In May, I was privileged to sit on a panel at Rightscon Toronto, organized by KICTANet to discuss online gender based violence. The sessions in this conference were so many and one was spoilt for choice. One of the sessions that really got my attention was the session on “feminist internet”. This means Creating an Internet where women felt safe online and are able to air their views and opinions without the fear of being victimized and attacked online. The mission for a feminist internet is to advance internet equalities for women and other marginalized groups through creative, critical practice. Internet equalities refers to equal rights to freedom of expression, privacy, data protection and internet access regardless of race, class, gender, gender identity, age, belief or ability. And then begs the question: why is there a need for a feminist internet?
The internet holds a huge potential for liberation and political transformation. However, many of society’s inequalities are encoded in its structures, processes and communities. Whether it is digital platforms allowing online abuse against women, lack of workforce diversity in the tech sector, biased data collection reinforcing privileges or sexist naming of subservient chatbots, there are many issues to address. Feminist Internet is here to intervene and ensure an equal and just internet for all.
As Rightscon came to an end, my journey with the feminist internet had just began, and I must add an exciting journey indeed. Immediately I got back, I conducted a digital security training, on behalf of defend defenders Uganda. In this training the topic of a feminist internet was explored. Participants embraced it better than I expected, and most of them went back to their home countries in the quest to find out more about it. After the training. We discussed further with the Association of Progressive Communicators (APC) on the topic of the feminist internet and the feminists tech exchange (FTX) module APC was creating for a digital security training. I was eager to start using the FXT module because most of the participants in my trainings are women and the FXT module are created purposely for them. All this in the quest to create a holistic idea aimed at making women feel safe online.
In July APC invited me to Nepal for a feminists digital security trainings. The meeting brought together feminists from all corners of the world, from Brazil to Kenya to Indonesia, just to mention a few. The meet up was informative and I learnt new ideas on digital security training.
We were able to learn more about the FTX safety reboot which is a feminist contribution to the global response to digital security capacity building. This is an addition to the existing training guides but rooted in a feminist approach to technology. The curriculum aims to enable trainers to build awareness within communities of how to respond to online gender-based violence and build confidence and skills to be safe and effective in online spaces. It responds to the obstacles and challenges faced by activists where misogyny, censorship and surveillance are restricting women’s freedom of expression and ability to share information, create alternative economies, build communities of solidarity and express desires.