This year, International Women’s Day will focus on the empowerment of women, highlighting the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which was signed 20 years ago by 189 governments to establish an agenda for realizing women’s rights. The celebration of this historic milestone gives us a good reason to reflect on advances in women’s rights around the world, and to examine the Internet’s role in this effort.
To this end, drawing from our Community Grants archives, our global membership and other organizations, the Internet Society has assembled below a list of innovative and interesting ways that the Internet and technology are empowering women (and girls) far and wide. Some initiatives we found are global, while others are local, but all are worthy of recognition because they are empowering women in parts of the world where women’s rights are at risk.
These initiatives are breaking down barriers and building bridges that support greater education, better health, career advancement, and stronger community. They are fostering greater reach through local-language content that is sensitive to regional education levels and cultural conventions. They are creating new channels of opportunity, and using data to ensure that gender equality is a key beneficiary of technological advances.
1. The Amakomaya Project (Nepal)
The Amakomaya project (or Mother’s Love) was started to provide women in rural Nepali villages with life saving digital content in their own local language via the Internet. The program brings educational materials to pregnant women who would have no access to it otherwise, with information about pregnancy and pre-natal care to reduce the region’s high maternal mortality and neo-natal death rates. With the region’s high mobile penetration, the program has expanded with a mobile platform, and it also connects rural health workers with urban based hospital doctors. Find out more about Amakomaya or find them on Facebook and Twitter.
2. Samasource (Global)
Billed as a “bridge to the global talent pool,” this non-profit gives computer-based data projects to women and youth in areas all over the world where “technology is unfamiliar and traditional gender roles may prevent women from pursuing careers.” Since its founding in 2008, Samasource, which pays its workers a living wage, has built the number of women it has trained and employs to over 3,000 through data projects with companies including Getty Images, DropBox, Microsoft, and TripAdvisor in countries such as Haiti, Ghana, Uganda, Kenya and India. Learn more about working with Samasource or find them on Facebook and Twitter.
3. Hamara Internet (Pakistan)
Hamara Internet is a campaign by the Digital Rights Foundation that promotes a secure digital environment for women and protects their online and offline freedom of expression. Through workshops, training and research, the campaign is empowering Pakistani women to connect with online communities via social media channels, to learn how to increase their online security, and to combat cyber-violence, among other things. Find them on Facebook and Twitter.
Women for Empowerment and Entrepreneurship (W2E2) provides digital tools, Internet connectivity and digital literacy skills training to help rural women in India set up social and/or entrepreneurial micro-enterprises. Many of these women are now using the Internet for their own projects in fields like sustainable agriculture and rural health. Some are setting up their own kiosks and shops to provide online services to the local community, while others have taken up work as digital literacy trainers in their own local communities. Learn more about W2E2.
5. International Girls in ICT Day (Global)
An initiative of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), International Girls in ICT Day aims to create a global environment that empowers and encourages girls and young women to consider careers in the field of ICT, Information and Communications Technology. Celebrated on the 4th Thursday in April every year, the main goal is to make girls and young women aware of the vast possibilities offered by ICTs and give them the confidence to pursue ICT studies and careers. To date, over 111,000 girls and young women have taken part in more than 3,500 Girls in ICT Day events held in 140 countries worldwide. ITU has also developed Girls in ICT Portal, with a database of programs and other informative and inspirational materials to help girls and young women to enter the ICT sector. Click or tap to find the ITU Girls in ICT Portal.
6. Tujiunge (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Tujiunge is a computer resource center for women coping with violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where violence against women is rampant due to ongoing political instability and armed groups based in the region. The center is designed to give women access to information, education and support services via the Internet to help them cope with violent situations in the Uvira community. More information is available on the Tujiunge blog.
7. Ayni Bolivia (Bolivia)
Ayni Bolivia provides training for underserved young women interested in computer maintenance and security on the Internet. The classes, which include learning how to assemble computers and load Linux and Windows operating systems, provide more than technical training – they help girls become more confident. One course participant noted that her new skills have enabled her to help her Dad repair computers – helping generate income for her family and giving her an opportunity to work with her father. Learn more about Ayni Bolivia and watch the girls at work on via a video on YouTube.
8. Afchix (Africa)
Afchix is designed to encourage girls and young women in Africa to take up careers in tech. It provides mentoring, training and support for young women interested in the Internet engineering and computing fields so they will be equipped to build next generation IP infrastructures. Afchix activities include organizing events that draw hundreds of girls and young women to share experiences and learn what they can achieve by devoting themselves to the study of computer science and information technology.
9. Respect Girls on the Net (Sri Lanka)
Cyber-harassment is a growing phenomenon in every part of the world, but can pose an even greater threat in regions where there are fewer regional resources to educate people on its consequences. Respect Girls on the Net (RGNET) is an initiative by Youth Empowerment Society (YES) founded by Shilpa Sayura e Sri Lanka Project to create youth awareness and dialogue on the problems faced by girls on the Internet. RGNET offers local-language content that builds awareness of the issue, advocates for and trains kids in “safe and respectful online discourse,” and provides resources and guidance to victims. Find them on Facebook.
10. Take Back the Tech! (Global)
As technology advances, women and girls have increasingly become targets of cyber-stalking and digital voyeurism, harassment, blackmail and threats. Take Back the Tech!,initiated by the Association for Progressive Communications’ Women’s Rights Programme,raises awareness, builds online equality and preserves digital freedom of expression for women and girls. For 16 days between Nov. 25 and Dec. 10, Take Back the Tech! issues a call to action: use every technology platform to shine a spotlight on the problem, create solidarity, and teach women how to combat it. Since it launched in 2006, the campaign has been translated into numerous languages and adopted by groups from Bangladesh to Bosnia and beyond. Find them on Facebook and Twitter.
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