Human rights, gender & youth

13 Nov 2018 16:30h - 17:45h

Event report

[Read more session reports and live updates from the 13th Internet Governance Forum]

Talks about human rights have occured within all Internet governance policy spaces for over a decade. However, the same challenges persist and with technology development new challenges arise. If we want to see real inclusion as a norm, we need to focus on specific needs and challenges of marginalised groups, youth, children, people with disabilities, women, and their intersections.

The workshop was moderated by Mr Claudio Lucena, Professor, Law Faculty at Paraíba State University (UEPB).

Ms Madeline McSherry, Secretariat, High Level Panel on Digital Cooperation, outlined three messages that have emerged from public consultations: 

  • The importance of focusing on human rights, while attending to human agency. This means talking about access, but also thinking about agency; 
  • A clear avoidance of ‘tech solutionism’, ensuring ‘we talk about how we can leverage tech for good’;  
  • A return to analog structures for the protection of human rights.

Mr John Carrr, Researcher on Child Online Abuse, ECPA International, highlighted both ‘the most horrible things that can happen to children anywhere on or off the Internet’ and positive possibilities that technology can offer to children, in particular children in underrepresented and marginal groups. The Internet is the only way children can access information about their rights, assert those rights, gain information about health, etc. He stressed that while ‘everybody said Net Mundial was the best expression of Internet governance principles to have emerged from human endeavour,’ no mention was made of a child in the Net Mundial statement, because no children’s organizations were present in the room, and ‘others came with their own agendas.’

Ms Marianne Franklin, Educator, Giganet, noted that noticeable transformations are occurring in the higher education sector, in high schools, in primary schools, and in kindergartens, as a result of a ‘technology push’, which means both marketing and selling tools and platforms to ‘a generation that is used to going online as a matter of course.’ She also noted the right to education on and about the Internet, as well as the right to culture and access to knowledge, which is currently often based online. Finally, she sent the message to all: ‘Let people make their own minds up, whether they’re three, whether they’re thirteen, whether they’re twenty-tree, or ninety-three.’ 

Ms Minda Moreira, Dynamic Coalition on Internet Rights and Principles, welcomed the presence of human rights, gender, and youth topics at the main session at the IGF. All of these are important issues that have been discussed within the IGF community over the last decade. Moreira said that a safe and protected environment needs to ‘go hand in hand with empowerment.’ Empowering young people is an important focus. The right to access information needs to be fully enabled, as well as the right to voice to share ideas in an online environment free from hate speech, bullying, and disproportionate data collection.  

Ms Lilian Nalwoga, gender activist, spoke about the importance of bringing more women online. She wondered how to get more women into policy discussions. She stressed that a lot of gender-based violence online has not been appropriately addressed. She highlighted a good practice example of ‘Wiki Loves Women’ activity in March 2018, which aimed to profile successful and prominent women. It is important to find strategies to bring more women online, not just to engage in policies, but as a practical step to ensuring safe and meaningful participation.  

Ms Viviane Vinagre, Gender activist, spoke about the North America Summit, a forum like an IGF, which is multistakeholder system and which debates about the inclusion of women and girls into science, research, technological areas, and the Internet. The Summit provides lecturers in schools who teach women about human rights ‘so they know what they can fight for.’ The topics include cyberbullying, hate speech, freedom of expression, and other subjects important for the community. She noted that it was a surprise to see the lack of information, principally in Brazil, especially in certain places where ‘they have no idea of how important the Internet is.’ 

Nidhi Goyal, Activist for Young Women with Disabilities, reported that in the Millennium Development Goals disability was not mentioned, while in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), disability has been specifically mentioned in goal 5. She thinks that while SDGs aim to ‘leave no one behind’, specific inclusions are still important in addressing rights of marginalized groups. Sensitivity in shared principles is important if we want to see gender, youth, and intersections included. ‘Inclusion has to become the norm,’ Goyal concluded. 

Ms Olga Cavalli, Senior Advisor, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Argentina, said that with the Internet, society has gained new voices, different ways of expressing ideas, and new revolutions that can happen only through social networks. With the Internet came freedom to communicate, freedom to learn, freedom to speak, as well as access to information that did not exist before. However, she stated that ‘from declaration to action’ is a long journey.  


By Aida Mahmutovic