Gender Peripheries of Internet Governance Forum 2010

The fifth Internet Governance Forum (IGF) which took place from 14-17 September 2010 in Vilnius, Lithuania is over. Have we got any closer to strengthening the role of the internet in defending and realising women's rights and sexual rights? What experiences and gains have women rights advocates brought back home from this forum? How do they feel about the debates and the outcomes of the IGF? Did they succeed in illustrating that gender and sexual rights perspectives can bring innovative solutions to key internet governance themes? "The passion to express feelings, reflections, assessments and analysis is evident in the numerous blog posts and the largest 'hash-tag' twitter cloud for the IGF", states Karen Banks, a longstanding gender and ICT advocate and our guest editor for this edition. But there is still a long way to go, and we can only hope the renewed energy of women's and sexual rights advocates and their commitment to the internet governance debates will sustain till the next IGF in Kenya – the signs from the IGF itself are very promising.


Katerina, Flavia and Sonia from the GenderIT.org team


Image: Some rights reserved by Franck K

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GenderIT.org's team @ Internet Governance Forum 2010, Vilnius

What is the role of the internet in defending and realising women's rights and sexual rights? What are our positions as women's rights and sexual rights advocates on how the internet should be governed? From 14-17 September, the GenderIT.org team had been assisting at the Fifth Internet Governance Forum in Vilnius, Lithuania. The GenderIT Feminist Talk contributors and tweeters at the fifth IGF are Jac sm Kee (Malaysia), Jan Moolman (South Africa), Katerina Fialova (Czech Republic) and Analía Lavin (Uruguay) - from GenderIT.org and APC communications teams - and Maya Ganesh (India), Francoise Mukuku (DRC, Si Jeunesse Savait), Marina Maria (Brazil, Sexuality Policy Watch), “Nyx” (South Africa), "T. Q." (Lebanon) and Nighat Dad (Bytes For All, Pakistan) - from APC WNSP's partners on the EroTICS Research Project and MDG3:Take back the tech! project. Join the debate!
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Latin America in the run-up to the IGF: global and regional synergy

The Association for Progressive Communications (APC), NUPEF and the Registry of Internet Domain Names for Latin America and the Caribbean sponsored the Third Regional Preparatory Meeting for the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), held in Ecuador in early August 2010. How might this regional meeting and the IGF impact each other? What recommendations and concerns emerged from the regional process? To what extent were gender issues represented at the Latin American meeting? Valeria Betancourt, Latin America policy coordinator for APC and Dafne Plou, regional coordinator of APC's Women's Network Support Programme (APC WNSP) in Latin America, have some answers.
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Sexual rights, openness and regulatory systems

The summary of the 'Sexual rights, openness and regulatory systems' workshop co-organized by APC WNSP, Centre for Internet and Society and Alternative Law Forum at the Internet Governance Forum(IGF) in Vilnius, Lithuania on September 14 2010. T.Q. from the Lebanon EroTICs team speaks about the history of the local queer movement which correlates with the development of the internet in Lebanon. Clarissa Smith, a UK-based researcher representing the Onscenity network, examines sexuality, porn and the internet from the users point of view. Joy Liddicoat, a New Zealand Human Rights commissioner, shares her experiences and views on developing regulatory systems that recognize and realize the rights of sexual and gender minorities.
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Internet Governance Issues on Sexuality and Women's Rights

The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) has been a challenging space for both women's rights advocates and for broader constituencies engaged in advocacy for gender equality and sexuality related rights. In the fifth and final year of its mandate, women's rights are still being dwarfed as a critical issue to be debated in this arena, while sexuality issues, although present, are not seen as a matter of rights. In preparation for this year's IGF, this briefing document highlights key issues on internet regulation that are relevant for gender equality and sexuality. It also brings to the debate findings from various research initiatives undertaken by APC and key partners, including a cross-country research initiative - EROTICS - that is being conducted in five countries: Brazil, India, Lebanon, South Africa and the United States.
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Fatimata Seye Sylla: Not to have others speaking for us (video)

Fatimata Seye Sylla is a key figure in the Senegalese internet community. She worked for ten years within the Senegalese government, and for nine years in the private sector. She conducted the first national project to introduce ICT in the educational system. Fatimata shares with GenderIT.org why she came to Vilnius and what the IGF means to her personally and to women's rights.
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Nurani Nimpuno: "it's been an increase of women participating" (audio)

Marina Maria from the APC's EroTICs team chats with Nurani Nimpuno, the IGF's MAG (the Multistakeholder Advisory Group) member from Sweden about the effort to improve gender balance at the Internet Governance Forum.
The MAG purpose is to assist the Secretary General in convening the Internet Governance Forums. The MAG comprises of 56 Members from governments, the private sector and civil society, including representatives from the academic and technical communities.
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The future of privacy: an internet governance issue

Will 'privacy' in ten years be different from what we know today? Many laws need to be reviewed in light of what we know about the internet. But also, two new rights emerged that were completely new to Francoise Mukuku. They incorporate the new dimensions that the internet adds to our lives: the right to accountability and the right to privacy from design. Users should be able to say: I may make these data available on the net today, but tomorrow, I do not want them to be visible, I shared with my consent then, but now, I do not want it visible anymore.
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Close Encounters

This is the third time Maya is attending the Internet Governance Forum and she has never really expected anything too extraordinary to happen here. She finds her expectations challenged when she meets with two representatives of the ICM Registry and IFFOR (the International Foundation for Online Responsibility) at a session on Sexual Rightsi, Openness and Regulatory Systems - who are interested in the work of the EroTICS team.
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Reflecting on language and power

Looks at how power is played out in the language and terminology used in the IGF discussions, even when the theme of the discussion is "Internet governance and human rights: strategies and collaboration for empowerment".
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“The youth are good for nothing”: session on social exclusion

Nyx attended a session on social exclusion, where the portrayal of youth by a Kenyan MP, and his ignorance of what was going on even in the conference around him, caused her to reflect on youth and their engagement in governance processes.
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Why we should get over facebook

Social networking sites and privacy formed the main topics in two sessions Maya attended - but she found that the discussions were not grounded in research, that users were absent from the debates and tired assumptions dominated the rooms. What's needed, she argues, are more workable proposals that take into account a variety of research and based on how people actually use social networking sites - not how it's assumed they use them.
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Why I took a long flight to Vilnius

Francoise examines the role that mass media play as the fourth estate or power in the world, and looks at how convergence and large media companies are threatening the positive achievements of the internet in helping to create diversity, freedom of expression and greater focus on human rights reporting.
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First-time impressions of IGF10

"As one door closes, another opens", they say sometimes. This is the first IGF I have attended... and yet if the initial plan is to be kept, it may be the last occurrence of this international gathering. Nighat explores why she thinks that if that's how it turns out, it will be a shame.
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dot gay: what are the implications?

It was in a dynamic coalition session on freedom of expression and freedom of the media on the internet that Schubert announced that the domain name, “dot gay” was in the pipeline. The domain name hopes to incorporate all lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex and queer sites under one domain. Nyx looks at who is excluded, and the potential impact of a 'dot gay' domain on queer communities.
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Africa and internet governance: going global or stay local?

The impact of internet governance on Africa was discussed on September 16th 2010, in Vilnius, Lithuania. There was fair representation of all stakeholders. Officials from South Africa, Kenya and Tunisia were there; a representative from an internet service provider; and various Africa bodies that follow the process, such as AFRINIC, ISOC Africa and CICEWA. And there were representatives from civil society - those dealing with ICT and internet, delegates from consumer’s organizations, academics from African universities, gender activists and ICT consultants as well as community based organizations.
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Lebanon: Queering the internet

Lebanon EroTICs team report-back to the local Meem group (www.meemgroup.org) about the IGF. She reflects on strategy and queer history on the Internet: "Last week, I went to Vilnius, Lithuania to represent the Lebanon team of the Association for Progressive Communications (APC)’s Exploratory Research Project into Sexuality and the Internet (EroTICs) at the UN Internet Governance Forum. Yes, it’s a bit weird to see “erotics” and the UN in the same sentence. Brandishing a red badge that said “http://erotics” as we navigated the conference’s corridors of power was indeed a strange and awkward experience that many of us ErOtics-izers, I think, have not yet grasped..."
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Is Pakistan putting the UN Millennium Goals at risk?

"The discussions I witnessed at IGF 2010 really brought home to me the scale of the challenges we still face, if we are to make meaningful progress towards the goals of the IGF in general, and MDG3 in particular." Nighat Dad from the Pakistan MDG3: Take Back the Tech! project assesses the outcomes of IGF and the Millenium Development Goals in the context of national debates and women’s rights.