IGF 2022 Day 2 Lightning Talk #34 How to Strengthen Community Resilience Against Online Violence - RAW

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.



>> MODERATOR: All right. Presume we can start. I'm happy to begin the session now. I want to say good afternoon. Perhaps good morning or good evening to everyone who is joining depending where you are joining from. Welcome to lightning talk. Tackling how to strengthen community resilience against online violence. I'm joined by -- my name is Risper Akinyi. And I work for a community network that is based in Kenya. And I'm joined by Catherine Muya. I will let her introduce herself later on. So I present on a community network. And it's a local community network based in Kenya. Goal is to provide affordable internet access for, by and with the community. We aim to build digital Eco system in education, health, business and community-based organizations by enabling the group to leverage on affordable connectivity for social economic empowerment. We have three focus areas. That is community connectivity, digital inclusion and also we conduct national school of community networks. We do capacity building for emerging community networks as well as already existing community networks on how to start operating and sustain the community networks.

So in our efforts to connecting the unconnected, we are keen to ensure that everyone is included in these efforts hence our focus on number two which is digital inclusion. The network addresses this by focusing on provision of access to connectivity, building digital capacities. Digital platforms and also creating locally relevant content with the communities we serve. With the COVID-19 pandemic affected women especially those with economically and socially disadvantaged communities such as Kibela, where we operate. And implementation of partial lock downs added more responsibilities such as care giving, home schooling and economic burdens to mostly women. And additionally, report indicates that an increase in incidental violence against women, increase in the incidence of violence against women with COVID-19 especially during COVID-19 responses were largely online. Therefore, the women who were not able to connect could not access such information that was critical. And that also really informed our efforts with regards to how we engaged women in our community. So we identified groups of grass roots women human right defenders at the forefront of responding to gender-based violence in the community. And what we did was we had compositions with them around what they were doing, how they were mobilizing and defending now that they were not able to have or come together to strategize or mobilize how they were doing initially. So for the human right defenders, the pandemic really affected them. And promote challenges such as lack of access and internet. As well as the digital skills. And for some completely halted the intervention. Forced them to find alternative ways to defend human rights. So after having discussion and knowing what they are doing and values and some of the challenges they are facing at this time. We currated a training program and get them introduced to the online space. How can they mobilize. And just to go and see the different organizations and if we were to connect them, what would that look like in terms of infrastructure, how can we give them access?

And able to connect five defenders and also trade this specific group, human right defenders just on issues around digital literacy, digital safety, going going -- Online Gender-Based Violence. Have composition around the impact of Online Gender-Based Violence as well as also train them on anticensorship technologies. In nature we encourage them to talk about their experiences while defending women in the off line. And also see how then the country leaves intervention to translate in the online space and look at ways they can be able to train their communities on online violence. So that it's more of a training of trainers and the information is spread to the community. Part of the training was reimagining a safe and secure online space where women could share on the internet they would like to see. And this is a process that not only we had also also they had with the organizations they work with in the community. So all these efforts was to amplify the voices of this grass roots human rights defenders. While advocating against it. And grass root women working as human right defenders to exploit the digital space as a platform to advocate for their work. And increased reach and impact so the impact is not just seen at the community level but also that they can be able to mobilize efforts and also other efforts to just make sure their work is impactful. Also another thing we're working on is advancing knowledge building. So the human right defenders can currate content relevant to them. Especially around the work that they are doing with the community. We trained them on if they want to have compositions with the work they are doing, how can they currate audios that can be listened within the community?

Materials that can be relatable to young women and other community members. So just make sure that online violence is carved at the grass root level and championed by people working on these issues. So next I will welcome Catherine Muya to talk of her experience with article 19.

>> CATHERINE MUYA: Hi. Sorry. So I hope you can all hear me. My name is Catherine Muya. I'm joining you from Nyrobi. Work as program officer for digital rights in eastern Africa. Over the last year, I have developed recent turn around digital safety and security for organizations that work with instrument with support of one of our partners. In industry search, we weren't looking at how organizations that work with marginalized women and such as human rights defenders and LGBTQ community. How they work and how they conduct their digital security work. And while they are designing trainings, what are the challenges they encounter. They support the communities. Including the fact that we analyzed safety security concerns for women in the communities that they serve. And this included looking at what were the major digital security risks for LGBTQ persons in Kenya, human rights defenders. Some of those included surveillance, unauthorized interference. Majority of those things included online harassment. Since our focus is really just understand. Our focus was really to understand how the organizations were working with them and how they PRIRed they were. And what we found was a lot of work goes into training, providing digital security trainings for organizations. However, those digital security trainings are not very well structured. Very ad hoc. Not continuously supported and so it becomes one of a kind where participants feel like they haven't spent a lot of time to understand the issues. Also not really real cultural or organizational change. Might be or sustained organizational change mostly because they feel the training is offered only very limitedly. A lot of the participants trainings are concentrated in areas. Don't reach grass root organizations out of Nyrobi. A lot of the ways in which, there was a lot of knowledge gaps amongst the people and the organizations. The organizations themselves didn't seem to have policies in place for digital security and continuous digital security trainings for their staff. A lot of the ones for the staff, spoke to umbrella communities and how they support sex workers. And they also felt a lot of this training is not given in a sustainable way which would include targeting Stakeholders of the organization and then main streaming this sort of training into a trainer of trainer design which is something they do. Really just creating a sustainable way in which to engage in digital security training. And some of the subsets are given in digital security trainings are complicated for some of the participants. Would help if the trainings are structured or more frequent which is something we highlight a lot. The trainings need to be more frequent and regular in order to foster that sustained cultural change. Most of our work relied on looking at how resilient organizations. Some of the organizations also said don't have the capacity for it. In addition to not having policies. That makes it also very difficult in terms of knowing how to be very prepared in that sense. And especially because they deal with at-risk communities. So what the project recommended is there needs to be some sort of sustained banding and really seeing it as a problem and something that needs structural change. And a lot of effort to go into the design and the knowledge gap and the awareness to ensure that structural change is realized. So that's how much we went with our project. Thank you, Risper.

>> RISPER AKINYI: Yes. Thank you. I absolutely agree. For our community networks, you realize the scope is limited to the community for impact to be felt. And even the community, it's not an homogenous groups. So for us, for myself, I've kept on talking about grass roots human right defenders. Also the police that needs to get this knowledge. If the defenders are just defending all women who are experiencing online violence, then how does the police compliment that work. The recommendation is there is still more to be done. And a need to really have a structured content around online violence and some of the strategies the community can use. And something applicable so other communities don't have to go through the same process, go through the same struggles. Yet, it's something that has been done. With that, I'd like to open it up to the room if there's any question. Is there any question online?

>> CATHERINE MUYA: I didn't know if there was going to be a question. I was going to ask you a question. I was going to ask how do you design your interventions in your trainings?

What are the learnings and successes that work for you that you think are really important to mention even as we work with this different type of organizations?

>> RISPER AKINYI: Yeah. For us, number one is the element of need assessment using the human research design. The design approach. Just to engage the community even before designing any sort of training for them. Just to understand what are their values, strengths and challenges. The community network is providing access. Important to have a holistic view. As you are bringing online to the communities, they are able to understand the hands that comes with the online space and how they can protect themselves. So doing a need assessment with the community before engaging them especially on sensitive issues of online violence. Would a training of everyone both men and women giving solutions for the community with training of just women for that community. Or very specific training targeting different groups within women category. To also highlight the importance of creating movements, movement building is one of the key areas we strive to have because once we've created just as you've said, we don't want you to be a one-often gaugement like a training or connecting them and that's it. We want to have constant engagement. Technology is something that keeps on evolving. And even as evolves with the trends, the community we've connected, it's our responsibility to keep updating them on the positive things. The benefits they can reap and some of the dangers that keep coming up such as disinformation. How do we do that?

Through movement building. So creating like a cohort of the women we've trained and keep having conversations regularly with them. And by design. So I would respond with that.

>> CALEB OLUMUYIWA: I think it's really important. One of the things I wanted to point out --

>> CATHERINE MUYA: Also really in addition to having this digital security training. Also a really keen on knowing the legal framework around digital safety and security. Also wanted to really in depthly understand what are the remedies far offered. And I think when it comes to the issue of online violence and safety, the remedies to which people are like victims, those affected can really explore to get remedies or action is not very key. So I think it's something that we need to consider going forward. Even in our design. So I'm not sure if you have any questions from the floor.

>> RISPER AKINYI: Yes, we have one question.

>> Thank you. Not exactly a question. I would like to get clarification. You mentioned at some point you do some link with now the way -- the one-year trainings like tackling off line gender-based violence. I would like to know more about how you make the link between the off line and the online. Thank you.

>> RISPER AKINYI: Yes. To respond to that is always when you are bringing new concept to the community. Good to start from a basis very relatable to the community. For this specific community group, already working with on cases around human rights. How we connect the two is first identify the work they are doing. And then see how that would manifest in the online space. Look at the different manifestation of off line. The violence is on a continuum. The online violence can end up off line and vice versa. We try to have thinking brainstorm session where the participants are the ones telling us what are the things they are dealing with on ground and how it can manifest in the online space. And we then talk about the types of online violence as have been identified in different entry ports and then just see how they relate to that. Starting this conversation, people already experiencing online violence. Didn't know it's online violence. Being very intentional in realizing the nuances given we have these discussions and having a space where it's not like this room where I'm standing here. It's more of a discussion. More of peer to peer extension. Group walk within the participants. So just to drill in the concept some more. I don't know if there's any questions. We have two minutes left. I think we can have our closing remark unless there's a question. There are two questions. Okay.

>> Thank you. I wanted to ask if you can take -- to encourage persons with disabilities. What can we do to encourage them to participate in this conversations?

>> RISPER AKINYI: Thank you. Thank you. So, yes, persons with disability are also part of the marginalized groups. And for us, we have not had participant who is a person with disability. But I think more is to also engage even as we're inviting the leaders of these groups. Is to encourage them to bring everyone and anyone who can benefit in this kind of conversation and maybe have very specific trainings or conversation with a different grass root human right defenders so it's the whole organization being trained in the place feel comfortable at. And even to make the content that we are training very sensitive and inclusive in its manner. We are very much happy to work with any organization that is already dealing with persons with disability. So we're not replicating efforts. So we can also invite experts who are already dealing with persons with disability.

>> Thank you. My name is kasle. How do you classify active it as an online violence?

How do you classify activity as an online violence. How do you classify any active it as an online violence?

It depends from person-to-person to consider something is a violence. What I want to know is what are the standards you are following and considering this is an online violence and something not.

>> RISPER AKINYI: When we're having composition around online violence, we always route it with human rights. I think it's when you are violating someone else's human right, becomes online violence. And human right is like our bases of our definitions of online violence. And also understand online violence and freedom of speech. Also having composition of freedom of speech become online violence. I don't know if you have anything to add.

>> CATHERINE MUYA: Yeah. I was going to say that there is some actions already. So, like, for example, nonconsentual distribution. Would be ideally what would constitute harassment. It basically would then now be what constitute harassment. Mostly, have to fit in the pre-determined definitions of the types of violence in order for us to categorize them. I don't know if I'm making sense. What I seem to say is they are pre-determined definitions. Act that's constitute violence. If that specific act then falls within any of those pre-determined acts.

>> RISPER AKINYI: Absolutely. And room for really drilling down to what online violence is. I don't think these one definition per se. In this violence keeps on arising. For APC who have been part of our reference point. There are types of violence. As we see even the misuse act. Really has details on the ways violence can manifest. Really clarify and classify the online violence. So I don't know if there's anything. We are past our time. I would like to thank the participants in the room and for engaging. You can find us. We will share our details. Catherine Muya and myself, Risper Akinyi. If you want to have this conversation further. Overall, thank you online participant. Thank you anyone who has joined in the online space. I hope you'll have a good rest of the day. Thank you.