingly for some of you to ‑‑ that the text is not in the general recommendation 35 on gender‑based violence but on a different recommendation. A new one, number 36 on women and girl's access to education.
And then, we have a whole panel of series of paragraphs on cyber bullying, for instance. And the responsibility of states to prevent these phenomena. I think that's what I wanted to bring. The one on access to justice and showing ‑‑ wait, I'll try and find the ‑‑ we've been dealing with the obstacles faced in the collection of evidence relating to emerging violations of women's rights appearing online and the use of ICT and new social media. We're trying in our guidance to state parties to address these forms of violence in addition to the more ‑‑ well, to the offline very numerous forms that we deal with at every dialogue. Thank you.
>> EMILAR GANDHI: Thank you very much. I'll answer any questions from the floor, now we move on to the new innovation technologies where we have Titi and Desiree is the last speaker. And what I want to find out, Maria, is what challenges do imaging in data‑driven technologies present for women's rights in gender equality in the new age, in the digital age? Thank you. The first and the first most important challenge that the new technology and, in particular, that technologies confront in relationship to gender, consideration, is precisely the idea of make real subject. Women make the subject and not the object as we have heard before. Also from Veronica when it comes to rights. To really plug technology into the values we insert in the technology. Truly feminist approach by the sign. The considerations start to the point to acknowledge that the technology is not neutral. Hardly recognized in a more concrete way.
Looking into procedures and approaches to build technology that really take into consideration the fact that human we are very diverse, in general. But in particular, gender make us different in the way in which we express our needs, sensitive and a lot of many different kind of things that are not concerned today when we feed technology with the consideration that have been traditionally dominated by a more male approach.
And this is very particularly important by ‑‑ for the fact that we are currently relying ‑‑ relying more and more in decision-making without being sure in how this technology is. Someone else pointed out before, we need to, first, have more transparency to understand which criteria are feeding the ongoing technology. I want thing to point out, also, is to come back to the point that Valentina made before, that when we are talking about gender and we are talking about women, we are not talking about ‑‑ we are talking about a bunch of different realities.
They are women in the context, they are indigenous women. They are women with sexuality. Again, when we construct the technologies, we need to acknowledge the diversity. And we need to acknowledge that diversity requires a process. A process in which this technology how it can evolve with a more comprehensive approach of how all these different realities evolve over the time. And provide mechanism to make the corrections in the system to have this into consideration.
The last point I want to make, it's that usually when it comes to women and the use of technology and the data‑driven technology, we focus too much on the part of how to address the online violence that in general women confront. It's something we haven't fixed. At the same time, I think that many women are just tired to just focus in the resistance. And they want to also have, like, a more positive approach in the sense to have more opportunities to build their own empowerment to the access, the real access that someone was talking before. Not just the connection, but their ability to be the subject of the creation over the content that they need to see available for them. In that sense, I invite you to review the report, with a mapping out a lot of initiatives in Latin America. And you can find there a lot of these approaches that acknowledge the diversity of women and how they are trying to build a space and connect the technology. And the opportunity to fulfill their needs.
>> EMILAR GANDHI: Thank you very much, let's move to Titi, you are the head of policy and government relations. And one of the inclusive models that that private sector or your company can develop and support ‑‑
>> It's super exciting to actually have a main session on gender. I don't know how many people are sitting in the room recall the caucus and making a case. I see you for the inclusion for gender issues and to get to the point where we are at sincerely is amazing. And I'm super humbled to be a part of the process and to be able to have this conversation with you today. When you indicate you have new challenges, it more or less, begins to distract from the fact that we've been faced with so much that has not been addressed.
We've been given a platform that has made it exponentially more painful to be a woman. I think we have a lot of experts sitting in the room. I'll do my best not to ‑‑ the question is, how do we ensure that the strategies are being integrated into what is being innovated or built in such a way that we are not trying to redress them. But we're actually making sure we don't even arise at all. And for me, I think that is where the crucial theme is. How do we adopt, how do we ensure that the new technologies actually enhance our rights. Have we always had body shaming? Yes. Is this more painful when it's shared any other platforms without mentioning any? Definitely.
So one of the things that we see and I say we, that we see to address this is, I believe, inferred by the last speaker, is STEAM. I didn't say STEM. How many people have heard of STEEM? Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
It means bringing in education, science/technology education. But including arts, the social sciences. We cannot speak about it too much, ICT, one of the things that we have found and as I can still ‑‑ right? Young, black African women sitting at this table. The young part, I'm not sure about.
As one who is able to identify all those nomenclatures, one thing I find is when I search for things that are African or black in nature, the feedback I get does not reflect my reality. It's the same with the women. And sincerely, done with blaming the folks who design it. What we have found as Google that you can best address this particular challenge is ensuring that we are actually able to design ourselves.
For us and for others. That for me is the biggest way we can create change. We can create change by addressing the policy concerns but being very specific in terms of the kinds of interventions we put in place.
But if you want to be a part of the process that creates that lasting change, that addresses new technologies, that looks to the conversations around artificial intelligence, et cetera, is we borrow some of the GDPR has done, which means, we think about the future. Which means, we need to be able to educate and include in the education that we give young girls irrespective of their present realities the ability to connect with and be a part of the creation process that is new technologies.
I'm out of time.
>> Thank you. 15 years ago, some companies were not even born, that we'll not mention by name. Can we have Desiree issue online now?
>> Thank you for inviting me to be a part of this panel. I will start with agreeing with what Titi has said if you can hear me well. In terms of how to address some of the challenges that we are facing. And specifically, I will be saying a few words about the data‑driven technologies and algorithmic, digital identity cards and what kind of card problems and challenges do they pose for gender equality in the digital age?
Again, I have to agree that this is not a new problem, but amplified in many, many ways. So maybe I'll just start with giving you a few examples and then, perhaps, closing with a few recommendations of what could be done.
First examples have to do with a gender, technology gender biased and then go into the gender decision-making by humans and artificial intelligence and the algorithmic decision making that is critical. And important to be addressed as an issue. Maybe our first example would be that in January this year, I went and visited the internet of women things house. And this house has been designed to take into requirement from women. And the idea behind it is very simple.
It is that many of our technological devices today and good gadgets that we may also buy including internet of things gadgets may actually be designed by men, for men. In order for things to benefit life or addressing needs of other groups. But that's something that we're familiar with. Something that is maybe more surprising is how the new report that has found that ‑‑ this is a big, huge repository of open source software, the coding changes that have been submitted and suggested by women actually had a higher approval.
But then, and higher approval of those suggested changes submitted by men. But that actually worked only if the gender was unidentifiable. So that was a big, I think, a letdown. But thirdly, I think, the harder problem is the problem that we do not have any policies in place at the moment. And this is the problem of the opaque algorithms in machine learning, the algorithm decision-making and that will certainly is affecting gender equality.
So what I think we need is to work all together of the neutral bias and algorithmic because we know how they're going to affect times on multiple levels. And maybe to give some examples, we know there is women ‑‑ of women and men, teenagers in California and 70% of them who have been surveyed and they did not want to say what gender they are. So they've decided to keep that private.
And just a certain kind of little motion of how the database will be filled with preferences and their accuracies. And there is no way of checking. And I would have to describe the issue as bias issue ‑‑ and it's not just the impartial assessment of facts that we miss also based on preconceived judges, notions and prejudices. In closing, you can imagine big systems and farfetched future where you can have a machine learning database of last elections for the last 50 years and may want to prefer that only men over 50 years get elected and so on.
So the consequences of algorithm decision-making are huge. And I would say there are a lot of ‑‑ work together and engage in the multistakeholder process and multidisciplinary way to have policies in place that will address those. I'm sure I'm running out of time. But I just wanted to make sure that different topics get treated in this ‑‑ not only by a single stakeholder or only by men in 20s or 60s or whatever the bias may be. Those processes, were computerized processes in real life as the rules that reflected.
>> EMILAR GANDHI: Thank you very much, Desiree. We are getting messages we need to hurry. But key points ‑‑ these are not new problems, we need a feminist approach by design and translate some of the lessons that we learned offline to our online campaigns and initiatives. We'll open the floor for questions. Be brief in your intervention so that we can ‑‑
>> I would like to ask a question I heard a lot during the event, but not with this approach. And I believe it will give us some perspective. There are many challenges with regard to gender equality on the internet which includes hate speech, revenge, difficulty assessing socially economically, et cetera. And during the event, I realize the many projects and programs to overcome this inequality. In various parts of the world. Taking into consideration this project, and the issues raised here, how do you think gender situation will be on the internet in the next ten years?
>> EMILAR GANDHI: Thank you. We'll get another question.
>> My question is related to the overall subject of the panel, which was about approach to internet public policy issues. So the question is addressed to all of the panelists. So one thing is when we're talking about framing our integrated kind of approach to the rights and bringing it into internet public policy issues.
How do we deal with the fact that there's no one forum that public policy is discussed today. There are many other forums. What should be the strategies that we adopt in these fragmented forums? And the second part of the question is that increasingly of the language, the language we use is women's rights, other rights and empowerment has been increasingly co‑oped. Just a week ago, we knew there was a purpose on women's economic empowerment and then from the global site about this kind of ‑‑
So in this kind of situation, we are not sure, like, when everyone's speaking the same language, but really different things. What are the strategies we should adopt? And how do we move forward? Thank you.
>> EMILAR GANDHI: Thank you very much. Any other questions, I want to remind you to be brief. Our translators, interpreters need to leave in the next few minutes. So if we can be brief in our interventions. Panelists, any responses to the questions? The first one was on gender in the next ten years. How do you see the conversations evolving? And the other questions.
>> I wish I had the ability to tell the answer to that question. All of the project you have the opportunity of seeing these days are very valuable. And I think we should all collectively be very proud of ourself of being ‑‑ working in relevant initiative, not only for us, but for many women that are not able to adhere. Those are the most important. In some way, the ones on the front will have the privilege to have more tools and to speak and are those that are back home to have the consequences with the decision-making at a policy level.
I think those are very relevant, but also, I think that we will be effective in change the game in the next ten years if we are able to make this kind of project initiatives and the thinking behind of them, part of the mainstream, also.
Because many times, we have seen that there are a lot of congratulation about setting up prize and giving money for initiatives. But we think that's very valuable but not enough. It's only, like, putting the gender of inclusion. And what we need it to put it also in the mainstream.
We need that ‑‑ the big companies, how the big number of users around the world engage, also, these principles. I think if we are able to make this happen in the next ten years, probably this will be a very different conversation.
I have a big hope that can happen. But I think that's not possible if we don't have, like, a multiholder, multistakeholder approach. And we need the support of the technicals, especially, and the women of the private sector and the support of the government recognizing this is just an evolution of the recognition of the human rights in the physical space, but now in the digital space.
>> EMILAR GANDHI: Thank you, Maria, and I will suggest that we have the next panel in some of the questions that the floor has asked can be moved to that session if possible so that we can have some time for the last session. Thank you so much to the panelists. Yes. Thank you. Can we give them ‑‑
[ Applause ]
>> BISHAKHA DATTA: We're moving to the last segment, and can we invite our speakers to come up on the stage? I would ask them to come up on stage.
>> BISHAKHA DATTA: Okay. We move to the final segment of the session on gender in the future. (Audio stopped) speakers, I'd like to, actually, start with the direct of the network operators association. Thank you, Lise, I know you have to leave in ten minutes to catch your flight, but thank you for being with us. And the question, actually, I wanted to ask everybody on the panel ‑‑ excuse me, is to think about gender and internet governance from your context as well as in the context of the IGF to what extent are gender issues being discussed and addressed here? What is still left? And does gender influence the framing and prioritization of other internet governance topics or does it sit in a silo by itself?
>> Well, thank you for very much for inviting me and thank you for actually initiating this discussion. I come from Denmark where gender is supposed to be very equal. And it's not. So I think it's a very, very important discussion, still. Regarding governance and why is this important? Well, the obvious answer is, actually, we need diversity in everything. So if you look at governance, we would like to have the same amount of women there as there are in the world.
And ‑‑ that women are 50% less likely to use the internet than men. This is from the worldwide web foundation. If we look at Europe as a region, which is also supposed to be very much in front on gender equality, and we have 7 million ICT industry, and we only have 30% of women there, I think we lose out of a lot of good women and good qualities if we don't include women. But if I look at Europe or Brussels, we see some signs of things are getting better.
I myself, heading leaving trade association which represents the biggest Telcos in Europe. We actually have three out of five leading trade associations are led by women. This is a movement that has been going on the last three years. So we actually have heading to Brussels. We have Cecilia who is heading to Europe. And I'm heading to ‑‑ I actually think we see some movement. And it will go to the commission, our new commissioner, Commissioner Gabrielle. Of course, she's a woman, too.
And so, we see some good moments in Brussels. And I think this is important. Important for all internet governance and governance in general because we need some role models here. And the new, the two leading rapporteurs on a regulation in Brussels are also women.
And I see these are important for all of the young women. When I talk to a lot of young women they need role models. And if we can lead by example and show if you want, we can get more to get out there. And of course, we need all of the help from the politicians in actually creating the roles and the awareness that's needed.
I'm not saying it's just a walk in the park because you have role models, but I think that's a good start.
>> BISHAKHA DATTA: Thank you so much, Lise, our next speaker is part of the IRTF human rights protocol research group. Also a Veteran at internet governance. Having been there right in the early days of the IGF, has played a significant role in putting gender on the agenda. So Avri, I'd like you to talk about if you could give us very quickly, your sense of what has shifted and what's still left to be done.
>> Thank you. And first from the first panel, I feel like I should apologize for having worn a pink shirt. I didn't do it on purpose. It just happened to be the shirt that was next in line. But anyway. So I was thinking about it. And I was thinking about the first time that within the IETF ‑‑ I was chair of the nomcom. And one of the things whispered to me by many is you've got to make sure you get at least one woman on the leadership panel.
We don't have any, we need one. And, indeed, we were able to ‑‑ but it was difficult and it almost took trickery to pull it off. Now, the IRTF, the internet research task force is led by a woman. The IUTF is chaired by a woman. In that, there are many of the area directors that are women. There are many working group chairs. So within the engineering part of governance standards making, whatever term you want to use, there has been an incredible difference.
When I first got involved in that world, the only area that women could leave was a group called the users group. And that's, you know, sort of like staying home. So that is huge. Now, in terms of the IGF, you know, we have a woman leading here. I think the women within that group, basically, were able to get a lot done, not by force of the argument so much as they did the work.
They wrote the first drafts and such. So I think there's a difference here, too, that now the ‑‑ that the multistakeholder advisory group, which I'm on for one more day is well balanced. It has women in its leadership. Within the IGF, certainly, we've seen a change there's more to be done. These are rarefied areas.
The second you step out of them, step into an engineering environment or policy environment that isn't one of these places where we're trying very hard. You find that it falls away. And that the world is still somewhat similar to the world of 2000 and perhaps before.
There are good things that are happening. And within our little piece of it, I think that things have improved much. There's reason for a bit of cheer if not complete optimism and belief that the world has changed because we know that the engineering world is still largely male dominated and all the statistics do hold.
>> BISHAKHA DATTA: Thank you very much, Avri, our next speaker, I'm going to ask Chet Garcia, the executive director of association of progress of communications which we know as APC to talk about what you think still needs to be done if we want to really take the agenda to the next level.
>> I think, number one, is to look at what we've been doing. If I look at the past, like the international society, we had to fight to get the paragraph on gender. And it was a big fight. And it really built up to where we are now. There are strategies that we've used, I think, that have been very useful. So, for example, the gender report cards.
We started APC started, you know, experimenting around gender report cards, which has been using the other fields before, right? In 2011. I was just looking at the gender report card for 2016. And there's still a difference. There's still a gap there. And I think what might be useful is to look at 2011, seeing what kind of movements there have been.
If I just show ‑‑ if I just share with you what was in 2017 is that 37% of the panelists were women, which means, you know, it's still quite a difference there. And I won't get into the numbers, but we can look at it and see where it's shifted. But over time.
There's also in the gender report card, not only participation, not only who are in the panels, but also, what's being said. What kinds of issues. And I think they are the numbers, which means, you ‑‑ issues around gender are still very significantly ‑‑ or focus on gender or women's rights, for example. There's been an improvement in the past few years. I'm very active in the Asia‑Pacific region and adopted the report cards. I think it did build consciousness. I think maybe the last bit I wanted to add is one thing that's very important is to bring women here. In IGF. The policy of the fellowship program is bringing 50% women. And I think that's important ‑‑ and I do think strategies that bring women's voices is important in bringing more diversity, also in the discussion issues brought into the discussion.
>> BISHAKHA DATTA: Thank you very much. Next speaker is Lissette the director of the international relations and founder of the ministry of communications of Cuba. If you could talk a little bit about of the efforts made in Cuba to deal with the issue of sort of gender policy internet, et cetera.
>> LISSETTE PEREZ: Thank you very much. First and foremost, I'd like to thank you for the invitation to take part in the session. I'd like to highlight the importance of addressing these issues as part of the IGF in Geneva. First of all, it's important to highlight that Cuba was the first country in the world in signing the United Nations convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women.
And the second in the world to ratify it. In addition to that, it assumes the commitments agreed at the level of heads of state at the fourth world conference of women held in Beijing in 1995 whereby the declaration and Beijing platform were agreed upon.
Which led to the current United Nations party called UN women. Similarly, Cuba firmly supports the agreements which stand from the 20 O30 agenda, and we are very pleased with achieving the gender equality and the empowerment of women as well as girls as well as the cost‑cutting issue of gender in the 2030 agenda.
Therefore, the inclusion of Cuba women in the development process as beneficiaries and main players can be described as one of the most successful social phenomena that have taken place in Cuba. I would simply mention that Cuba women account for over 40% in the Cuban parliament. They are placed third in the international ranking according to the IPU and other United Nations bodies for gender equality and the empowerment of women.
When it comes to telecommunications, I should point out that of the 21 universities with a higher level of education, ten of them, ten women are in leading positions. When it comes to technical ICT, we have plans that make it possible for 6,400 women to graduate from Information Science University since it was set up. This shows that in Cuba, there's no gender divide in access to technological education.
Therefore, internet governance understood as a set of principle standards, rules, procedures, decision-making and activities that are implemented and applied in a coordinated fashion by government's private sector, civil society and others defines the priorities of the internet. This can play an important role in fostering sustainable human development.
It can also help to build up a society with a better knowledge, eradicate inequalities as well as the publication of content against women and thereby reduce the gender gap.
Cuba is focused on assuming the commitments made at the world summit of information society. And this leads to an enabling environment in which a dynamic economic society cannot take place without including women without active participation of women in discussions around the internet.
Thank you very much.
>> BISHAKHA DATTA: Thank you very much. And our final speaker for today is Tara Denham. And if you could talk about the efforts you've made to deal with the issue of gender and internet governance.
>> TARA DENHAM: Just to be clear, I'm from the global affairs Canada, which is a foreign service in the government of Canada. I'm going to bring a perspective from a policymaker within government. And to answer the questions. I understand everybody's ready to go hopefully I have a few things to share with you.
I didn't do it myself, but my job is now to implement it. But what that gives us, that includes not only a feminist international assistance policy, which is the money that goes out the door, the women peace and security agenda, about involving women in all aspects of peace and security. And we also are taking the presidency of the G7 starting in January and our prime minister announced a specific focus on gender equality in women's empowerment.
So for us, that gender, that message coming from the government is not only the gender's important, but gender remains a priority. And that's a message that we have to, I feel that we have to push that message forward. And as a policymaker representing government, it's a message we have to keep pushing forward. It is not addressed. And there's many things that we still need to do.
What it gives me as a policymaker is I've been clearly articulated that we need to put gender first. And I mean the government's articulated gender plus. It's about inclusion and diversity of people beyond. So that means, gender plus and a human rights based approach is up front in the policy ‑‑ and that creates an environment we can continue to take the steps necessary that we see to push this agenda further. These are some of the areas we're working on and I want to share some of the challenges. We've concluded that we've moved away from folks addressing violent extremism. And identified the violence against women online is a huge issue and we need to push this in the international agenda.
So we've done a lot of research this year and we continue to engage with many around us. This is a global issue. We focused our year. International frameworks and to get that acknowledged. And one of the challenges is that as a policymaker that what we're told is that not a global issue.
Do I request anyone able to provide data to support that, we would welcome it. The other area we're looking at is ‑‑ and it was referenced in previous panels in where we're going from here. There's been a lot of panels on artificial intelligence, machine learning, data, algorithms. We've also identified this as a priority for us. And that we're going to take a human rights perspective. So we're trying to answer the question what is the role of governments in the application, rollout, development of artificial intelligence to ensure they are human rights respecting and promoting.
Governments have the obligation to protect those rights and we need to answer the question as to what that would look like moving forward. Thank you.
>> BISHAKHA DATTA: Before we move forward, just applause for this panel, please.
[ Applause ]
Okay, we have a hand up for the question. The issue is we started ten minutes late, and we are pretty much at 6:00. So what I would like to suggest at this point is we don't take any questions. The translators need to leave at 6:00. Do you think we can take questions? Okay. Go ahead, please. Yeah.
>> Hi, my name is Shea, founder of an organization that trains and campaigns online abuse, and I was at the national democratic institute yesterday. Thank you so much for your kind of actions around what we can do, which leads me to my question.
It's great we had this ‑‑ this is the first session for gender. Disappointing it's the last session of the day. How can we make sure ‑‑ sit and talk and take photos, it's about actions, ongoing conversation where we're sharing best practice, avoiding duplication. And the second one is, how can we get more female engineers into the room? I definitely had in a panel before we need to look at STEAM, fantastic. But they are female engineers. How can we make sure there's affirmative action to get them in the room? And making sure they are the gender plus, which I love, by the way, props to you for gender plus. That you think.
>> Okay. We have time for one more question. The last question of the day or the last comment of the day for anybody from the floor would like to make one. Yes, please.
>> I would like to give the organizers and the wonderful people in the room and all the people they represent a great big thank you for getting us to the first gender main session. The last comments are all absolutely correct. But we start with one small step. So thank you very much for getting us to this point, our chair and our panelists and our contributors over the last ten years of IGF. Thank you very much. I'm proud to be here. Thank you.
[ Applause ]
>> One of the things I'm very action‑oriented. Trying to find solutions. And usually, people come up to me as a government rep. We need to legislate. We had a session in the playbook and the idea here, a playbook to work towards gender equity. And so what we're trying to do there is bring ‑‑ give the opportunity for people to give the ideas of what are the actions already taking place so we can stop repeating over and over and over and put it online somewhere that people can continue to add to it and then, the government entity, private sector are those can decide which of those actions they want to integrate to the work plans next year and moving forward. That was one step because I'm always trying to say people, you have to do something. Tell me what you want to see done. And I can see which part of that I can do. So always trying to do that. The other thing is I always ask people to and these are great sessions that bring different voices together. That surprises people and I find there's a lot of people that have assumptions about what government reps are like. I encourage us all to break down these assumptions, I do have people that get cautious about engaging with me and there's only so much I can do to push forward. And we need other people's ideas to address these ridiculously complex issues. It's not going to be done by government alone. But that involves us to have honest conversation with each other.
>> EMILAR GANDHI: I want to say thank you all to everyone in this room for staying on until now. There's something under your seat for staying on. I want to say thank you to APC and other organizations working in this area for several years and also the organizers for this.
And you just finalized our conversation. This is not the end of the conversation. But we hope to continue in this conversations, government, civil society, activists, academia and also companies. And also to companies. So thank you so much. Yes?
>> BISHAKHA DATTA: Can I add my thanks, as well. For all of our wonderful panelists. Thank you for making the time. Thank you for giving us ways forward and thank you for giving us hope. That we can make this happen. And two people have worked really hard behind the scenes on this. We sincerely thank you. I think you should stand up.
Let's hope we don't have to have another gender main session to make things go forward. To put at the center of internet governance. Thank you.