Online Exchange

Particpants: Participants Cyber GBV 2017

Agenda: Agenda Online Exchange Cyber VAWG

Flyer: Flyer GIZ Online Exchange 2017

On 13 December 2017, GIZ Gender Officer Angela Langenkamp together with GIZ Sector Programmes “Promoting Gender Equality and Women’s Rights” as well as “Digital Development” conducted an Online Exchange on Cyber Violence against Women and Girls via Skype for Business.

Evidence presented by the UN Broadband Commission shows that worldwide close to three quarters of women online have been exposed to Cyber Violence. Cyber Violence against Women and Girls (Cyber VAWG) takes different forms, including cyber stalking, cyber harassment, public shaming, hate speech and virtual human trafficking. In recent years, high profile incidences have gained international attention in the media. Current research reveals the devastating psychological impact Cyber Violence can have on victims, as well as the pervasiveness of the problem (e.g. Henry, N./Powell, A. (2015). Beyond the ‘sext’: Technology-facilitated sexual violence and harassment against adult women.  Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 48(1), 105. and EIGE (2017): Cyber violence against women and girls, 2). Moreover, research found that Cyber VAWG has negative effects on female economic, social and political participation online, which makes it an important topic to look into when promoting women’s access to digital technologies.

In occasion of the event, researchers and practitioners from Germany, Canada, Sri Lanka and Mexico were invited to discuss its many aspects and consequences based on experience and research findings. The event raised awareness on the following questions: What impact has Cyber VAWG on their (digital) inclusion  and how does it affect sustainable development of a society? How can women and girls (re-)claim the online sphere and the opportunities that it offers? The goal of this open debate was to create a better understanding of the phenomena, its relevance for development cooperation and of possible ways forward. As a result, the experts invited reported on their expertise and initiatives during our event, which was moderated by Anne von Au from the GIZ Sector Programme “Promoting gender equality and women’s rights”

In her Welcome Note, GIZ Gender Officer Angela Langenkamp addressed the influence of Cyber VAWG on the already existing gender gap. She stressed the fact that worldwide 250 million fewer women than men use the Internet and only 1 out of 7 women in the developing world has access to the Internet. From a development and human rights perspective, this inequality needed to be addressed urgently in order to mitigate the risk of women and girls being left behind.

First speaker and expert, Johanna Hartung, from the GIZ Sector Project on Digital Development, highlighted some activities in order to empower girls and women within German development cooperation and stressed the opportunities that ICT can offer for women and girls. She introduced the G20 Germany led initiative #eSkillsforGirls and the engagement of Germany within the Multistakeholder initiative EQUALS to scale up efforts to bridge the gender digital divide.

Johanna’s presentation: 2017 EN Presentation Digital Exchange CVWG

Her presentation was followed by an input by Shannon Pritchard, a community development specialist and co-author of a global study commissioned by the UN Broadband Commission Working Group on Gender to assess the status of Cyber Violence Against Women. She explained existing risks for women and girls of being harassed online and stressed the urgency of protecting women and girls from violence on the Internet. According to her, finding justice on the Web is even more difficult than in the real world. In her final remarks, she indicated that Cyber VAWG is a systemic concern that has to be addressed responsibly by all stakeholders of society, including the private sector.

Shannon’s presentation: Pritchard 2017 EN Presentation Digital Exchange CVWG

Awarded Sri Lankan filmmaker and founder of the Internet Platform “Respect Girls on the Internet” Poornima Meegammana made the participants familiar with the issue of access to ICT in Sri Lanka, where Internet is seen as a privilege. Consequently, girls tend to not talk about harassment online because they are afraid to lose the privilege of internet access. Many of the girls also think that their surroundings do not understand the problem, which leads to a widespread underreporting of it.

Poornima’s presentation: Meegammana 2017 EN Presentation Digital Exchange CVWG

Mexican feminist activist and founder of “Luchadoras”, Lulú Barrera, reported on the situation of online VAWG in Mexico and on the tools and methods that “Luchadoras” was using. The tools include grassroots documentation and creating content through encouraging storytelling to reflect women’s agency and power. All the tools aim to counter online VAWG and to secure discrimination- and violence-free cyber spaces. Lulu stressed that VAWG online and offline feed into each other and derive from the same gender-discriminatory structures in society.

Lulú’s presentation: Luchadoras 2017 EN Presentation Digital Exchange CVWG

All experts concluded that in order to prevent and combat Cyber Violence against Women and Girls and protect their rights and safety online as well as offline, all actors of society needed to take responsibility in their respective fields of action and join forces, including, governments, companies, NGOs, the media as well as academia.

Luchadoras (Mexican online platform focusing on feminism on the Internet and the protection of women’s rights online)

Respect Girls on the Internet (Sri Lankan online platform advocating girl’s rights in ICT)

UN Broadband Commission for Digital Development Commission by ITU and Unesco working on Cyber Violence against Women and Girls

Take back the tech (Knowledge platform on the topic of Cyber Violence against Women and Girls)

Ciber Seguras Platform on Cyber Security (in Spanish)

First European wide report on Violence against Women by European Fundamental Rights Agency, which reported also on Cyber Violence (2014)

UN Women and Networked Intelligence report on Cyber Violence against Women and Girls“ a world-wide wake up call (2015)

Study by EIGE on „Cyber violence against women and girls“

Report by International Center for Research on Women on “Cyber Violence against Women and Girls”

Report by IT for Change on A feminist perspective on Gender, Media and Communication Rights in Digital Times

Study by the International Center for Research on Women on “Development of Standard Measures to Support Gender-Based Cyber Violence Prevention”

 App to prevent violence against women in Ecuador by GIZ

Apps aiming at helping college women in the US to feel safer

National Network to end domestic violence (USA)

Women’s Media Centre informs on the different types of violence online

#GenderTech: Hacking GBV in Beirut (Initiative by GenderTech aimed at combating violence online in the MENA region)

Sexual Violence Research Initiative

Tactical Technology Collective working on cyber security for activists and offers workshops on ICT-related issues, also in the Global South

Equals (Annual EQUALS in Tech Awards for women in ICT)

#eSkillsforGirls (The G20 #eSkills4Girls initiative aims at tackling the existing gender digital divide in particular in low income and developing countries)

Mozilla Club Combatting Cyber Violence for Women and Girls: Reading the Web

Contact: Pauline Ahlhaus