Rolling back patriarchy through tech

An estimated one-third of all women worldwide experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime – mostly by an intimate partner. According to a 2015 report, the proliferation of Information and Communication Technology tools such as mobile phones and social media platforms are fueling digitally enabled violence against women. In particular, the ICT tools which are easily accessible facilitate abuse by enabling anonymity of the perpetrators who could be located anywhere and without physical contact with the victim.

The internet is an incredible tool and has empowered women to speak up, react and organize to face patriarchy and oppression. But the internet is not a neutral place – sexist, racist, homophobic and other violent types of behavior and content are disproportionately affecting women. Never has this been more relevant than now for marginalized communities, which have been habitually erased from mainstream history and face violating legislative efforts to limit their visibility and safety. Against this onslaught, the internet might be able to offer a counter-narrative, led by grassroots civil societies and tech organizations

Successful programs have seen the empowerment of women and girls through the provision of meaningful access to the internet and digital technologies to provide them with opportunities to start businesses, and to access education, health, social and financial services. It could also be a powerful tool to enable women and girls to participate in governance, to associate, assemble and express themselves on digital rights issues that are dear to them and to develop relevant content for their empowerment. In addition, this could be an opportunity to increase women’s representation in leadership and decision-making roles within the ICT sector.

While advancements have been promising, women, on a global average, have less understanding of technology, fewer digital skills, less presence on online platforms and are less likely to own mobile or technological devices. Hurdles to women’s and girls’ digital literacy include access and affordability challenges, lack of educa

tion, and socio-cultural norms. Women on average are 26 percent less likely than men to have a smart phone: In Africa, the proportion stands at 34 percent

Beyond Access project seeks to develop safe spaces for minority women to discuss circumstances that enable gender inequalities to persist in online usage and spaces. We do this by tackling themes of patriarchy, misogyny, cyber security laws, and enactment in relation to minority women. Our proposed idea is to create a community-based, collaborative internet infrastructure, in which we can respect each other and find better ways to implement it.

Beyond Access project will create a digital security curriculum that will be a community-built resource for our growing community of women and human rights activists with a holistic and gender perspective, aimed at offering trainers with tools to provide in-person learning experiences to women and human rights defenders working in high-risk environments