Digital Divides & Inclusion
Digital, Media, and Information Literacy
Uffa Modey, Digital Grassroots, Technical Community, Africa Esther Mwema, Digital Grassroots, Civil Society, Africa Hanna Pishchyk, Digital Grassroots, Civil Society, Europe
Pavel Farhan, Internet Education and Research Laboratory, Academia, Asia Rachad Sanoussi, Digital Grassroots, Technical Community, Africa
Targets: Digital Grassroots works with young people between 16 and 29 years old to provide quality digital rights eduction to support their digital inclusion. We focus on marginalized youth who do not have clear pathways to engage in internet governance, so our communities are the ones underrepresented in the digital ecosystem at different levels. We make our program accessible to persons from all walks of life - our program participants have ranged from a nursing mother, a political activist being persecuted by their government, a full-time student wanting to switch to a career in tech, and a gender diverse person who needs a safe space to express themselves. All real examples. Our community is a safe space, and we ensure to remove barriers to entry for those who do not think they can participate as shapers in the digital ecosystem. Anyone can be an equal contributor, whether as a newcomer, a seasoned veteran or somewhere in-between - this is what makes it an inclusive and intersectional grassroots movement. The soul of Digital Grassroots is to create systemic change by building our own systems and equipping the most marginalized with the tools to shape this open, equal, and safe digital future.
Digital Grassroots Impact Report is aimed at showcasing an increase in digital citizenship among youth from underrepresented communities globally. Through open leadership, community engagement programs and mentorships, we have promoted youth activism in shaping the Internet ecosystem by providing digital inclusion pathways for marginalized, at-risk and unemployed youth in a decentralized way. Digital Grassroots is a youth and female-led non-profit working to shift the power to youth who have been disenfranchised and face obstacles to participate in the digital ecosystem. There is a disconnect between the policies and agenda set at a high level, and the reality at the grassroots level. Digital Grassroots recognizes the lost potential of underrepresented youth to shape their own digital future because they are not offered opportunities in the industry or pathways to learn, experiment and network fully as digital rights activists. This recreates a cycle of dependency, unemployment, and top-down undemocratic societies. This session will spotlight our core organisiational achievements highlighted within the impact report in relation to the following: Digital rights and internet governace literacy programs that include trainings to grassroots youth leaders on internet governance, internet health, and internet advocacy. We then match participants with mentors who support them in doing community engagement projects. We have successfully run over 8 programs since 2018. Digital rights advocacy at a high level, like at the UN, RightsCon, and Mozilla; and activism at the grassroots communities on issues like freedom of speech, internet shutdowns, and accessibility. Our youth network spans over 200 youth in 60 countries who started to engage in the digital ecosystem through our work. We are intersectional in our work and offer a safe space for activists, scholars, and internet enthusiasts. In this session we will also recognise some of our community members who have over the years showcase excellence, leadership and dedication to building a safer and healthy internet ecosystem in their communities. The global internet space is shaped by colonial ideas and concepts from the global north; with global majority countries left to fix and play catch up. Therefore global public internet related events such as the IGF creates a unique platform to spotlight and promote the inclusion of youth from underrepresented communities by amplifying their digital rights activism efforts on a global stage. Digital Grassroots Impact Report details our strategy for engaging youth in internet governance through our two flagship programs called the Digital Grasssroots Ambassadors program (5 cohorts) and the Community Leaders program (3 programs); and a collaboration with the Open Internet for Democracy to run the Digital Rights Learning Exchange program. These programs have reached 230 youth in 60 countries and included digital literacy training and community engagement for advocacy. The impact of these free programs we offer has been tangible through the increased participation of youth in internet governance processes - for example, at least 20 Digital Grassroots program participants attended the global Internet Governance Forum in 2022 in their own capacity. The Impact report details the connection of grassroots communities to institutions that enhance their autonomy in digital citizenship, which led us to being selected by UN Women as the only youth leader in the Generation Equality Forum Action Coalition for Technology and Innovation for Gender Equality. Furthermore, we were invited to be part of the Feminist Accountability Framework to evaluate the effectiveness of commitments made by key stakeholders to achieve gender equality. We have always brought in the expertise of our community members to participate in these processes; for example, a girl from rural Kenya was invited to be a keynote speaker at an event hosted by UNICEF and Finland at CSW67; a young LGBTQ activist was invited to participate at a high level SRHR conference; and we have made pathways for our youth leaders to join the Digital Grassroots team. We have also created services that respond to the digital needs of underserved communities, such as the Digital Rights Monopoly game co-created by community members, a communique on youth needs in internet governance spanning 16 countries, and a digital natives network community spanning across the globe and different cultures. We have accomplished this with no institutional funding. View some of our previous reports for digital rights and internet governance literacy programs 2022 DIGRA Annual report https://digitalgrassroots.org/blog/celebrating-another-year-of-growth-a… Digital Rights Learning Exchange (Cohort 2) - https://digitalgrassroots.org/blog/new-report-digital-rights-learning-e… DIGRA Ambassadors Program (Cohort 5) - http://digitalgrassroots.org/blog/read-the-report-digra-ambassadors-pro…
Interactions from onsite and online speakers will be facilitated by the onsite and online moderators respectively. Equal speaking opportunities will be made available to both online and onsite attendees. The onsite moderator will periodically check in with the online moderator to address any interactions raised by the online participants. Online participants are encouraged to contribute to the discussions using the online chat as well. We use share a QR code which attendees may use to access a soft copy of the Digital Grassroots Impact Report.