IGF 2017 - Day 3 - Room XXV - BPF Best Practice Forum on Gender and Access


The following are the outputs of the real-time captioning taken during the Twelfth Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Geneva, Switzerland, from 17 to 21 December 2017. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the event, but should not be treated as an authoritative record. 




>> Jac Kee: Hello, good morning, hi. We're going to aim to start in about five minutes, I think, so thank you very much for your patience. There was clearly a celebration happening here earlier. We ordered the star balloons especially for you.

      Okay, I think we can start, no? Good morning, everyone. And welcome to the session on the Best Practice Forum on Gender & Access. This is the second year for the best practices forum focusing on access. And this session is actually going to be a working session. So, don't get attached to your seats or to your laptop. We're going to make you move around a little bit. And the reason for this is it actually will be here in a little while. Why am I being mysterious? Because it's fun and it's 10:00 in the morning.

      So hello, my name is Jac, I'm with the association for progressive communications, we're an organization that works in ICT for social justice. I head the women's rights program. I'm also an MAG member and facilitator of this best practice forum and have the support of many wonderful people who have been committing to this work for the past three years. Including Henri, and including Renata not here and Cheryl miller and all of the different focal points some of which I'm versed and some of which I am not and Mili has joined us this year.

      So, this is kind of a community -- it's kind of a committed enriched community that's come together and continued to do the work for a while. Thank you and welcome and very glad to have you with us today.

      So, for the first part of the session, we will share a little bit with you about this year's BFP work, what we are focusing on? And then we will also get some insights from practitioners who have been doing some of this work with different communities who are sitting here with me, because I guess the IGF is really the best place to get a gathering of really rich insights and experiences from people doing different work in this area. So, this is what we're hoping and aiming to do for today. For the next hour and a half.

      So first of all, let's go through a little bit around -- oh, good. So, a little bit around some history and background to the IGF. So, this year we are focusing on access but focusing on specific -- challenges and needs faced by specific communities of women in relation to meaningful access to the internet, meaningful access meaning really access that enables the realization of the human rights that then also is not just about access to infrastructure or connectivity, but access for what, and to what purposes and end? And the idea is that it's access that directly responds to the needs and interests and therefore it's important for us to unpack what some of this means.

      Just to give you a little bit of background, which we'll share a little bit. This is our third year. The first year in 2015, we focused on on-line abuse and gender-based violence. And this has produced a pretty lengthy report. And I think to date it's still one of the most comprehensive documents around looking at on-line gender-based violence and abuse.

      And in 2016, just last year, we focused on access, this produced a report as well as we introduced an info graphic for the previous year. Both of the documents can be found on the IGF website. And they're quite worth looking through, which is a rich amount of data in relation to this, insights and data. And it's an ongoing work around IGF in relation to BPF in relation to -- oh, too many in relation to -- okay, so this year, it's ongoing work in relation to this year's BPF, focus on specific communities of women. And the reason for this is we started the work quite late. We started I think sometime in June. This year's BPF really started quite late. And as you know, the work schedule of the world starts to get really crazy in the second half and the last quarter.

      But nonetheless, we managed to develop a kind of a methodology of work that really matured from the previous two years. So, year one, we got together, we had regular meetings, we developed a survey, we outreached to different sessions and platforms and spaces. Year two, we continued to do some of this and as well as have a survey. And year three, we thought if we have less time and we also wanted to go more granular, we wanted to go deeper into -- into this particular issue. So different focal points and focused on particular community of women. And before that, we developed, again, the kind of survey or more like -- yeah, a survey as well as a set of questions to help us to guide us through this information gathering and perspective gathering process as well.

      So, let me just make sure that I'm thanking all of the different focal points. So, we have Smita, not here with us. She's the focal point person for LGBQ women. And we have Henri who looked at refugee women together with each focal point worked with a group of people, which was really great. And some of them outreached by distributing the survey to different groups and some used the survey and went to the different groups to do the interviews of the people they're working with.

      And Serene working with indigenous women, Bruna, who was working with young women. And then we had two other groups of women, which was women with disabilities as well as women living in rural areas. But this sort of didn't really get as much responses, unfortunately. But these are the ones where you have, I guess, both a huge amount of need, as well as a huge amount of research that's being done. So, we hope we can continue this work up until maybe June of 2018 and then take it from there. So that's where we are.

      So why did we choose to focus on specific groups of women, specific communities of women? Firstly, it's because we understand that the one of gender and access is one that a lot of attention and resources has been put into and this is fantastic. Part of this is driven by SGD gold 5 because it's the understanding that the access and control over the internet can enable -- can support efforts to its gender equality as well as enable empowerment to all women. So, it's pause in equality and pause on all women. Equality, what does that mean? No, not equality just in terms of number but in terms of substantive equality and in order to get there, we feel like the framework of human rights is the best framework to kind of like guide this. What does meaningful access and equality mean in terms of the realization of the full range of rights? And we also understand that rights is also the realization of rights and the ability to be able to see this fulfilled in your everyday life also is dependent on the multiple forms of intersecting realities and often the discrimination that we face. So, let's sort of drill down a little bit on that as well and focus on all women and all women, even if we look in this room, there's no such thing as like one category of a group of women who shares everything.

      So, let's break this down a little bit more, let's understand what all women means. And we start by breaking this down just into the five sort of -- initially sort of five groups of women to begin with. And this came out also a little bit from the work from last year, last year's BPF to see, okay, these are information that we would like to, yeah, this is information that will benefit from deeper research, deeper analysis, let's try and outreach a little bit more as well. Because much of the research happens also a little bit at a macrolevel, no? Because this is important. Data and quantity in the statistics is really important. How do we complement this and deepen the understanding by going into a specific community?

      So that's kind of -- that's the primary reason we chose to focus on the five groups of women. I've spoken already about the methodology and approach and I won't go too much deeper into it. And here I will share with you a little bit about the survey summary. To be honest, this is not representative in no way at all. Right? We received 29 survey responses, which is really great, given the time frame that we had. There was about 168 unfinished responses, which breaks my heart. But that also happens with surveys. But on top of this, it's also interviews that's been carried out not included in the survey responses where focal points took some of the surveys and went to different communities and asked questions of people who worked in specific communities and asked questions.

      We did have quite a nice distribution around through different regions but, of course, regions are very big and this is also just a touch of what it could include. Great to see Africa had responses from the region. So that's what we're happy with.

      I'm not going to spend a lot of time talking through the findings because as I said it's in no way representative, but it's useful for us to get a little bit of a sense of a context in order to be able to highlight the specific needs and therefore the specific challenges and also maybe to an extent face the specific value of meaningful access. Firstly, on refugee women. Facilities so, some of the needs that were included as you can see above is about connecting with relatives and families and accessing important information and challenges includes lack of public access facilities, cultural norms and discrimination playing a large role. So, in a way it's kind of like the importance of having access to the internet is a bit like being able to connect to the past, which is being able to connect to families in the country of origin that they left behind. And it's also about connecting to the future, it's about future options, what's there available for me to be able to increase my education and my skills and the capacities to be able to sort of look ahead.

      And there's a spatial expansion possibility with excess to the internet. With very limited mobility and restrictions, then the internet sort of gives you the access to a different kind of a space that opens it up. So, this is a quote from one of the respondents. Access to information, the sharing of knowledge, it's -- I can't really pronounce this words? What is this? Sine qua non? What language is it? Latin. I speak so good Latin, it's empowerment and empowerment of one's own life while keeping in mind a critical sense of falling into miracle solutions, with believe the internet and social networks represent in this respect an opportunity to exploit.

      We also have with us Katie Drew who works at UNHCR who can give us deeper insight on this as well as Josephine who is working in helping to get the survey out -- I mean, yeah. Who actually went and did interviews for women through the survey who will speak to this a little bit more. Then the next group we have are indigenous women. Indigenous women sometimes share a lot of the same context needs as rural women because it's about being in sort of hard-to-reach locations, so therefore, there are issues of -- on top of that, indigenous women also face issues of discrimination and exclusion. Its's also -- so therefore access to the internet is also very much about engaging with public participation. It's about advancements of their rights, accessing government services on top of -- on top of having to deal with the exclusion issues. And cultural and heritage is also an important thing as well as the kind of the building of skills and capacity.

      So, you can see there are some of the needs includes access to information, education, justice, and production of their own content and engagement with citizen journalism. And I think this also goes side-by-side with a lot of civil society work in engaging in communities in advancement of human rights and so you can see a parallel happening there.

      And this is a quote by one of the respondents who works with indigenous as well as women in rural places where I'm from in east Malaysia. And this is really important. Like east-west Malaysian politics -- like don't play around. And she works with people who are at high risk of HIV infection and HIV positive. And she says access to the internet is important for women to gain access to the outside world because the windows of the outside world is often just confined through what is given by the government through services, which means there's quite a lot of propaganda coming through that so the ability to be able to access alternative information is quite important.

      And then the -- then we looked at young women. And for young women, we found that the ability to express themselves is very important. Young women's context is often constrained through a lot of cultural norms about what you can or cannot say about stuff that you're able to appropriately demonstrate, I suppose. And a lot of it is actually also around sexuality and shame is a big factor. So, it's around mobility as well. So, access to the internet becomes really important for this expression and articulation of what it means to be a young woman. And the circumvention of shame and looking for particular kinds of information, shame or judgment, no?

      One of the biggest challenges we've seen faced by young women in terms of a barrier of access to the internet is safety concerns, including on-line gender-based violence and this is something we've consistently found since the first year of the BF in 2015. So, it's quite an issue. For example, you can see from this quote, the issue of, yeah, about being able to find spaces to express yourselves on-line then the kind of backlash to also suppress this expression is equally present and relevant.

      And then we have women with disabilities. And we -- I don't even feel comfortable putting this up there. We only got one response. But since then, I've had really amazing conversations with different people who are working on disability issues which we hope to engage and be much more part of this process. And can I just tell you a little story. It's fascinating.

      So, I happen to -- by happen chance, I met this woman who was working on disability issues for more than ten year last week. Oh, my God, I wish I met you earlier and you were coming to IGF so you could tell us more about this issue. She said one of the things she pointed out she said what is the intersection of technology and the work that you do, with the communities like you do.

      She said it's massive. The role of technology in terms of advancing or making much more -- I don't know how to say, the impact of lives of people with disabilities has been really huge. And she walked through some of it with me. So, one is around mobility and isolation, no. This goes from a whole range of physical disabilities to learning disabilities. And sometimes it's not that you can't go out, but your guardian or your career is not able to take you out. So, mobility is a big thing.

      And she was talking about the deaf community. And how for the deaf community, they are signing. And for them, they don't see themselves sometimes as a group of people who are -- they don't see themselves as a community of people living with disabilities, they see themselves as a linguistic community. But then what happens with signing is you often don't learn the national language because you're signing, you have your own language. But a younger generation of people who are hearing impaired are using what's app to communicate. Which means they can ear learning a national language which then narrows the divide between the speaking community and the deaf community. But it is widening the divide within the deaf community between those who are signing and those who don't speak the national language and the younger community using text and maybe don't sign as much.

      So, there's this interesting movement that's happening within this work that I feel that maybe we don't pay as much attention to in issues of access. We have a lot more understanding around people who are visually impaired but less so of the different kinds of disabilities that might be worth delving into.

      Okay, so, LGBTQI women, it's off of most countries criminalized if not it's against -- it's either criminalized or against the hetero norms. So, the internet backs a personal space for relating, for community building, to find other people who share experiences of exclusion, from simple things as coming out to the families to connecting to others to dating. And also to access information that are simply and explicitly banned, censored, or just not available because diverse sexuality and information about health that is not hetero normatives. And in the survey finding as well, the access to the internet is important for transpeople to do simple things like on-line banking because your identity -- your illegal identification and how you look like and circumventing all of that issue.

      And then women in rural areas, we share a little bit with refugee -- not refugee -- but indigenous women. Access to information, education, democratic processes, and challenges include cost and infrastructure availability which is a big thing.

      So that's kind of it for me. So far. And if you have thoughts or questions, please kind of like lock them down. Because you already have an opportunity to unpack it. But first let's hear also about an incredible group of discuss who have done great work in this area. Katie Drew who's done great work with HCR and with Save the Children.


     >> Katie Drew: Good morning, everyone. I have to admit that I'm standing in for my colleague, Samantha, who specifically works for connectivity with refugees. We have a report that was produced in 2016 that's probably worth having a look into because it's got a lot more details. Just to highlight, actually, it doesn't nuance into the level of the segregation that maybe we're going to discuss today. So, I just wanted to sort of maybe bring out those issues a little bit more.

      And I think it's important to note, I know we've broken it down to groups already, but actually just to highlight that not all refugee women live in camps. Actually 60% of our current population don't live in camps. So, I think it's very important as we conceptualize how to meet these challenges, we think of women working in urban areas because they're very often invisible and how to reach out to those. Also, when we think about the camp environments, how do we move away from centralized services to a more sort of devolved way of meeting women and women's needs. Because we know that it's very challenging for women to walk across the camp to essentialized service, maybe to an internet cafe, for example, because of various cultural norms and practices that might mean it's not possible for them to get there.

      Only 40% of our refugee women live in rural locations. Of those locations, 17% of those locations have access to 3-G connectivity. So, we're looking at very, very low level of data connectivity on your mobile phone. The mobile phone is the primary device that refugees use to access the internet. Even in the urban areas as well we find.

      It's very important that behind this we look at a very general backdrop that when we see in middle income and low-income countries, women are 21% less likely to own a mobile phone than a man. And we actually see those numbers are hyper in refugee populations, especially ones that have recently been displaced. Many times, they've not been able to carry their mobile phone across the border for fear or for confiscation, they get damaged on the way. So, access to devices is really one of the critical challenges that women face. They're extremely expensive for them and in an emergency situation where refugees have just arrived to a new location, they don't have the disposable income to spend on assets like this.

      One of the specific challenges that women face or refugees face, but sometimes women more so is the documentation requirements that is needed in a new country to access the SIM card and what registration do they need and whether they're legally able to access an SIM card. So very often we find that refugees are excluded from being able to access SIM cards legally and women because of literacy levels might not be able to fill in the documentation or apply for an SIM card even if they can do so. So that's one of the specific challenges around access to devices, pricing plans.

      The second most important challenge that we found was digital literacy. And women's ability to access the internet base on the languages they speak. Very often they might not have accessed the schools, so they don't speak the national language, local language which is on the internet or not the written capacities they have in these languages. That's a very important aspect. And, again, its's around confidence to use these devices and the cultural constraints, even taboos around women, only used devices, having access to the internet, and power dynamics that mean that women might not be encouraged to have access to information. You have to really think about the situations that we're working in.

      So, I just wanted to provide a couple more examples to kind of highlight some of these challenges. One was in Uganda, for example. Where women were sort of explaining to me, oh, we don't need to pay money for charging our mobile phone. On the surface, that's great. Okay, you go to a charging station, it sort of pops up in new settlements, we see them with solar panels and you don't need to pay money. But when we dug into this deeper, it was clear that there were other transactions that were taking place. On a less sensitive note, maybe swapping rations, which means they are more vulnerable for malnutrition but swapping other swapping other things, other transactional things that we need to look at the protection environment that these women are living in and the vulnerabilities and how important it is for them to access information and what we can do to mitigate those risks so that women don't need to have transactions in order to be able to access charging credit on devices.

      One of the other things that I think we should look at is the power or maybe the danger of the information that women are accessing. One is based on an example from an urban area in Egypt where women were provided XMS text messages to their mobile phone, providing sort of links to additional information around family planning, and actually women reported there had been an increase in domestic violence because they weren't able to delete the messages if they didn't know how to, maybe they're only used to using their mobile phone for voice calls, etc., so when their husbands or male member of the family had found the message on the phone, they were accused of infidelity. So, this is a real sort of issue around how do we make sure we're protecting women to be able to competently use that information without it endangering them in other situations.

      There's many, many other points that I could talk about. I think one for us as UNHCR is specifically around sustainability challenges and providing internet access to communities, to women's communities.

      So, for example, we have satellite connection to some of the camps on the border between democratic republic of Congo and Central African Republic. These are great. They're really well used and we're seeing women's literacy classes running, women are very well -- they're very comfortable to access the internet. And they were pleased to use this. They set up their own women's livelihoods group. On the backside of that is the expense that it costs to get that satellite connectivity there and how feasible is it as an organization or as a group of humanitarian organizations, to continue to provide that and at what point can that sustainability and that ownership be taken over by a community that has very limited access to disposable income? And I think for us, that's the challenge. It's not getting the technology there, it's keeping the technology there and the ownership of the technology. So, yeah, we can talk in the breakaway groups a little bit more. But, yeah, that's my list of first challenges.

     >> Jac Kee: Thank you so much, Katie. That's like super rich already. I'm going to play that in slow motion. And Josephine? Okay, would you just like to give us -- share with us some of your insights that you gained through your work with Evelyn.

     >> Josephine: My name is Josephine from Kenya. I'm an ISOC ambassador. The research we did in collaboration with ISOC and we focused on a refugee camp in the northern part of Kenya. The refugee camp has a population of 184,839 refugees and asylum seekers and women contribute more than 50% of the population. So due to time, we were able to -- it was a very small sample of women that we talked to. And mostly were between the ages of 20 to 29 years. Talking to their needs for access, number one, the need for communication. Most of the relatives live outside of the camp, and so in terms of just finding out how they're doing and the main platforms for communications were twitter or Facebook.

      They also have a need for financial access. So, their relatives send money to them using platforms like PayPal and also in Kenya, money is very -- it's like 90% of the population have access to mobile money and the main platform is Impessa (phonetic) used to make payments. Then the other need was education. There's an NGO in their camp that has in the university and they're able to access on-line education. So they used the internet to do research and also submit their assignment.

      There are some who are interested in finding on-line jobs to help them get income generating. And the last one was entertainment, most of who are interested wanted to access youtube and other forms of entertainment on-line.

      Barriers to access, the first thing was cost to connectivity and also cost to the devices. They lack funds to afford devices with their smart phones and laptops as well as affording connectivity. So, one of the ladies say the challenges they face is to get money, to buy a smart phone, and also there are some areas in the refugee camp where the connectivity is very poor. So, they have to go to those areas at certain times and when it's lit, it becomes a security issue for women. Electricity in the camp is also not very good. So, they have to pay to be able to access generators and one of the quotes is that it is difficult for you to charge your phone and a laptop since we don't have sufficient electricity in the camp. For instance, we hire electricity wires from generator owners which, when it rains, you do not have access to the charging and then they pay 1,000 Kenyan shillings, which is like $10 for them to be able to charge.

      Access to relevant content, so there was a quote by one of the women who said lack of relevant content for women and girls in the internet. So far, I haven't found anything that I can be able to focus on that is important. There's also lack of skills on accessing the internet. So, when you say, no, I've never used the internet because I lack the information on how to get job opportunities and also on how to use the internet.

      The last barrier was cultural barriers. And that is many women in the camp, because once you're married, some are not allowed by their husbands either to own a mobile device or to access social media. So, in terms of what they would like to be done, they say awareness of the importance of the internet would be key for them because most of them just see it as an opportunity to maybe go on-line and use it for entertainment and not really as a way to get education and also to earn money.

      Then access to devices that enable them to connect, more knowledge and skills on how to use the internet and improvement in electricity in the camp. Thank you.

     >> Jac Kee: Thank you, Josephine. I think the two presentations gives us a good sense of different dimensions. So next let's move to Serene who will talk to us a little bit more about indigenous women.

     >> Serene: Hi. I just want to give a bit of context. So, what I'm about to say is based on my interactions and conversations with indigenous women who have the living experience, which I don't. So, I spoke to them about indigenous women from four countries. This Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar and Thailand. What keeps striking me is like what Jac said earlier, there's no such thing as one category for all women and this includes for indigenous women as well. It's almost impossible to pinpoint like a cut across barriers when it comes to the internet.

      So not all of them live in remote areas. Some of them have actually integrated their lives in urban and suburban areas. So, in places where there's internet access, excuse me, where there's an area, right, its's being used for a wide range of purposes from activism to social. And like one of the recurring themes, and this was seen in interviews I did in Myanmar, Indonesia, and Malaysia, is that women are saying that in their opinion they're not using the internet for the good reason or they're not using the internet properly. When I ask them why, they say they're using the internet to meet people, to at a you can to men outside of their village, to form relationships, to watch YouTube and various content. I want to ask what content, right? You know for entertainment and to learn things, I think that's the division of what is good and bad internet. And also, how women perceive their own usage of internet as sort of less important.

      And some of the barriers that was -- that came up from the conversation I had, one of them, the main one remains availability and the ability of internet. It remains unavailable in many parts of the communities. And I also see in places where people can't afford mobile phones, but charging it can be an issue because there's no electricity in the village. So, they have to rely on solar power or generators all when they can afford the plan, the quality of connection is not the same as what you get in urban areas.

      And in places where there is internet access, capacities and skills, lack of confidence in using technology and mobile phones becomes a barrier. This is especially obvious among women.

      In one of the interviews with an activist in Myanmar, she said that the reason -- one of the reasons is because men tend to have better opportunities in learning technology because they go out more often to run errands. So, they learn and meet people and that's how they pick up the skills as compared to women.

      And then the next barrier, it's also time, which is something that was also -- it's also reported in 2016BPF outcome document. Similarly, indigenous women have multiple responsibilities, they have to work on the family farm, plantations, or any other farms or economic activities. And on top of that, they're supposed to do work at home and during community events or celebrations, women are expected to do the work -- I'm sorry, to do the work of planning, cooking, serving, and cleaning for the community. And this represents an opportunity in the local events. And that's also the barriers of lack of relevant content, mainly around language, or they simply don't see how internet is needed in their lives. But I felt like we needed to be mindful and to really unpack exactly why do they not see the need of the internet.

      And lastly, relations within the community are extremely important. One where internet is available, it doesn't mean they will have access or meaningful access to the internet. But research by organization and power shows that even indigenous women in Malaysia experience gender-based violence on-line. And these are from people within their own communities. And this happens on a closed platforms created only for the indigenous communities.

      The research shows that it is indigenous women who ultimately bear the burden of instabilities of systemic marginalizations and oppression from operations. We see the power goes against the women to get out in their own communities. This release suggests a strong perception that women, even within these communities, are deemed to have an inferior status as compared to men.

      And there's often this pressure of the need to stand together, you know, in solidarity with the more important issues, which are political representations, or to not be at the front line of the fight, who are often predominantly men. So somehow issues of gender-based violence on-line is seen as less important and goes unspoken and unheard.

      One of my respondents on the network left the platform as a result of gender-based violence on-line. We see another reup respondent who, even though does not directly experience attack, but truer observations of the experience of the others had somehow sensed the way she speaks on line or she has to frame herself from offending the others. Thank you.

     >> Jac Kee: Thank you so much, Karen, she's the resource developer of a women's right organization that advocates for women's equality in Malaysia and colleague and partner in crime for many things.

      Next, let's look at youth and the interception between youth and rural and urban divide. Let's start with Bruna Santos is the 2017 ambassador and member of this special interest group, Youth Observatory.

     >> Bruna Santos: Hi, good morning, hi. As explained by Jac, we divided the whole study in the group and the one I was left with -- not left with, but embraced, was the youth one. But starting by delving into the subject, we are the digitally native generation. We are born with the internet. We started doing it every since the beginning. We wake up with our phones in our hands, we sleep with our phones in our hands, we eat, sleep, do pretty much anything on-line. This is our lives. I'm talking to a guy with my phone right here. I was Instagramming starting the session, so that's part of it.

      But despite all of this, we still face some barriers. And this -- they can be like more or less given the regional and geographical content that we find ourselves into.

      So, when looking at the surveys' answers, we found at least I looked into four groups of barriers, the first one was safety concerns, the second one was affordability and availability, the third will be digital literacy and the fourth and last one would be the thing we aim for the most and dream about is gender equity and access. On the affordability and ability, the problem is lack of affordable devices. We're still in the early stage of our careers. We don't have access to like a lot of money where some of us do rely on their parents or not. And therefore, like, sometimes we don't have money to buy phones to have access to the internet and be mobile.

      On the usual literacy note, this is the generation that goes on with the internet. So, we learn a lot from it, we profit from it at some point. But some girls in some situations, they don't have access to the internet given cultural norms or any situation that you're in. So, if girls are not educated, we won't be able to navigate the web, even in their own language.

      Thirdly, on the gender equity and access opportunity, I will go back to the cultural barriers which are -- we still face like some cases of really young stay-at-home moms, child marriage, stereotypes that we have to face given our like cultural norms or situations simple like your parents might not enjoy the internet because they think there's a lot of porn on-line. So, you won't be able to access it because of social convention or prejudice.

      And also, the biggest thing, the most concerning thing, which is the stereotype around the concept that technology is something strictly for men. So, we won't be profiting from it. Trying to finish the barrier, the last one was safety concerns. So, if I start to point out questions we faced violence against women on-line. We faced body shaming and raping -- we have apps for raping women, rating your friends. We used to have them. It's like having -- being the generation that lives in it, we worry a lot more about the internet than others do. So, if some review about me or the speech I'm trying to give right now goes on-line, I don't know what will happen. I mean, I will feel like -- I feel like this generation will give more attention to what's written on-line than others. So, whatever goes on about us is, it's kind of hard.

      We also use it -- the safety concerns goes under like the dating area and going back to sexuality as well. We have apps for dating. So, we work like this today, so if we go on a date, you start to worry whether or not the person is real or anything is going to happen to you.

      Last but not least, we tend to find a lot of information on-line. So, I was talking to some friends recently and I found out that a lot of my friends like while growing up asked many, many questions on their sexuality on-line, not to the parents. So, I mean before like facing their parents and talking about, hi, mom, I just had my first time, they went on-line to see what would happen.

      And yeah, so -- and while -- and in this research, we found a lot of like really good interesting initiatives, which I will mention two of them. One of the most interesting is Hamara internet translated to "our internet" which is an initiative to raise awareness of digital violence against women in Pakistan. So, they have a site for teaching women what is on-line harassment and how to tackle it. And what steps people should follow when facing it.

      And they also are doing a road map called putting evil on the map in which they take Pakistan's map and try to point out where anything is happening.

      The second one is chicas in technology, a Latin initiative trying to empower little schoolgirls how to code and teaching them not to fear it. I guess I'll finish here and we'll talk later.

     >> Jac Kee: Thank you so much, Bruna. Let's move to Chenai. So Chenai works with Research ICT Africa which does amazing work around research on access like the name says, in the region.

     >> Chenai Chair: Thank you very much, Jac. Yeah, I think we do amazing work.


Given that I think we're one of the few organizations on the continent that does this. So, I'll be talking about youth and rural women as well. And in this last year, we conducted the focus group study in Tanzania Rwanda and Nigeria where we wanted to understand how youth makes use of the internet and we focus on the age group of 15 to 19 and 20 to 24. This comes from the understanding that experiences of young people were completely different and when you break it down, so teens have a different experience in comparison to young adults. 

      So, what we found were gender challenges were standing out to young women with the perception of young women that they were not trusted in the communities they stayed in or their lives were heavily monitored and controlled when it came to internet use. We found in rural Tanzania, for example, women were seen as troublemakers likely to get pregnant or fall out of school, so there wasn't much investment that was done for the education.

      In urban Tanzania, we found that for young women who were trying to get work, they were more likely to face sexual harassment from older male employers who were asking for sexual favors in order for them to secure employment. And then we also found that in places like Rwanda, parents were reluctant to see their children -- to see young women leave their houses to get employment because they felt like they weren't sure what it is they were going to do with their lives.

      And in Nigeria, we found young women's movements were mostly monitored. This is true across-countries. So, if your point of access to the internet is a public access point, for example, a public Wi-Fi or a library, the movement will be limited by the parents who were not sure what you were going to do or didn't trust that you would make it actually to the internet cafe.

      So, what we found is there are a lot of beyond access challenges that actually impact negatively on the young woman's experiences when it comes to internet access and use. And from there on, I think once again, what has been coming out is the issue around power dynamics and power barriers where young men also perceived themselves as being better than young women and feeling like they have some kind of more responsibility to their families and that young women are more -- have more family responsibilities. So, you're not expected to be in an internet cafe or making use of the internet on your own mobile device, you're expected to be taking care of family responsibilities so your time to actually make use of the internet is quite limited.

      So, what we found as well that should possibly be a possible intervention when it comes to young women and internet access around relative content, that the content is on-line is not as relevant to the young women in countries that we interviewed and also became a language issue where most of the content is in English, but English is not the language that the young women -- that these participants were quite comfortable with.

      And then also we found that young women making productive use of the internet, we found one post that a young woman had started a modelling agency and she was using the internet to share the content. But the biggest challenge was around the community support of young women as entrepreneurs when it comes to making use of the internet.

      So, for us, what was clear is that having provision for access in terms over making access affordable, we've made access available in these public places or we're placed by the barrier of the cultural norms for perceptions of young women and the question is how do we shift the cultural perceptions that impact on young women's access to the internet? So that's for young women. 

      And then for rural women, what we do know, rural men and women, we know that supply is an issue. When it comes to access to good connectivity where you have all of your good coverage of the internet in your rural community or quality of network, so that you don't have to go and climb up a tree to be able to access the internet or you don't have to go climb a hill top, and you've also got issues around ownership of devices. So, in some households, people are sharing a device.

      So, then that's one issue that is actually agreed upon and people are working around it. But once again, the cultural issues come into play and the power dynamics that impact on levels of access and use. So, you find that women in rural areas expected to, once again, be the ones in charge for responsibilities. So, your time on-line is quite limited.

      In fact, we had one respondent saying you find women are burning the chicken because you're on the internet. Who has ever burned the chicken? So, this is based on qualitative focus groups that we did. And so, it's quite interesting the perceptions that men have towards what they expect women to be doing. They don't expect women to be on-line.   They expect women to be in the house and running the house. And then when you think about it as well, even though there's been provisions around public access points, you find that you can't necessarily be in the family access points because of an issue of trust and power dynamics, where have you been? What have you been doing? And in some communities where gender-based balance is described, you find that for the sake of peace, women opt not to be on-line at a particular time. We had an instance in one of the communities that we interviewed in South Africa where the participants say that she's asked her partner to not go on-line. So, they stopped going on-line for a certain time of the day. But for her, it's an issue that she's more likely to face gender-based violence if she breaks this rule. But in some instances, people get married and they're no longer on-line.

      Okay, so once again, I think one of the interventions that has come -- been an issue is unpacking cultural issues that limits women's access to -- that impact on women's access and use of the internet. And then once again, digital literacy where we find that respondents simply want to know what the internet is and having access to devices -- having access to devices is more expensive. And also having a choice that participants have where in some rural areas, you've only got one or two operators and the operators that are in there are actually the most expensive. So, we've got those -- those are my interventions.

     >> Jac Kee: Thank you so much.  I'm realizing suddenly the sinking feeling that we're rapidly running out of time and there's still a lot of speakers and want to do breakout groups so I don't think this breakout groups is going to happen.

But we will try to get like enough time for a conversation going after all of the interventions anyway and apologize for this and hopefully you have a ton of things to say still.

      Okay, so -- so now let's -- we've talked a little bit about the different groups and the different kinds of barriers and challenges. Now we'd like to change -- shift gears a little bit. We have potential responses, we have two people with us that work on access in different areas. It's quite an exciting response to addressing some of the access issues especially looking at very, very specific locales and communities. First, we have Carlos, Carlos ray Romano with APC and looking at heading a project in access in various locations, so Carlos, who is very nervous, by the way.

     >> Carlos Ray Romano: Thank you very much, Jac. It's good for me to be able to share the experience that I have been in South Africa to implement together with our community network there. I by no means am not a gender expert and I have learned so much listening to you all in this panel.

      And so, in a way, stepping back and maybe focusing on the project that we are currently having, we believe that some of the challenges that all of you have been mentioning might be embedded in the paradigm of the access as being provided by mobile operators and big companies that are outside the communities where the access has been provided. And they have no connections with the realities of what is happening there.

      And by the communities themselves and engaging in the discussions around providing themselves with their own connectivity to meet their own communication needs, there is a good opportunity to explore how these challenges that women and girls in communities are facing. But there is not that much evidence. There is not that many opportunities to explore that, actually, I believe there is one single paper, academic paper, looking at gender and community networks. And where my colleagues, the person looking at gender and in these projects that I'm heading. This project that we are having we're trying to explore precisely that -- we're going to go and do exploratory research in six communities to understand what is happening with regards to gender participation in these community networks, right? The first one actually we're going to go visit is Myanmar. We're going to tell you all about, right? But how we can learn from these brave women who have overcome cultural norms and other problems who spoke before. They're among the few women who are leading the community networks. The community network space is very male dominated, but somehow unluckily, I believe, is very open to explore this.

      There are several community network leaders or champions or however you want to call them, that we want to see how we can open the space for more women participation. We simply don't know how. So, this was an invitation to a dialogue between both genders, and I think yesterday we had the dinner about local access and community networks and in many conversations came to the floor in this regard. And I think it was very nice that this dialogue is starting to appear, because in my experience as well with any networks, something that happened is that by the two main local champions to come in this event to hearing all of these challenges, even to do research in the communities and understanding how there is this gender gaps in the participation, in the access, in the -- they're becoming more aware on -- of how to try to implement mechanisms to allow the participation of more women.

      So, yeah, I think it's valuable. And I think I -- I'm going to leave it there and maybe that we can continue. Because with the rest of the panel, I don't have anything to say.

     >> Jac Kee: Thanks, Carlos. There's quite a few nervous people. I didn't realize. I'm getting tweets. Dr. Savani I met yesterday evening and had one of the best conversations of my life, I'm totally geeking out on understanding community access and the technology behind it and TV white space. I'm really looking forward to your input.

     >> Panelist: Good morning, everyone. Thanks, Jac, for giving me the opportunity to speak here. I am a senior research scientist at the rural broadband project at the Indian institute of technology, IT Bombay. We have been working on providing connectivity to impowering women and empowering rural India digitally. We've been working on the project since the year 2012. And we have set up the Soviet locations or the villages that are completely unconnected. So, they're not connected with even 2-G or 3-G signal. If you look at the connectivity scenario, 640 villages in India don't have connectivity at all. Out of which, 50,000 villages don't even have voice connectivity. So, the scenario is really grim and a lot of work needs to be done.

      The government of India is doing its level best to do -- to lay the fiber to reach all of the village offices, but then laying the fiber is a very tedious job, the right of way and other issues coming into play.

      So, what we do is since the year 2000, we got funding from Ford Foundation in the year 2013 and we connected seven villages in rural Marasha. Imagine kilometers from Mumbai, the metropolitan city, there's no connectivity. So, you can imagine the state, how it is in the villages in India.

      So, they took seven villages and connected it through the TV white space technology. We got the license from the department of telecommunication and we connected it to that technology. These villages -- and we did an impact assessment of what -- how internet connectivity has influenced the lives of people in the villages. And we saw that it has really impacted a lot in terms of money, time, and effort that they have saved by not going to the nearby city to do their internet activities, like in the sense that they have to have a lot of -- they have to pay electricity bills, they have this land bills that you have to pay, certificate, for each, everything they have to go through the nearby city. So, we are doing it here.

      Now, after we -- after that, it was these people, we decided sort of license was taken back by the government. And we were coming out of the place when these people told us that, no, can we have the community network of our own. The internet network will be our own network. It's going to be a network of the people by the people for the people. They asked us to handle it.

      And in the year 2015, we scaled it up to 25 villages, again, we have taken village tribal locations that are away from Mumbai, and these locations have no connectivity at all. So, there are no -- there are no ISPs going over there. There's no 2-G signal over there, there's no 3-G signal. So, we have connected them with the optimal mix of technology that's in the white space and 5.8, 5.8 gig hertz is unlicensed band. We're lobbying for the license, but, yeah, we have connected.

      Now, I would like to say in these communities where the network is now operational, it's a live network there, I would like to say about the women's participation in these community led projects.

      What I found is that when I began the search in the year 2015, when I asked them, I asked these women over there, do you need internet connectivity? They told me, no, we don't need internet connectivity. There was no digital awareness in the -- amongst the people over there. Leave alone the women. But there's no -- absolutely no evidence -- digital awareness is an important aspect. For understanding the benefits of internet to embrace internet connectivity, they will not do so. So, it took us some time to actually handle them and to tell them about what internet can do for them. So that is the reason why they would like to use the internet.

      Now, we are talking about internet as a fixed broadband. So, we're actually not even talking about internet that we give it to them on the phones and everything. So, it's going to be a village office, a village office where the internet connectivity is there. That's where the women come, the men come and have the -- they have all of the on-line certificate and everything they do. All of the internet things over here, over at the village office.

      What we found -- what I am finding in these villages is that women's participation is quite an astounding thing. And what I see is that many of the villages in the locations where we are doing are -- where we are connecting, are led by women headmen. So, the women are the headmen of the village. So they have quite a lot of rights on how they can develop their own village through internet connectivity and they can have it as a priority over other things. In other words, they're also fighting against gender inequality, that are fighting against caste inequality. They're fighting against socioeconomic -- they don't have that amount of economic resources. So, they're fighting against all these things. But in spite of these they think of internet connectivity as a right by which they need to have this as a right now.  

      And what I see is that many of the women in the villages are facilitated by the -- by women being the headman of the village. If there is a woman who is the headman of the village, then she facilitates a lot of the activities amongst the women to make them digitally aware, to even provide them the space so women can't even, for example, if they have to look into something like some -- if they have some issues like something which they can't share with anything in the village, they come to the location, the village office after 5:00 in the evening when the office closes down and they come there and then they operate the internet. They use the internet there. They close all of the other security issues so they go inside the office and they lock it from inside. So, these are some of the things -- these are some of the things that -- at our location. And, yes, this is what -- if there are some questions, I would like to answer.

     >> Jac Kee: Thank you so much. So, we have one more intervention. How are you doing? Are you doing okay? Yeah? Okay? Okay. We're going to try and like open this up super soon. But we have one more intervention from Karla, I'm sorry, I'm mangling everyone's names but this is like -- not going to go there -- stop. Okay. Who's the policy analyst of ITU based in Geneva and she will tell us about the ITU initiatives in this. I'm sorry if I have to ask you to be a little brief. Thanks.

     >> Panelist: Thank you very much. Good morning, everyone. Thank you for inviting us. So just a very quick update on -- on ITU's initiatives to gender equality on the digital -- bridging the digital gender gap is -- is one of the top priorities for the ITU, part of the course of the other program of the digital inclusion. So last -- last we talked last year about the best practice forum on gender we launched a partnership to bridge the divide, a multi-stakeholder partnership. So, we're working closely with different organizations, international organizations, private sector, but also civil society and -- and governments. And a framework of action that is focusing on access, skills, and leadership. So, access of course, providing access to women and girls. Skills in a sense to keep women with ICT studies, and leadership, how to have more women on senior management positions represented in senior management positions in the tech sector, but also how to add more women as entrepreneurs. 

      So, the partnership was launched last year with five co-founders, we're working very closely with GMSA, with ICT, the international center and UN women, and -- and the partnership is taking a kind of evidence-based approach. So, we -- the UN -- the united nation university is leading up a research group that is composed by 26 universities from around the world. And actually we're very -- we follow up with some of you later on because it's very important to understand what is the -- the research developed on the ground so then it can be taken into account by the members of the research group. Since last year, we're also partnering with -- with the IGF on -- on the digital -- on the digital inclusion map. We find it also under the EQUALS.org website, that's a map that basically show cases initiatives around the world. They're looking specifically at gender equality on-line.

      The map now has again, thanks for the support, of course, of the IGF and the best practice forum, it has the government of Germany around 500 projects mapped. We still have a long way to go because we know a lot is happening on the ground. So if you do not find your initiatives on the map, it's not because it doesn't exist, but because we didn't manage to capture that -- the projects. So we would be around and, please, send us your feedback in the map and then we look forward to continuing a working relationship with the best practices forum. Thank you so much.

     >> Jac Kee: Thank you, everyone who really input --

[ Applause ]

No? Good to clap. Brings some energy. The floor is officially open. I apologize that we only have ten minutes. But it's really super important to hear what you think or if you have specific questions. And let's get them all in one gulp.

     >> Good morning, I'm Charlotte. And in my country, we have a similar problem that many have said, difficult to get access. Sometimes we don't have the internet. No information access. We don't know about the English content. We speak French. So, I don't know if you can confront in English. Difficult to know if you don't have a school in English. And because of my country for some years we're on the border, the people use the have some money. So now when you want to apply in our country, it's difficult. Because in the opportunity, our country is no

(?)and also, to see the similar problem in another country. But we trying to help the women to use the internet and to have the confidence, leadership, and training. But it's difficult because the community also have no support. I don't know if in your program you have maybe the particular program to support the community in Africa.

     >> Jac Kee: Thank you so much. We're going to take a few more and then get a round of response. So, are there any thoughts or inputs that you would like to share?

     >> Hello, I'm Soledad Roibal (phonetic). I'm with the U.S. state department under the previous administration and also done work with the ITU and EQUALS. I'm interested in hearing more about the need for a culture shift. Ultimately, it's an issue of equality as a whole. And I'm wondering where if people can talk more about the successes that they've seen in -- in that, in convincing men in their communities the value in having women on-line. And how we can really focus on that. And also, how we can honestly address some of the issues. The women from UNHCR mentioned the exchange of other things. When I think it's important for us to really be honest of what some of those other things are and sometimes it's often sex. And women are put into very difficult positions when they are being forced to exchange sex to get their phones charged. Or, you know, things like that. It's -- how do we have those real honest open conversations about the fact that this is culture and how do we make those changes? Thank you.

     >> Jac Kee: Thank you, very good question. And Angie?

     >> Audience: Hi, I'm Angie. I'm also with ISOC. I want to talk with you about two projects very fast. The first IGF forum, it was in Mexico. And it was called to and meeting on Sunday and Saturday and the first time on IGF in this meeting. In Mexico, the IGF were to teach young women about internet governance and digital security and other issues and other problems and other things.

      The second I invite ten collaborators and worked together with a new group of special interests and women-owned internet society. There was space and finally to seek and collaborate and empower women. Thanks.

     >> Jac Kee: Thanks, Angie.

     >> Audience: I'm here from Brazil. I want to ask for Bruna, because she told like the technologia. Because I do participate as ambassador on technovation is teaching girls how to program, how to do work they can do better. Is there a certain age that's good for us to teach them? Because as soon as we get older, society is shaping us, they're telling us, "you cannot do that," and I feel like when you're teaching a kid and she's like 10 years old. For her, the entire world can be like in her hands. So, is there an age or something in a we can do for that?

     >> Jac Kee: I think it's a lifelong thing. But good question. Is there any other ones and then maybe we've got really just five minutes left. And I guess I would really just like to go through bearing in mind, okay? Very quickly in one sentence.

     >> Panelist: Absolutely. I want to say something. I'm Carolina, I'm with an international registry for Latin America and the Caribbean. And I wanted to sort of raise the issue about how we bridged the digital gap in the sort of very advanced technical community. It's sort of working on sort of the fixed gender quite strongly. We don't have, as of yet, best practices per se to -- to share. We'll be doing a project next year, a fellowship program, to get more women involved in our technical events. But I see there are a lot of initiatives to get young women on to technology. My question is how do we transform those male-dominated communities that already exist and get more women involved in those spaces too? Thank you.

     >> Jac Kee: We hear quite a few things pop up a lot, one of the biggest things is shifting culture and stereotypes which has a huge impact on thinking about progress. In this, it shifts from space-to-space and groups of women, but it's a major factor. The other thing is about language and the availability of language that is not in English and also relevant content, for example, and that on-line and off-line gender-based violence is a huge factor to consider when coming -- when thinking of access and gender issues. Before I sort of give the last word to each of the discussants, I want to remind again this work is ongoing. We would like to invite your participation and your engagement in this work. Please come and see either myself or Mili or Anri at the end of the session if you would like to participate and we'll tell you how. The survey is up, if you can use that to speak to your communities as well, that will be fantastic. We aim to get a first draft-second draft out by march. So, if you can do that for us, it would be really, really helpful as well as the initiatives you shared here that you want to be part of this best practice work as well, we would welcome it hugely. So, thank you very much. Now to the panelists. You can do it.

      Yes, many you know, please share a little bit about your last work. Okay.

     >> Panelist: Well, to the question on age --

I mean I guess as soon as possible. We still have some children going to school and having classes on like how it is important to code. In Brazil, I've seen teachers teaching girls how to code through mine craft. It's a video game. People can learn from that. And I guess one key thing to do is not differentiate like teach them from the very early beginning how they can be working on that and how this is not a man's thing, it's no it a girl's thing. A girl can be like developing games on line. So, it's super fun, it's super nice, also, I wish I had gone this way.

      On the culture issues, quickly. We can be present in every single forum possible and showing and having -- speaking and taking the turns and this is pretty much what I had to say.

     >> Jac Kee: Thank you.

     >> Panelist: To come back to your question, it's really challenging and it takes time and trust. And I think that where I've noticed a big disconnect between technology and refugee environments is that it's not working with traditional communication ecosystems. So, we don't go in and observe how does this community normally practice, how is this being fractured by displacement, and how are they starting to pick up those communications again.

      And just like with any work, we cannot do it without engaging men and boys. And I think that a lot of focus on women literacy classes, digital education classes, have been at the exclusion of men. And we really -- we really need them to be in the room. That's not a panacea, that's not the silver bullet. But to your solution, are we going to get there tomorrow? But I think without that time and without that general community trust and working with the intersect of traditional communications and how that community traditionally allows or not women to access information, we're not going to get there when we start introducing new and relatively frightening technologies when you consider how empowering they could be for women.

     >> Panelist: Regarding breaking down cultural barrels, I think what we have done in our communities is that the women work alongside men in building up the community network themselves. They have a sort of responsibility. So, men and women share the responsibility with the other. I've seen my identity that it's not so much of a discrimination between men and women. Women are actually taking equal -- actually equally participating in the network. So, they are actually -- they are also earning for the networks. So, they are -- it's a business model for them. So, they are actually participating.

      And regarding the content, we do have some of the content from the government of India, the government of India has some of the local regional language content which is translated -- which is put forth to the villagers over there. So that's something that's there already.

>> Carlos: In Africa, there's a cup of initiatives I know of. I don't know about the support you're requiring, gender-based violence or setting up the network. But there are places that there are organizations that are trying to promote the technical capacity of women and I will encourage you if you want and I will put you in contact with them and maybe there are resources for you to attend the workshops. We'll hopefully start to working with them to build up capacity.

     >> Panelist: I just want to talk about content in particular in a different language. I think for me my perception is that there has to be an understanding that we are also producers of the content and make use of the platforms that we have to put the content that's relevant to us. I do not know some people set up like specific closed groups on Facebook and they use those forums to have discussion and it's in the language they understand. I know it's a platform someone else created, but it he's one way to start to perceive like how do we the with the resources we have, how do we make sure we're put ugh the content in our Lang Wang that we understand. That's relevant to us. So, shifting the understanding of having to wait for the content to be put on-line but rather as putting the content on-line.

     >> Panelist: On culture, she's right. In specific to one of our visits to one of the indigenous communities. And there's gender disparity. It's obvious to understand that the solution is not to bring in the ideas at this point. Because there's no point if they're not going to run the thing or be part of the process of building it. I don't know, it's a long process.

     >> Jac Kee: Thank you so much for the participation today and thank you for being a part of that.

[ Applause ]