The following are the outputs of the captioning taken during an IGF intervention. 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, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
>> MOIRA WHELAN: In just a minute for those of you joining online, for those of you online, people are just waking up and coming in. So we are going to give it just a minute.
Scoot up, everybody! Come join us!
So should we get started?
>> What time is it?
>> We are streaming now.
>> MOIRA WHELAN: We're going to do one more minute, but I would invite people in the room to move closer to the front. Join us for this conversation.
For those joining us virtually, it's the first session of the day, and we're in a big room! So we expect people to be joining us, but ‑‑ yeah, we're going to start here in about a minute.
Okay. Well, I think we're streaming, and I think we have a group here. So I will get us started. My name is Moira Whelan with the National Democracy Institute. And I would like to welcome to our panel which is sponsored by Policy which we are thrilled to be here and partnering with them on, "Enabling a Safe Internet for Women and Girls."
And Before I Introduce Our Panel and Our Discussion, I have to tell you this conversation was conceived of months ago, in Brussels, when a group of us were at another Internet conference and we really found a gap. We really didn't hear this conversation happening. And it bothered us. So we stood around. We came up with the idea to have a conversation about gender and women and girls and digital safety and we have been heartened, I think, to come to IGF and see that here on the last day, after kicking off first with Kat's session and the Web Foundation, we had a full week of conversation about this issue. And the best practices forum that we will all be going to later in the day, it's very promising that we are actually going to realize some real progress and real successes on this issue.
The amount of energy and thought and research coming from civil society has been tremendous, and I think we can all take that with us.
So I wanted to kind of kick us off with that understanding today, because, you know, what we really want to talk about are next steps. What do we do? What is the progress? What is it going to take to make an online environment safe for women and girls?
And joining us today, I have a panel of incredibly impressive women. The Honorable Neema Lugangira, who is a member of parliament in Tanzania and we are joined by Onica Makwakwa, and Irene Mwendwa ‑‑ did I do it, Irene?
>> IRENE MWENDWA: Yes, you did.
>> MOIRA WHELAN: We have been. I'm sorry, Irene is with Policy, and Kat Townsend is with the Web Foundation. And we are going to kick off our conversation so people can follow along. We first want to hear from the honorable Lugangira who is going to outline for us her perspective as being a woman in politics and the extra challenges that that poses for her digital experience and the opportunities that she's empowered with, being a member of parliament and the steps we can take to address this issue.
We'll do that and then we'll move to our panelists who will also give interventions and then we'll move to a discussion.
Before I do that, I did want to use the floor to give a bit of attention to what brought NDI to this conversation. Summarizing our event today will be my colleague, Sandra Pepera who is joining us remotely and she leads our gender team. And between the technology and the gender team, we really experienced and were seeing globally that this was becoming a challenge. A lot of NDI's typical work is training women who are candidates who are running for office, and no matter where we looked, the online abuse was the number one deterrent to women to participate in public life. For us, that's a fundamental threat to democracy.
We have done a lot of work to identify hate speech and do lexicon research and take steps to make women safe online, but what we wanted to do, is we went back to those women globally and convened eight focus groups around the world with 100 political women. We came up with a list of interventions. We tested those interventions where text experts and governance experts and we came up with a list of about 24, and they're here. You can find them online at NDI.org. And we really view this as the menu of options because each political situation is different.
But we also look at it as this is not just a tech problem but a political parties problem. This is a parliamentary problem. That there are many ways that we can ‑‑ we can work together to address it. And civil society, obviously, although I have to say the civil society interventions ‑‑ civil society is doing every one of the things that can be done. And are really held of the curve.
So now our next step is Irene joined us on a trip where we went around, we talked to stakeholders like UN Women and we talked to tech companies and we presented these ideas and asked for their help and their partnership in addressing these challenges.
Now we're here. We will also ‑‑ many of the same actors will be guiding us through to CSW in March, which is the UN Committee on the Status of Women, which will look at technology as a major issue. So ‑‑ and we're also supporting the global partnership to end online violence against women in politics which is a US‑led initiative, but with nine global governments at this point, and advisory group to begin addressing this issue from a political standpoint.
So we really are feeling like the stars are aligning, and that there is opportunity for change. Like I said, for NDI, this means that this is ‑‑ this is a game changer for democracy, and that we can have more women involved in politics because we all win when 50% of the global community feel empowered to fully participate in their own political life.
So with that, I want to turn it over to the Honorable Lugangira to start us off just with your perspective on your experience, as well as where you see the opportunities.
>> NEEMA LUGANGIRA: Thank you very much. First of all, good morning, everyone. As introduced, I'm Neema Lugangira, a member of parliament in Tanzania, and also the chairperson for African parliament network on Internet Governance. We have 30 members from 24 plus African countries, and I would like to recognize in the room my colleague, Honorable Susan Dossi from Malawi.
So where do I start?
First of all, I have been active online prior to being a parliamentarian. So November was two years since I became a parliamentarian in November 2020. And the first experience is the ‑‑ like, totally opposite sides of how one is treated online, when you are a leader vis‑a‑vis when you are not. So I used to be active online, post about my work, doing policy advocacy, et cetera. Almost zero abuse.
Suddenly, I'm a member of parliament. I post the same things I used to post, and an enormously incredible amount of abuse. To me that was first shocker, like, whoa, okay. It's as if ‑‑ I guess for women, the more public you are, it's kind of a norm that then you become a target, an easy target. That's number one.
But then the other issue is because you are in politics, you should not raise it. So the moment I started addressing it online, saying that this is abuse, then you get more abuse for raising it. It intensifies. And I remember there was one time I raised it in parliament. So some time last year, asking our Minister of ICT, to look into this issue, particular for women in politics. I aspire to have so many of my female colleagues online, but they are not online and when I would ask them, it is all because of the abuse.
And the day I said that in parliament, I think I got for like a whole week the most abuse I ever got saying, ah you women are crying. You want favors. You want this. I'm like, it's not that.
Now, the biggest challenge that a lot of people don't talk about is this issue of freedom of expression. So the abuse that is being thrown at us, is being pegged around this notion that it's people expressing their freedom of expression. And when I call it out as a politician, as a legislator, then I'm told as a legislator, you want to limit people's freedom of expression. And when a female politician is being attacked and abused online, not own the women human rights activists come to their defense. No one comes to their defense, and this is a fact. No one.
So it's as if society has accepted that women in politics should be abused. It comes with a job title. They tell us that when you decided to get into politics, you knew what you signed up for. Or they tell us that you politicians just like to be praised. You don't like to be critiqued.
Then I ask myself, what is criticism? Criticism is if I raise an issue and you don't accept the issue, let's have an argument or a debate on the issue, on the agenda. But when you shift from the agenda to my gender, that no longer is criticism. That is no longer freedom of expression. That's plain right abuse.
So I personally have an issue when we are pushing for freedom of expression, we forget the other side of the coin. Like, you shouldn't use your freedom of expression to make me not use my own freedom of expression, because as a result, what's happening now, women leaders are choosing to self‑censor. How are we self‑censoring. We are deciding not to be online. Then when we are not online, what does that do to our visibility. The public in which we are leading then assumes women leaders are not doing anything, because we're not visible.
The cheapest and the easiest way for us to gain that visibility is by being online, but if I'm not able to be online because of the abuse, what happens to my visibility?
So this goes against even the efforts of the likes of NDI, trying to get more women into leadership, more women into politics. It's not going to happen. It's not going to happen because the online space is not friendly for us. If I'm a member of parliament, supposedly with the power that I have and the access that I have, but I get abused online to the level of being belittled to almost being nothing, and there is nothing I can do about it, what do you think that young girl who is aspiring to become a politician, the young woman who is aspiring to become a politician, will they want to become a politician?
And unfortunately, the easiest target is to sexualize us. Make us seem as if we are there because we slept with this one, that one, and the other, make us seem like we are there because we did A, B, C, D, and when it's written online with all the graphic necessary, the people in my community who voted for me, they are going to believe it. Am I going to be able to go around and defend myself to everybody? Probably no. In our African community, the worst thing you can do for a woman is peg them sleeping around.
I have a personal experience. One time there's a picture I took with an older man. And he's very well known in politics, very influential and it was outside of parliament. You can see it's parliament and this is the parliament door. I made a contribution ‑‑ and a few weeks later, I made a contribution calling for our government to look at the issue of nutrition for youngsters because of the way they are eating, there's a lot of infertility, et cetera, et cetera.
So what did people do? They went to look for that photo and it was a whole week of abuse that this is what women MPs are doing in the dormer, that's where parliament is. They are going around with men, all the men. It was like nonstop, to the point that I remember when I got home, my son asked me, mom, can you quit being an MP, is it possible to quit? And I didn't understand why he asked me. He told me, because people in school have been saying this about you. And maybe you can resign.
So you can imagine the point it goes to the point of kids and the family, but unfortunately, nobody talks about it. Even when they talk about online abuse on women, it ends with journalists. So what ‑‑ what ‑‑ you asked what am I trying to do? What I'm trying to do is to make a lot of noise that the online abuse of women politician is detrimental to the political space and women.
I meet with a UN tech envoy yesterday and I expressed that UN Women is not carrying this issue of online abuse on women in politics as it should. We're talking about GBVs, gender‑based violence. I need to see online abuse being clearly stated as one of the GBVs. Which at the moment isn't.
I think until we can recognize online abuse as gender‑based violence, it will elevate us, at the moment we are raising it, but you people are just crying for favors and whatnot.
So to sum up, I'm very pleased that we are having this platform, but the impacts of online abuse on women in politics, even what I'm sharing here is just the tip of the iceberg. We have 143 women parliamentarians in Tanzania, less than 10% are online.
In the African parliamentarian network that we have right now, we can ask my colleague there if she's online. They don't want to be online because of the abuse. Then what does it do? And we're all trying to preach gender inclusion. How do you get gender inclusion if your female legislators are not online? Because you need your female legislators to be on the same side with you to achieve the gender ‑‑ that digital gender inclusion, but if we are not able to be online, then who are you advocating for? I end there, thank you.
>> MOIRA WHELAN: I think we can all end there. No.
It's incredibly powerful and thank you very much for sharing that experience, in making a lot of noise, it's also a very personal experience. So we appreciate your courage in being in the legislature and also telling your story.
I want to start then with Irene and come to you and, you know, policy brought us here together today. So when we see experiences like the Honorable, that she's having, how do a group of feminist techies help and contribute to making the online environment safer for women and girls?
>> IRENE MWENDWA: Thank you very much, Honorable Neema for being with us and all the online users here today, because I believe most of you have online ‑‑ you have accounts online, and you see this happening.
And just to set us off, Moira takes these issues very, very seriously and we try and provide solutions together with others in very many different ways.
At policy, the one thing we do, and which is part and parcel of our approach is research. To be able to better inform our governments, to be able to inform the platforms themselves to act fast, they need the evidence.
So against the 2021 general election in Uganda, we are able to conduct research on how women politicians, specifically candidates, how they are using social media, because unfortunately, due to COVID, they were asked to really find other ways of conducting campaigns, which is not physical campaigning and therefore, it required and made most of them to go and engage online, and virtually. So they held Zoom you know ‑‑ they used Zoom. They used WhatsApp communities, WhatsApp groups, Facebook groups. They used, you know, Twitter spaces. They used so many other tools to engage with their communities.
And what happened is we conducted a study and we found whenever women leaders were abused online, of course they felt discouraged one time. Second time, they felt further discussions. And up to the third, fourth time, they left the platform all together.
What does this mean to your male opponent? He will continue to engage and thrive and include the community to vote for them and this affected how women politicians in Uganda were campaigning against their male counterparts. We were able to share that online. It's called "Amplified Abuse." And we engaged with some of the women officials about 20 of them to ask them, are these findings true and what would you want feminist techies as Moira is saying and organizations like ourselves in Uganda and others what would you like for you to engage better online, against the next election. You still need to use and employ these digital platforms.
And they told us, we know how to use some of these platforms, but there are some that remains challenges but also we hear that there are ways that we can improve our engagement online. What are some of these ways to better improve ourselves? And we were able to cocreate a program where we up skill elected women officials from the local government level to national levels to understand these digital platforms first. Because if necessity understand these digital platforms they will be able to use them better. They will be more confident. They will be able to engage their communities to even come onboard and use them better. And they'll be able to share with fellow women politicians to use these digital platforms.
This far, we have been able to train 40 to 50 elected officials in Uganda and Tanzania, and 40 local government level women leaders. They have been able to share and build a community and share and say, yes, they are abusing us, but you can use some of the tools online to report. We can use the tools online to get ahead, because we still need to use these platforms.
The other thing we are going into in the next phase is to see ‑‑ because you will be doing your campaign trails as a woman leader, because you will be engaged in so many things, you know, day‑to‑day activities, are you able to hire social media managers, or are you able to use tools that are available online to better communicate? Because there are tools. You can schedule messages. You know this. We train them to use already available technologies to continue to engage online and this way they build their digital resilience as opposed to leaving the platforms all together.
And then we also encourage them to build peer‑to‑peer communities. They need to talk to one another. They need to encourage one another, so that they can get ahead some of these challenges they face online.
The third approach we use is we talk to the platforms themselves. Trust and safety teams at Twitter, the trust and safety teams and the public policy ‑‑ the public policy are teams at Meta, Google and we ask them, how can you help elected women officials? And one of the ways that we have been there, again, we sit on the policy advisory board for Meta and we can give direct input that are localized to the African context and we are able to have that direct contact and tell them this is what happens. What happens is Honorable Neema can come and say, what are you doing this about? Other influential women who are not necessary elected officials also approach us and tell us, how can we address some of these items from Senegal and other countries in Africa.
We are able to speak directly to these platforms, put the reports together, put all the evidence together in a very organized manner so that they can be able to address. Because at the end of the day, we know that there are people who sit in these platforms who are responsible in ‑‑ to work with civil societies and work with influential women leaders. I would encourage everyone in this room, do not let the backstop with the work you do. Try to build relationships and partnerships with these platforms themselves. Try and build relationships with governments to better improve your data protection acts or legislation or frameworks that can enable women leaders both elected and influential women, use this legislation to seek redress even in our courts of law.
You know, she said she engaged the Ministry of ICT directly to better improve services and engagement for elected women officials. So I see that as a ‑‑ as a very big opportunity for people in this room, to really form those partnerships with governments, to continue to build better ‑‑ better policies and to create room for women leaders to engage and share how we can improve the platforms all together.
Thank you, Moira.
>> MOIRA WHELAN: I will switch it up slightly and first go to Onica. We heard the point about went getting women to become politicians, there's a lot of activity that happens even before then, where girls, their participation, they are making ‑‑ they are self‑censoring their participation and I would love for you to talk about that. And then Kat, we will go straight to you to talk about the Web Foundation's work and the global connectivity and the global partnerships that ‑‑ that you’re fostering.
>> ONICA MAKWAKWA: There we go. Thank you. Thank you so much for that are. Wow! You know, I'm usually talking about inclusion from an access point of view, but part of why we developed the meaningful connectivity framework was so that we can understand also what's impacting that slow access for women and girls but also what happens beyond access, because it's not good enough that we just want people to have access, but they ‑‑ it's important to also understand that they need to remain safe in that ‑‑ in those moments of them being able to access the internet.
The example that Honorable Neema about her son asking her to quit is an excellent one that I will pin my comments on. And that is the realization that online abuse of women actually has an impact on those women, but it also has an impact on the next generation, and that is the girls who are observing this kind of abuse and learning at an early age that this is not a safe space to be in or a desirable place to participate in.
Which then means that we stand a chance of eroding a lot of the benefits and gains we have made on advancing women in the sectors if we now have a platform in a space where women and girls are seeing examples that being successful, being a leader is not a good thing.
So there's a lot of work here for very many sectors but I will focus mainly on government, because that's kind of what ‑‑ you know, in some of the work that we have been doing around policy, we have been looking at.
There is ‑‑ the same way that we have criminalized cat calling women in the streets, touching them inappropriately, we need to understand that this same kind of behavior is exactly what the women are experiencing online. And so there's a need for an updating of legislative frameworks and our criminal laws to actually include this kind of behavior and criminalize it as it should be. It is nothing more than just sexism and based on misogyny and a very toxic way in which we allowed males in particular to interact in society.
So in a space like, this we accepted that this type of behavior is unacceptable and the governments have to take the same that it applies to the online spaces.
It doesn't end there. South Africa has had one of the latest ‑‑ and I heard a lot of people say wonderful things about our cybercrimes law, but I will tell you that while we have the latest cybercrimes law that's so progressive, including criminalizing the pornography and those kind of issues, we also have a law enforcement professionals who don't understand the bill and don't know how to enforce it.
So there is a huge amount of public education that we need to embark on. The same way when we decided that every car driver had to wear a seatbelt because it was safe for them. There was a role for government. There was a role for car manufacturers and there was a role for society and there was public education all across. And that's exactly what we need now.
We don't need to argue about whether it's acceptable or not. It is basically just a microcosm of our society. We accepted that it's not acceptable to treat women like this in public spaces. This is another public space. And so we need to make fitting laws hasn't educate everyone about their role to make sure that we are enforcing this. And this is important. Why? Because first of all, just from a basic human right point of view, women have a right to safety. They have a constitutional right to safety, like everyone else, and in all the spaces.
But secondly, and this is an argument that I really don't like, but sadly, it's one that governments tend to listen to the most.
There is a financial cost to the exclusion of women in digital development. Governments are losing close to a trillion US dollars in women not participating in the digital economy, because they are not going to just select not to participate on one particular platform alone. We know that even in platforms such as Instagram where women try to sell their wares, it's their accounts or hijacked and people posting things that are undesirable and off brand to them. It's another form of violence.
So we have done a lot of work, I think, in understanding how online violence manifests itself, the different ways in which it manifests itself, and we need to add to that, and this is a hijacker of accounts is a new way to silence women online. However, understanding that is good. Developing policies, we have to implement.
You know, we have to implement. We have to criminalize this kind of behavior. We have to also criminalize the people who are enable the behavior, and I will give you an example. We had a woman politician in South Africa about three weeks ago, who had a gentleman ‑‑ well, I don't know if I can call him a gentleman by his behavior. Anyway, we had a man who was extorting her and released a sex tape of her on to Twitter which is a criminal offense, punishable by up to three years in prison. She should not even have to open a case, the police should know what to do and add extortion charges. People are resharing the video, and they know it's criminal. We need to actually communicate zero tolerance for this kind of behavior.
You know, there's a role also for platforms but there's a role for participants, how we observe this kind of behavior and we must absolutely have responsibility.
The same way that seatbelt campaigns focused on children. So when you get in your car, your kids tell you, mommy, put on your seatbelt. We need that same kind of approach, where it's a whole of society approach from law ‑‑ from government officials, to citizens to also a unique role for private sector which I'm sure Kat will touch on.
I will leave it at this point and pass it on to Kat.
>> KAT TOWNSEND: Thank you so much, Onica. Thank you, Honorable Neema, thank you, Irene, and Moira for leading this discussion and thank you all for joining today. It's just an honor to be here on this panel.
So my name is Kat Townsend, I'm currently leading a policy team at the worldwide Web Foundation. So I can speak a bit about the partnerships that we have gotten involved in, but I just want to take a step back of why and what the purpose is from the perspective of the Web Foundation. In this room, it may seem obvious that we have to work for gender equity in all public spaces. Those public spaces include online.
I think the philosophy of the Web Foundation is that the web is supposed to be an open, safe, trusted and empowering space for everyone. A place where anybody around the world can come, collaborate, share their creativity and share their ideas. And when you have over 50% of the world getting attacked and harassed online, then it doesn't live up to that vision. It's not a place where people feel free to convene. We don't have a ton of data about how prevalent the problem is and how severe it is. One study from 2019, run by Google Jigsaw team in collaboration with the Economist said that 80% of the respondents who identified as women said that they either personally experience or witnessed harassment online.
So this speaks to this enabling environment that Onica was mentioning, the presence, the demonstration that Honorable Neema was mentioning, that young ‑‑ young girls and young boys, people of all shapes and sizes look at the web and say, that's not a place that's safe. That's not a place where we can express ourselves or that's a place that is providing comfort to those who would harm other people. So that is the interest that we have is how do you make it a better and open space.
So we have been working with the tech companies, as others have too, with ‑‑ we ran 120 organization multistakeholder workshop series with companies and said what can we do? How can we fix this? We got meta, Google, Twitter and TikTok who said, we will change our curation and we will change our reporting and we will give you transparency on what we did. After a year, as we have been following one of them, they said, look at all ever these great changes that they made. And they did make some changes to the creation and the reporting and those of you who use those tools every day, you might see that you have a better ability to block. You have a better ability to report.
But what they didn't do is show us any data. So it looks better, but we don't know if they have actually changed anything. Because they won't tell us how many people are being harassed, how often is it happening and severe is the harassment and there was a quote from Muresa, she says if you don't have facts, you don't have truths. And if you don't have truth, you can't have trust. And if we don't have a trusted web, if we don't have a trusted Internet, then people won't express themselves, they won't gather online and that's really the world we are trying to work for.
So what do we do? So at the moment, we are working with a wide group of civil society organizations around the world and with the tech companies to map out what are the government policies, what data is available, and what products are there that are used to prevent and to respond to online harassment. So we are trying to get a better sense of what does work in this space? How can we give recommendations to governments and recommendations to tech companies to civil society on here are good practices, here's how they work in different contexts.
And I will just say that, you know, one of the big gaps that we see is all of the data that's collected is on people who are survivors. Have you been attacked? What is your experience? It's on you to report it. There's no information about what we call ‑‑ or what is currently called predators. Nobody is asking how often have you attacked someone online? What you did you say to them? How did you ‑‑ what did you do?
And so we're not really thinking about the enabling environment. And that's something that we would like to fix, because you may not know if you are ‑‑ if you are attacking. It may be that when you repost a video, you think well, it's already out there. So I'm not causing harm by adding to it, but you are. Now, some people do know that they are predators, like those who attacked our session on Monday, Future Feminine Web. We had a Zoom bombing with violent videos and with pornographic videos. Even today it happened.
So the IGF has apologized to us after a few engaged to ask them, but it's still happening. So these spaces are attacked, and they reignite more traumas as that happens. And so going forward, what we are working on. Again, to get these good practices to be able to share out. And as Moira said, we are looking with UN, the Commission On the Status of Women is in March, their focus is on technology. How do we infuse the work we have here with UN Women so they take an earned power with a greater leadership role.
The Global Digital Compact, the consultations for those will close out at the end of. What is the gender presence in those consultations? How can we work with UN tech envoy to drive a process that is transparent and accountable and that comes with recommendations that we can follow on, that we can track.
And then there's also the summit for democracy, and what's ‑‑ what I will leave with you is just this is not a gender issue. This is not siloed to a portion of society. The tools that are used to attack women and to attack minoritized genders they are used to disrupt elections and they are used to cause greater chaos in society. And so the reason we focus on this is because it really does affect us all. Thank you.
>> MOIRA WHELAN: Thank you very much for that, and thank you to all of our panelists. I'm looking at our time and I want to make sure that we do have time and space for ‑‑ for a vibrant discussion.
So we do have some questions online, but I think if it's okay with you all, I just want to open it up and see if we can collect one or two questions from the room, and then ‑‑ and then we'll go to online.
Let's see, I think we are waiting for a microphone to find its way here.
And when you ask your question, go held and identify yourself and ask your question. We'll do here and then we'll go over here.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hello, everyone, it's very vibrating, you know, and sharing from everyone. My name is Rumgifa and I'm in Bangladesh and all of these aspects that has been coming out from you is very common, and we are ‑‑ we have been working addressing those issues wherever we are getting opportunities.
One issue I want to mention is about enabling environment and inclusivity. For inclusivity, it's not only about like women, women, it's about are you ‑‑ rather they say, intersectional gender approach, if we could incorporate, that will give us a better picture, a wider picture where we are living in.
For example, in Bangladesh, we have this panel called Treos77 that takes the citizen right from the sexually diversified people, and they cannot claim citizen right expressing their identity, like I, myself, belong to ‑‑ I'm not a man. I'm not a woman. I belong to this category of sexual identification. So this is what she was saying, like, self‑censorship. We do self‑censorship being human rights activists, yes. We do self‑censorship when we go for movement, whether it's a silent movement or already a dominant movement. We go for self‑censorship.
So if ‑‑ it came out from different panelists, unless we do address it, we cannot hear it. And if we cannot hear it, we cannot work on it. So it's very important that if we can enable the environment, yes, if we could create the environment where very detail to detail problems come out or the experiences come out, that might be another ‑‑ it's not an opportunity. That will give us the weapon to work with, to deal, with to solve with, and we are ‑‑ Madam parliament member, from Tanzania, what she said, like, online abuse and people stay offline when they become someone very vocal or active. It is ‑‑ it doesn't ‑‑ it doesn't happen only for the politicians. It happens everywhere. Even if the professional sector when the women start working, because the women need to give the evidence that they are better than men, they are better than any man and many men. And it gives the vulnerability when people attacks on sexuality.
When the women are growing up. So this thing, actually who Onica was saying, that it leaves ‑‑ it does exist in the actual life that impacts the virtual life. I can't finish it in a minute but glad to share what I wanted to share.
>> MOIRA WHELAN: Thank you. And I think we are going to go back here first. We are going to go here. While you are getting ready, I will say that there is a vibrant discussion ‑‑ well, there is a discussion going on in the online space, but it does get to and one of our online participants will know about the gender gaps and exacerbating what exists. So that did come up online as well, but, please.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hi, everyone, my name is Mansah, and I'm a researcher. I wanted to highlight an important point that that needs to be clarified in such discussions that the issue is gender‑based violence or abuse, is not polarized, it's not women against men. It's in general people who are for human rights, for women's rights, no matter what their gender, no matter if they are women or men, because sometimes women themselves tend to exert gender‑based violence. Sometimes I see activists or women or parliamentarians sharing a post and then women commenting on that post with gender violence, gender‑based violence comments, saying that you should maybe take better care of your kids or family or husband. You should do this or that. So it's not we should ‑‑ we ‑‑ it's not a polarized thing, men against women. It's more about, like, who is for human rights and women's rights. I just wanted to share this point. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. It's really inspiring to see such amazing women sharing their experiences and trying to fight for justice. Thank you.
>> MOIRA WHELAN: Thank you. I'm going to let our panel respond to those first. And then we'll come right back to these two questions in the room.
>> NEEMA LUGANGIRA: Thank you. I know being mindful of time very quickly. When I'm talking about women in politics, the online abuse of women in politics, I'm in no way diluting the abuse of other people online. We are not considered a marginalizes group. This is a fact. When anyone is thinking about online abuse of women, no one, would it click that, oh, and women in politics are part of that, because of the nature of our work and the nature of the power that we supposedly have. And it is for that reason I decided I'm going to use the experience, my personal experience to speak on behalf of all women parliamentarians and all women in politics. And through that, bring you guys along to recognize that women in politics is also a critical group because a lot of things you are saying to fix them, we need legislation. Who creates legislation? It's legislators.
So you need your women in politics to be your allies. So that's number one.
Number two, the other issue very quickly that I'm trying to champion in Tanzania is to also get the issue of online abuse to be recognized in political ‑‑ in the ‑‑ in political parties act and election act. Because during election, there's certain types of GBVs that have on been accepted, you can report on them, but not online abuse. So that is the other thing that we are trying to do on the side of the legislation. And, again, as you will speak for your own groups, I'm also speaking for my own group, women in politics. Thank you.
>> ONICA MAKWAKWA: Yes, so let me quickly also just touch on that. I think it's important for us to understand that part of why all of this is happening is that we still live in very patriarchal societies and that's created the call for us to sit here and specifically talk about women and girls. If women and girls had equal opportunities, we wouldn't even be having these kind of forums, right?
So whether it's men who are abusing online or women who are abusing online, at the root of all of that is patriarchy and we have to be committed to dismantling the patriarchy in order no understand that.
So my standard question ‑‑ my standard question when people ask about what about the boy child? I don't speak on this, because he still has patriarchy. Help me dismantle the patriarchy and then we can talk about the boy child and how his masculinity can be different in an equal world. Thank you.
>> MOIRA WHELAN: Any other ‑‑ I would also just add one thing to that which is there's structural and engineering aspects of things that we're trying to fundamentally change. So one of the things that NDI has prioritized this issue for is because if we can get the right AI, if we can get the right reporting structures in place for 50% of the global population, that's going to benefit all people, all parties, all marginalized groups, all intersectional identities. And what we're still struggling with, right, we start with the 50% because even in the most marginalized communities, there's a woman who is the most marginalized of the marginalized communities.
And so we do take an approach that it is inclusive in identifying our interventions and it is intersexual. It's both the fundamental challenge and I want to go here first these two questions and then yeah, I want to leave a little bit of space for our online participants.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hello, firstly, thank you to are your speech. I feel very empowered, thanks to your speech. I come from Turkiye and we are actually feminist technologies that started as women digital data platform, and so my question is firstly to you, that what does your party say and do you get support from your allies in your own country or your male party members when you face such abuse? And what do you think you can do to change and get support from that aspect?
And secondly for Worldwide Web Foundation, I want to on a separate topic, the type of work that we do at Turkiye Internet Observance, we extract data for those issues. Just by looking at the Google Search volume that Turkiye, my husband loves me so much, he doesn't love me to go to the doctor, and we were able to generate data in Turkiye that indicates that emotional violence happens and what cities and what time, and I would love to get at touch to you how we can use our Big Tech to generate data where it's missing and thank you so much for the empowering speech.
>> MOIRA WHELAN: We will go right here.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thank you very much. My name is Katherine Adair, outgoing director of research at the Worldwide Web Foundation. I would like to wear another hat having been the wife of a politician, and also the family full of politicians. So what she's talking about, I know in reality. And I will give an example, within the last elections, I had to help my auntie manage her Facebook and Twitter because the way she was trolled, she wanted to give up. Part of what with came up was now a mess. So what I'm seeing here could be a discussion that we could even have for half a day. And actually, understand and unpack some of the issues and what I want to unpack is the experience we had in the Web Foundation, what Kat has not told you is the kind of data we have. Even from politicians, journalists and all that.
Mining that data which is evidence‑based, would amaze you. And the concern I found from the research is especially when we are being pushed to lump the research findings of women and girls under the generic gender. In the last two years, I have come to appreciate a lot of how a lot of things on women and girls then gets lost. But I will just give two other things. Again, evidence‑based. And this ‑‑ the painful thing what you have seen is when victims of hate speech ‑‑ and I think somebody has commented on that, have to take action to report on the abusive comments and compel ‑‑ it is them again to compel the perpetrators to take responsibility and we think about posting the abusive remarks.
In that we then discuss with the tech companies. Then I will just give one challenge they say they have and that is language. They say language is a barrier in identifying hate speech and harassment in all linguistic diversity and some of them say they don't have the capable AI tools to detect. My challenge ‑‑ and if we could have space to what is impossible. That's why I agree that the UN could actually do a lot more. I found the UN is part of ‑‑ I'm sorry to say. The people are diluting some of these issues, trying to bring the impossible because of what people are saying.
Let me leave it there and finally the legislation part, arguments on legislation, versus freedom of speech, these things can be dealt with because they are trying to hard this is so hard to legislate because of freedom of speech. Nothing is impossible. We have the data. We have the evidence. Thank you.
>> MOIRA WHELAN: Thank you for that. I'm going to ‑‑
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: It's not a question, but it's a comment based on evidence.
>> MOIRA WHELAN: Also as our panelists respond, there's a question online coming from Bangladesh about the differences between threat, vulnerability and risk, right? So there is another aspect that as we begin to parse out these experiences, even here and also when we empower women. Are we catching it before it happens? Are we preventing, prebudding it or empowering, such as in this experience, we are the user and the power to do it, went we are running the panel at the same time we are combatting harm online.
So we will leave it there. I will leave it ‑‑ give our panelists a chance to respond to these questions and then I will ask my colleague Sandra to sum us up.
>> NEEMA LUGANGIRA: Thank you. Very, very quickly, you asked a very good question about party, internal party politics and what happens is sometimes the abuse of women in politics get is also party related, and it can be opposing parties, but it can also be within the party. And when it is within the party, it is when the male ‑‑ your male colleague feels threatened that in the next election, you will probably go for his seat. So that is how it works.
And to curb that, it needs to be included in the legislation. And the only legislation relevant for that is the political parties legislation and the election legislation. So one of the things I have managed so far to push, and it's already work in progress is to make sure that every political party has agenda desk, and has a gender policy. And such things will enable for the issue of complaints to be treated in a different way.
I would like to conclude also by stating that oftentimes these discussions happen with the exclusion of us as parliamentarians. It's important for these discussions to happen with us being there because at the end. Day, one, we can share credible experiences. Anybody else would speak of experiences based on paper. But we can share experiences based on reality. So you may come up even with interventions, but we can easily tell that you this intervention will not work, because we are living it.
Similarly, as my colleague over there said, so it's important to put us in those discussions. And as far as the African context is concerned, the African parliamentarian on Internet Governance is here and willing to work with all of you and this is one of the items top of our agenda. My concluding remark is join me in elevating the need for the UN to prioritize online violence on women. It needs to be recognized as one of the GBVs. Thank you.
>> KAT TOWNSEND: That's a fantastic call to action and I am very happy to be working towards that. I just wanted to share a quick data points on this. Anybody is welcome to approach. Please, we would love to have your data. It helps us push back against this perception that this is not as widespread a problem as it is.
Honorable Neema, correct, once you get in public light, you get attacked more. What we don't know is what that does to anybody who says should I go online? Should I be in a leadership? And how much it's silencing voices. And it happens around the world. So in Chile, for 75% of the messages that are delivered on Twitter to female parliamentarians are harassing or abusive. So every time they go on Twitter, they are getting pummels with hate speech.
In Swedish parliamentarians 41% of the women are getting doctored sexualized images of themselves sent to them. Our ‑‑ another former director of research of the Web Foundation, who now works at the Center for Democracy and Technology, came out with a report two weeks on the prevalence of violence again women politicians and specifically Black women in the United States. They are far more targeted, unsurprisingly than any other politician. So don't ‑‑ keep an eye on the Web Foundation alumni, former directors of research, people who have gone on to start new partnerships, it's a formidable group.
You know, it's just to say that this is not unique to a certain space. This is not one person's problems or another, it's prevalent everywhere and it's getting worse, unless we really understand how big of a problem this is, how to prioritize it and get into all of these spaces of Internet Governance. Thank you.
>> ONICA MAKWAKWA: I think the only thing I would like to add, in addition to that call, we need to have an accountability framework, because I can think of all the kinds of conventions and treaties that the UN and our countries have signed on to, all the way back to pay equity that we still don't have, and that this is really an issue of life and death for quite a number of people. In addition to that call for prioritizing this issue, it needs to also have an accountability framework because just like we have had a Me Too movement, there's also been a UN Too movement.
So you know, it's ‑‑ it's important from the highest body to communicate all the way down that there is still a tolerance to this kind of behavior.
>> IRENE MWENDWA: Well, also to address some of the comments and questions. If the platforms are not directly working and giving us the data to inform some of the actions against violence on women politicians, especially, some of the recommendations we have also asked them as policy and other civil society actors is, you need to provide psychosocial support to the women politicians after the elections or during the election period.
The data is very, very clear. The evidence is very, very clear. There's a difference between a man politician engaging online and a woman politician engaging online. We don't need to debate. We don't need to say it's about equality, it's about ‑‑ we just want ‑‑ it's very clear that women are abused hugely and they need additional support. And therefore, we have been also trying to tell meta, for instance, are you able to provide additional support beyond the mechanisms that you have online, because if a woman politician is abused and she has to report, that's revictimization. And revictimization adds on to the hurt that she's experiencing.
I would like to close us out, because our session time is over. We have our online moderator who is joining us to close this panel off. Please follow us online, and engage with our work to see what you are putting up, because we are putting evidence ‑‑ evidence, evidence, evidence‑based research on what women politicians are going through online.
So Sandra, I would like to welcome you.
Have we been able to connect her.
>> SANDRA PEPERA: I think I'm here. Can you hear me all right? So thank you to our wonderful speakers and to, you know, the Honorable Lugangira, thank you for being so honest in your voice and sharing your experience. We have been running Not the Cost Campaign since 2016, one of our original members of the coalition was from Tanzania. She was the coordinator for the extortion coalition. So we have always had strong Tanzanian voices in our fight. And we are so happy that you are taking up this issue.
Onica, Irene, and Kat, and Moira, my thanks to you too for bringing your expertise and understanding to this forum. I'm so sorry not to have been with you, but I was in London at the conference headed by the UK government on preventing sexual violence in conflict initiative, and, of course, we know that all women who stand up for peace and resilience are attacked online, and the online space is also used to attack them and their communities when they are seen as opponents.
One the things that Moira and I are both proud and privileged to be a part of is this growing network of technology ‑‑ technologically expert women who are advocates and politicians and activists to fight to change this issue. We are determined to have a safer and more open and inclusive Internet.
That is the way to provide the space for the creativity, voice and agency of women and girls to be channeled into those spaces where the answers to our global challenges begin to flourish and get resolved.
Misogyny and hate online is a solvable problem and we invite you all to join all of us in doing so. Thank you and all the best for the rest of the IGF.
>> MOIRA WHELAN: And I think just a last mention that the best practices forum on gender is this afternoon. So we look forward to seeing you all there to identify some real paths forward.