IGF 2023 Lightning Talk #121 "Marsad VAWP" showcase

Monday, 9th October, 2023 (23:30 UTC) - Tuesday, 10th October, 2023 (00:00 UTC)
SC – Room H

Human Rights & Freedoms
Non-discrimination in the Digital Space
Rights to Access and Information

Human Rights & Freedoms

Maharat Foundation
Roula Mikhael, Maharat Foundation, Civil Society Layal Bahnam, Maharat Foundation, Civil Society Habib Akiki, Journalist, Civil Society Mia Crochot, Maharat Foundation, Civil Society


Roula Mikhael, Maharat Foundation, Civil Society

Onsite Moderator

Layal Bahnam

Online Moderator

Habib Akiki


Mia Crochot



Targets: VAWP is defined as any act, or threat, of physical, sexual or psychological violence that hinders women from exercising and realizing their political rights as well as a wide array of human rights. Consequently, these discriminatory practices put a ravaging psychological pressure on women and deter their ability to participate in political life by disqualifying women’s political abilities and driving voters to abstain from giving them their votes. Accordingly the proposal aims at tackling the issue of women's active political participation and her ability to fully participate in online platforms while feeling safe and secure. Online expression for women especially in countries where women representation is very low such as Lebanon and MENA region is crucial in order to amplify voices demanding gender equality, in a region where media is captured and where laws are not in favor with women's rights.


Interview where the moderator will prepare questions for the speaker to showcase the best practices and to present the recommendations to the various stakeholders including decision makers, social media platforms and academia. The showcase will take 15 minutes then feedback will be gathered by the audience both onsite and online for additional input and questions.

Duration (minutes)

Women activists and women journalists in the MENA region are subject to online violence due to their activism and presence in the public sphere. Online platforms have been an opportunity to increase the visibility of women causes and voices online in the MENA region, a hostile environment for freedom of expression and women's rights, but at the same time it became a barrier towards their participation in the public life due to increased VAWP (violence against women in politics) online. Maharat is continuously documenting cases of VAWP in the MENA region through its Marsad VAWP (Arabic translation for Observatory). The findings of its studies included recommendations for decision makers as well as social media platforms. Among the recommendations were actions required from decision-makers to strengthen complaint mechanisms in the context of VAWP by involving various levels of judicial institutions, for social media platforms to adopt a contextual and cultural approach that ensures gender sensitivity in the context of content moderation. Moreover, recommendations for women candidates to share experiences related to VAWP through increased networking in order to build best practices that will contribute to countering gender-based violence against women and for civil society to empower women in politics in order to create a common agenda to fight VAWP as well as to continue monitoring and documenting cases of VAWP on media and social media. Maharat's work on this topic will be highlighted in this session to build on the best practices collected throughout the past 2 years in Lebanon and the MENA region. Relevant resources to be highlighted: Breaking the silence of VAWP: https://maharatfoundation.org/en/MeTooReport_VAWP ; MEDIA AND GENDER MONITORING OF THE 2022 ELECTIONS VAWP: https://maharatfoundation.org/en/marsadvawp_finalreport ; Maharat Magazine issue on challenges of women journalists in the MENA region: https://magazine.maharat-news.com/home?issue=10; Documenting Online hate campaign against LGBT: https://maharatfoundation.org/LGBTQ_Report; Marsad VAWP report (in context of municipal elections 2023): https://maharatfoundation.org/en/MarsadVAWP_March2023

After the interview with the speaker, an online intervention will be presented from an activist/ candidate to present her testimony on how she has been affected by VAWP and what can decision makers and social media platforms do to enhance safer platforms while keeping free flow of information and online freedom of expression. The online testimony will be for 5 minutes. The 10 remaining minutes will be divided between feedback/input/question from the audience onsite and online. Both moderators onsite and online will be gathering the inputs.