Women in Tech

Women, Innovation, Internet: Taking On The Tough Problems

A few weeks ago leaders from around the world gathered at the UN Sustainable Development Conference in New York to ratify one of the biggest promises the world has ever made to itself.

Over 17 Global Goals were put in place – set out to achieve extraordinary things in the next 15 years. Dedicated to fighting injustice and inequalities, ending climate change, beat discrimination, bring in sustainable energy, and make sure no one goes hungry.

The targets are ambitious – but we believe that in the digital age, we have the tools to succeed. These goals have the best chance in history to be met IF communities around the world have access to an open Internet.

Today, mobile Internet access helps stop the spread of disease; it can boost crop production. And multiple connections around the globe can help slow climate change.

Here’s why.

The Internet is a People Network connecting one person to another, one community to another, one nation to another. It is a Knowledge Network putting the collective knowledge of humankind in the hands of anyone and everyone. And, it is a Service Delivery Network allowing health care, education, money, government services, among other things to be delivered to users of the Internet far from its origin. That is why we believe that one of the most important Goals for sustainable development is found in Goal 9: “Significantly increase access to information and communications technology and strive to provide universal and affordable access to the Internet in least developed countries by 2020” 

Solving Tough Problems in Tough Places

Charles Kettering, an American inventor, once said “There will always be a frontier where there is an open mind and a willing hand.”

This drive to seek out new frontiers and new opportunities has driven human innovation since the dawn of time. Today’s frontier encompasses some of the world’s biggest economic, environmental, and social challenges. Those with open minds and willing hands to build their ideas to levels that are innovative and sustainable.

To deconstruct this – I’ll take a real world example.

Women, Poverty, and the Internet

Recently, I spoke at the Women’s Forum For the Economy and Society in Deauville France. A panel of accomplished leaders will be focusing on how digital technologies are driving poverty reduction.

There have been many studies on how women are key to fighting poverty.

Consider this:

  • The OECD estimates that on average, across its member countries, a 50 percent reduction in the gender gap in labor force participation alone would boost GDP an extra 6 percent by 2030, with a further 6 percent gain if gaps closed entirely.

This is not breaking news.

But, the world now offers new digital tools for women to use: girls and women with Internet access on their mobile devices can change the world. Faster than we ever thought possible.

But for that to happen we need to make sure that all people –and especially women –have a voice in building and shaping the tools that will so profoundly affect their lives.

Take Sigrid Ortega, an ISOC global member in Bolivia, is dedicated to helping problem solvers in rural communities take command by connecting them to tech tools and training.

With some funding from an ISOC grant, she started an Internet security program for young women. It not only equipped girls with certification, but also taught digital literacy skills to help them boost job opportunities. The work enabled these women to become Internet producers instead of merely Internet consumers.

There’s also Dorcas Muthoni. A computer scientist and entrepreneur, Dorcas is the founder of AfChix, a mentorship and capacity building initiative for women in computing across Africa. She is behind some of the most widely-used online applications in Africa and her organisation, AfChix, has worked to encourage girls to go into computing careers and helped women with career development.

All over the world women and girls are using the Internet to show their strength and fighting back against poverty. They’re achieving extraordinary things for themselves and their communities.

And the Internet Society is ready to join them. Our community of technical experts, policy and decision makers, advocates, creators, and people are working, every day, to tackle the world’s biggest challenges with the power of the Internet as inspiration.

Join us and lend your voice in support

Growing the Internet

Be One of The Africa Internet Experts to Meet in Mozambique Next Week

Building the Internet takes all kinds of people and, like anywhere, it takes a lot of work and a lot and a lot of trail and error.

If you’re working in the world of African Internet when it comes to policy, tech or content – next week is key!

Starting on August 24th, Africa’s leading Internet experts will meet in Maputo, Mozambique for the annual Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF).

The 3 day event – which will also be LiveStreamed – offers intense learning and more meaningful business and networking opportunities than a typical tech conference.

AfPIF 2015 Focuses on Case Studies

Speakers and sessions at this year’s AfPIF will focus on personal case studies. Together, participants will review what’s worked and what hasn’t when it comes to things like interconnection, peering and traffic exchange in Africa.

The three-day forum will engage in discussions on carrier neutral data center services and best practice, peering and transit experiences, tracking the evolution of intra African traffic localization and peering evolution in Africa.

Richard Bell, CEO of KOOBA, is scheduled to give the keynote: “Content and Data Centres – The Next Frontier for East Africa’s Silicon Savannah”

Patrick Christian of Telegeography will present new data on Africa Interconnection growth over the last 5 years in the second keynote of the event.

Learn How to Build IXPs

The “how to” sessions allow participants from established and new IXPs to share ideas on how to build IXPs, why and how to interconnect, and how to build an IXP from scratch.

Meet People Who Are Facing Similar Challenges

One of the major highlights of AfPIF meetings is the “peering introductions” sessions, where participants express interest in meeting participants from various networks and the introductions are organized through a meeting tool.

Join us online or in person

This year’s AfPIF will to be hosted by Eduardo Mondlane University Computing Centre (CIUEM) partnership with the Internet Society.

It takes place at :

Girassol Indy Congress Hotel & SPA.

Rua Macombe Nongué-Nongué, R.1.373 – Sommerschield, Maputo, Mozambique.

Not in Maupto? No problem. The conference will also be broadcast over LiveStream and you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions and share your experiences virtually.

Find out how to register on the AfPIF 2015 website.

You’ll head back to work reenergized and with new contacts to help you take on even some of the most difficult challenges when it comes to building an open and affordable Internet across Africa.

photo: © Nyani Quarmyne / Internet Society
Growing the Internet

Travel Lessons: It’s People Who Build the Internet

June is now behind us. It was a month of extensive traveling and filled with activities – travels and important lessons I’d like to share with you.

The month was an amazing experience that friendships and trust are just as important when it comes to building the Internet as technology.

The first week of June found me in Bulgaria. Sofia, the Bulgarian capital, hosted EuroDIG, the European Dialogue on Internet Governance, a meeting that could be called the European IGF. The meeting was very interesting and the debates highly rewarding. The event was well attended by everyone who as a stake in the Internet .

It was very gratifying for me not only to be part of a panel during a session and to speak from the floor during others, but also to witness the excellent participation of the entire Internet Society team led by our European colleagues and the role of our European Chapter representatives.

Speaking of the European ISOC Chapters, let me say that, to me, they were the cherry on top of my trip. A large number of ISOC Chapter representatives were present at EuroDIG, most of them serving in major roles within their regional community. The situation was ideal for organizing an activity with our Chapters, so we organized a workshop on the day immediately prior to the EuroDIG event. It was excellent, and many new ideas emerged. It’s highly encouraging to see all these colleagues willing to devote their time and energy based on shared values ​​and common convictions to further our mission.

In short, it was a great event, ISOC made a valuable contribution, and we had the chance to work with our excellent Chapters.

Now, if the first part of my trip was good, nothing but the same can be said of the next leg of my trip – from Sofia, I traveled to Colombo, capital of Sri Lanka. The mission: to participate in the regional workshop for ISOC Chapters from the Asia-Pacific region and INET Colombo, organized by the Sri Lanka ISOC Chapter to mark the 20th anniversary of the Internet in their country.

The energy at the workshop was unsurpassable. Sensitized by the recent natural disasters in Nepal and Vanuatu and motivated by the great work of the ISOC Nepal Chapter, some of the key discussions focused on what to do in these cases and what might be the best way for the ISOC community to contribute in such situations. The collective work completed during the workshop was very productive, and participants’ faces and attitudes clearly showed their desire to return to their communities to start implementing the ideas discussed under various topics.

The turnout for INET Colombo was wonderful – More than 200 people permanently on site and around 800 participating remotely from various nodes throughout the country.

The event was also a very emotional one. The presence of people who during the past 20 years have played a major role in Internet development within the island alongside the numerous recognitions and awards they were presented made for a very emotional event.

As if all of the above were not enough, I had the opportunity to meet with four honorable members of the Internet Hall of Fame – our host, Chairman of the Sri Lanka ISOC Chapter and member of the ISOC Board, Gihan Dias; Prof. Kilnam Chon; Abhava Induruwa; and Kanchana Kanchanasut.

On my last day in Sri Lanka, Joyce Dogniez, ISOC Director of Chapters, and I were invited to visit an ISOC Sri Lanka project outside the city of Colombo. The project involves training war veterans – who were disabled as a result of their participation in the civil war the country endured for 27 years – in the use of ICTs. Thanks to this project, these young individuals – all of them under the age of 35 – are finding new job and personal growth opportunities. This great project allowed us to see an example of how ICTs can help solve concrete needs for many individuals.

From Sri Lanka I flew to Amsterdam, where we had a meeting with ISOC’s Executive Team. Our work together allowed us to pause and reload, review the work done so far this year, and plan ahead for the rest of 2015. These face-to-face meetings with colleagues with whom I interact daily via videoconferencing are always a welcome experience.

From Amsterdam on to ICANN 53 in Buenos Aires, where I arrived just in time for dinner with participants of the workshop for ISOC Chapters from the Americas, which we organized in Buenos Aires during the days prior to the ICANN meeting – an excellent way to kick off my week in Buenos Aires.

This was a week of many and intense discussions, with an agenda clearly marked by the IANA functions stewardship transition and multiple opportunities to meet with our partners, ISOC members, Chapters, and major players of the Internet community in general. No doubt, a very fruitful week during which the highpoint for ISOC was the traditional ISOC@ICANN event, held with a new format which turned out to be very attractive to all participants. This space allowed the encounter between different individuals committed to the same goals and who find pleasure in discovering we are not alone in this adventure.

And thus the month ended – a month of travels, conversations, different realities, all of them with something in common. From Sofia to Sri Lanka and over to Buenos Aires, the people of ISOC showed their commitment, contribution and dedication to the hope of a brighter future for everyone who uses the Internet.

At the moment of writing this blog entry, I’m already preparing my bags to hit the road once again. This time I’m traveling to New York, where I will join my colleagues of the ISOC New York Chapter to participate in Intercommunity 2015, our new global event, where I hope to meet all of you, who are now scattered around the world. Some of you I’ve met with during the past month and others I’ll meet at future events.

See you at #ICOMM15!! It all happens from 7 – 8 of July. Save the date!