Beyond the Net Community Projects Development Growing the Internet Human Rights Improving Technical Security Internet Governance Privacy Women in Tech

Internet Chalao, Patriarchy Dabao. Leveling up Pakistani women.

Beyond the Net Journal: Pakistan Chapter #2 Episode

In the absence of any laws to tackle cyber harassment, Nighat Dad, digital rights advocate, created Hamara Internet (Our Internet), a pioneer project to raise the awareness of digital violence against women. The project, funded by Internet Society’s Beyond the Netis now completed and opened a new chapter in the struggle for women’s rights in Pakistan.

Hamara Internet is all about WOMEN and their right to use the Internet free from harassment. Under the slogan “Internet Chalao, Patriarchy Dabao” (Use the Internet, Destroy Patriarchy), Hamara Internet provided women with skills to create safe online spaces and advocate for gender-inclusive Internet governance processes at a national level.

“The project has been successful in many ways.” says Nighad Dad “The main target of the campaign was to train about 300 students, but the program ended up training more than 460. Our efforts to involve women in large numbers were rewarded with an enthusiastic response. The more seminars we held the more we were asked by other colleges and universities to hold similar trainings in their institutes as well. The Internet Society mission had been introduced in every seminar we conducted by Mr. Faisal Shahzad, vice president of Pakistan Chapter. At the end of the campaign, the national conference we held in Islamabad attracted more than 100 young women from Lahore, Karachi, Quetta and Peshawar.”

Informative brochures about privacy and online safety have been created in both English and Urdu languages and distributed in the form of ten flip cards during seminars and conferences. The website was built to give legal and security advice, providing with the first digital harassment Crisis Center in Pakistan.

Hamara Internet success is providing key evidence that the Open Internet is an essential tool in facilitating the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, leveraging collaboration and partnerships needed to make them a reality. This is how the project is relevant for the following SDG’s goals:

1. No Poverty
In Pakistan poverty has a “woman’s face”. Women’s lives are affected by economic deprivation. They have been deprived of adequate education and forced to live in the tight bind of the patriarchal tradition. Hamara Internet is teaching women to take control of their lives and to catch online opportunities to reduce poverty.

3. Good health and well-being
One Pakistani woman dies every 37 minutes from complications during childbirth indicating poor maternal healthcare in the country. Domestic violence is still a main cause of complications related to pregnancy. Women safe access to the Internet allows to find information for a healthier life and to discuss about reproductive issues and domestic violence.

4. Quality education
We are talking about a country that has one of the lowest literacy rates in the world. Where women are forced to just bear children and stay within their houses. Where separate schools for girls are not available in several regions. In this scenario, offering access to appropriate technology allows all female students to get in contact with a world of opportunities, opening up access to education and training in a very cost-effective way. Women empowered through education will be able to improve their own living conditions, as well as the conditions of their society.

5. Gender equality
Pakistan has been ranked the second worst country in the world for gender equality (first is Yemen). The gender gap is dramatically widening and today is larger than 10 years ago. Hamara Internet is spreading awareness about the imbalances between women’s and men’s access and participation in ICTs and is fighting to ensure that women equally share the benefits arising from the global digital economy.

8. Decent work and economic growth
The main factors contributing to poor employment trends include low literacy rates, social taboos and regulations preventing the active participation of women in the economic growth. They are forced into low-paid jobs where their abilities remain unused. The project showed women that the possibilities to improve their lives going online are endless. Some are starting to use the Internet to run their own business, others are using it to manage entire projects or to create presentations for their colleges.

10. Reduced inequalities
There is a growing evidence of multiple inequalities in Pakistan: race, gender, geography and economy. The project is aiming to increase the capacity building of women and set a new paradigm of Internet governance in Pakistan by engaging women in political discussions.

16. Peace, justice and strong istitutions
The annual report by the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan recorded hundreds of rapes, kidnapping, acid attacks, amputations and burnings. Almost 800 women attempted suicide in 2016. Women are frequently too afraid to report the crimes or are forced to withdrawing complaints. The project team is working with institutions to integrate Hamara Internet workshops and training manuals in the educational programmes of schools and colleges to make the next generations more secure and well-informed.

This pioneer project had become a women’s movement contributing to make a better world, a world of more compassion and equality. The key to a better future of Pakistan lies in giving priority to the development of human capabilities for which the Internet role can make a difference.

Watch the video to hear from a cyber harassment victim

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If you like this story, please share it with your friends. That would tremendously help in spreading the word and raising the visibility of this project. Help more people understand how the Internet can change lives.

We are interested in your project
We are looking for new ideas from people all over the world on how to make your community better using the Internet. Internet Society “Beyond the Net Funding Programme” funds projects up to $ 30.000 USD.

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Beyond the Net Community Projects Human Rights Women in Tech

Digital abuse against women. Nighat’s fight in Pakistan.

Beyond the Net Journal: Pakistan Chapter, Hamara Internet #1 Episode

International Women’s Day is a call to action especially in parts of the world where women are still forced to deal with shocking inequality on a daily basis. We would like to celebrate the spirit of women through the amazing story of Nighat Dad, named TIME’s next generation leader.

Nighat Dad started her career as a lawyer practicing criminal and family law and also volunteering with women’s rights organizations. By that time she collected and responded to a large number of reports by women experiencing digital harassment and abuse. “Women approaching the Internet end up ashamed“ says Nighat “They are threatened, dishonored and forced to delete their email and social accounts”.

The problem of online harassment is global but is even worse in Pakistan, considering  that the deep rooted patriarchal culture also affects the online life.  According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan there are more than 1.000 women murdered in “honor killings” every year, and one woman gets raped every two hours.

Nighat got blackmailed too, and she couldn’t get a judicial relief despite being a lawyer. She searched within the Pakistani legislation only to find out there is no law against cybercrime at all! At that stage, she asked herself the question that changed her life: “If as a lawyer I can’t get legal remedy against cyber harassment, what will happen to ordinary people?

In 2012 she set up the “Digital Rights Foundation” and started teaching thousands of Pakistani women to protect themselves from online harassment. “We tell Internet users how to adjust their privacy settings and change their passwords frequently” says Nighat. “Women come here to seek help if they are targeted for cyberbullying”. Her tenacity increased her experience and capacity building on digital crimes, enhancing the performance of criminal justice organizations.

In 2015, Nighat submitted an application to the new Internet Society grants “Beyond the Net Funding programme” to create Hamara Internet, a national campaign to raise awareness of digital violence against women. The pioneer project, supported by Pakistan Chapter, is providing women with the necessary information and tools to protect their freedom of expression. They are committed to foster a free and secure digital environment for young students, rights activists and women of every age.

To encourage the replication of the project by Chapters all over the world, the program is well organized through a wide range of activities and a dedicated website.

Project activities:

  • awareness workshops and seminars in several colleges and universities
  • national conference on women’s digital rights in Islamabad
  • technical training of over 300 young women in digital security
  • creation of manuals and guidebooks in English and Urdu
  • distribution of promotional material and informative flyers

Hamara Internet means Our Internet” says Nighat “Because the Internet means so much to Pakistani women. We want the old generation to stop treating the Internet like the devil and start using it as a weapon to kill that devil: ignorance, harassment and gender inequality”.

Nighat Dad has been named in the TIME’s list of next generation leaders. She is a passionate young innovator inspiring others to have the courage to follow their convictions. Her greatest ambition is to lead Pakistani women to freely showcase their talents on the Internet contributing to the future of Pakistan.

Watch the Video

How the project can be replicated in other countries?

Learn from her own voice

Share this story

If you like this story please share it with your friends. That would tremendously help in spreading the word and raising the visibility of this project. Help more people understand how the Internet can change lives.

Do you have a great idea? We are interested in your project.

We are looking for new ideas from people all over the world on how to make your community better using the Internet.
Internet Society “Beyond the Net Funding Programme” funds projects up to $30,000 USD.

Find out more

Beyond the Net Funding Programme
Register for the Information Sessions
Watch the movie “Nighat Dad – Hamara Internet – Internet Society Pakistan Chapter”