These web warriors are arming girls and young women with internet tools and infrastructure

Asia's Tech News Daily

#digital literacy, #eshe, #gender, #South Asia women, #Technology, #web warriors, #women leaders, Read about her pathbreaking work here, auctioned, First published in eShe

Four web warriors came together from across South Asia earlier this month to talk about why arming girls and young women with internet tools is the key to women’s empowerment in this century, and to share notes on success stories and challenges.

“The biggest challenge for all of us in South Asia has been the norms and stereotypes that are rooted in our patriarchal value system. Because of this, women and girls do not have equal opportunities, they do not have accurate and scientific information about their bodies to make informed decisions about themselves,” says Paba Deshapriya, founder of The Grassrooted Trust in Sri Lanka that aims to create more dignified and respectful spaces in cyberspace.

The organisation is an ally of sexually marginalised groups such as people living with HIV, sex workers, and those with diverse sexual orientations. “Everything we do is based on the five principles of respect, empathy, self-esteem, trust and consent,” says Paba, who also runs an online platform Bakamoono.lk, which disseminates information trilingually about bodies, sexuality, sexual pleasure, HIV and contraceptives.

Speaking at eShe’s South Asia Union Summit Led by Women on a panel titled ‘Web Warriors: Arming Girls with Internet Tools and Infrastructure’, she explained that she started the Grassrooted Trust because the internet was a convenient way to reach people in Sri Lanka, a country that boasts of 50 percent internet penetration.

Paba’s copanelists were Juhi Javed Husain, UK civil servant, lawyer and senior policy advisor specialising in the digital regulation space, and Pinky Pradhan, director, communications and strategic partnerships at Plan India, who is helming the international NGO’s Digital Mitra program in India to educate girls in internet tools.

(Sadaffe Abid, advocate for women’s advancement, tech and financial inclusion, and founder of CIRCLE, Pakistan, was also invited to this panel but unfortunately could not make it as she fell ill. Read about her pathbreaking work here.)

Though Plan India has been present in the country for 40 years as a child rights’ organisation, their focus has shifted in the past five years towards girls’ rights and bringing in a gender-equal world, Pinky informed at the session.

Covid in 2020 acted as a deterrent and the digital divide present in India became strikingly clear to Pinky and her team. “Mobile penetration is higher in urban areas than rural and the gap increases further when it comes to women. We struggled to keep up with what was happening in our communities and with the task of keeping our stakeholders and the government informed, since our frontline workers couldn’t handle operations due to the sudden onslaught of the second wave,” she said.

They found an innovative solution, and decided to connect over mobiles with their girl changemakers to assess the situation. “This campaign became popular and more than 80 girls sent us regular messages and selfies about how their life was during the pandemic, informing us about their communities, the reverse migration, and helped us in spreading awareness,” said Pinky.

Her team was so inspired by the success of this initiative that they decided to venture into digital storytelling, one that comes straight from the horse’s mouth.

Plan India partnered with Twitter for this content-creation project, initially with just 15 girls, across India. These girls were trained in photography, scripting, video-making, community-building, and were also taught about privacy issues, online safety, and risks on social-media platforms.

“They spoke about some really hard-hitting concepts such as lack of education for the girl child, child marriages, sports for development, menstrual hygiene, and access to sanitary pads,” shared Pinky about the three-month project.

Plan India now aims to scale this project and train 600 girls over the next three years and, through them, create 10000 ‘digital mitras’ by the end of 2025. “It would lead to unfiltered, unadulterated stories shared by rural women themselves,” said Pinky.

Priyanka Singh, India-based data analytics consultant, founding member of South Asia Peace Action Network and moderator of the panel, brought up the topic of safety for women on the internet giving the example of recent example of Muslim women being ‘auctioned’ on social-media platforms.

Juhi Javed Husain, a passionate champion for making social-media spaces safer for women, commented on the ecosystem of digital safety: “For a long time, everyone on the internet could do whatever they wanted to, there was no legal framework around them, and they were acting like the robber barons of the 19th century. This also gave entrepreneurs space to explore their creativity and develop new and exciting things,” said the Pakistani-origin policymaker.

The massive downside of this is that governments always end up playing catch-up, she said. There has, however, been a major shift in awareness with governments, civil-society organisations as well as social-media companies themselves recognising the need for more accountability.

“Apart from terrorism and child sexual exploitation, there are also issues of cyber-bullying, and sexual harassment, which make it extremely unsafe for women. While women are also harassed offline, the instances increase tenfold online!” she said.

People are now more aware of extremist organisations on the internet and the threat of terrorism, but, on the other hand, she said, “Sometimes nation-states who recognise such dangers flip to the reverse extreme.” She gave the examples of China, which has massive censorship, and India and Pakistan, where the state selectively censors what goes against their own political agenda or advantage.

She believes this problem is also reflective of South Asia’s inherent cultural issues. “There are superior internet-safety laws in Western nations because in their culture, the individual is important, whereas in South Asian culture, it is all about the greater good of the community over individual choices,” she said, adding a caveat that while keeping the individual at the centre of policymaking isn’t a panacea, it does guarantee more rights.

Paba expressed her view that online spaces are merely a reflection of offline spaces such as roads, schools, or even home, which are unsafe for women everywhere in South Asia, with family and property laws dating back to pre-colonial days. “We need to facilitate the complaint mechanism for the survivors of cyber violence,” she said about solving the issue of online safety for women.

Pinky emphasised that the only way to tackle the absence of laws or their poor execution is awareness. “Creating large-scale awareness of safety regulations at the school, college, and community level will help improve the active participation of girls online. Social-media companies must let people know about their safety features,” she stressed.

First published in eShe

Internet Explorer Channel Network
Asia's Tech News Daily
News Related

OTHER NEWS

Anand Mahindra says 'new roar' as Paris municipal cops get bikes with India link

Peugeot Metropolis is now being used by the Paris municipal police. (Image credit: Photo tweeted by @pakwakankar) Mahindra group-owned Peugeot Motorcycles have been added to the fleet of the Paris ... Read more »

World AIDS Day: About 57% Indians don't use any form of contraception, finds survey

Representative image A survey released on the eve of World AIDS Day has revealed that about 57 percent of India do not use any form of contraception such as condoms. Conducted ... Read more »

Bajaj Auto reports 10% dip in November sales

Bajaj Auto on Wednesday reported a 10 per cent decline in its total wholesales at 3,79,276 units in November 2021. The company had dispatched 4,22,240 units in the same month ... Read more »

Realme GT 2 Pro launch confirmed in December with Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip

The Realme GT 2 Pro camera module’s horizontal bar houses a triple-camera setup with two LED flash cutouts. It is said to have two 50MP camera sensors, which are likely ... Read more »

World Aids Day 2021: History, theme, significance

HIV, a major public health issue, affects millions of people across the world. The virus attacks the immune system and reduces its resistance to other diseases, putting the life of ... Read more »

Xiaomi 11i HyperCharge launch in India with 120W charging rumoured; RAM, storage, colour options leaked

Xiaomi 11i HyperCharge is said to be a rebadged version of the Redmi Note 11 Pro+, which was launched in China earlier this year. Xiaomi 11i HyperCharge launch in India ... Read more »

Elon Musk introduces $50 Tesla Cyberwhistle, says 'don't buy silly Apple Cloth'

Elon Musk, on Tesla’s Cyberwhistle, said, “Don’t waste your money on that silly Apple Cloth, buy our whistle instead!” Billionaire Elon Musk has asked people to “blow the whistle on ... Read more »

Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 launched with many world's-first features; to power flagships from Xiaomi, Realme, Vivo

Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 launched at the Snapdragon Summit is Qualcomm’s flagship platform for smartphones in 2022. The new Snapdragon chip comes as a successor to the Snapdragon 888 ... Read more »

Rules to create gene-edited farm animals must put welfare first - review

These gene-edited piglets have been made resistant to a lethal lung disease Regulations to allow the production of gene-edited farm animals must put welfare first, according to an independent review. ... Read more »

Digital technology rules as NFT tops art world power list

(Nyan Cat @prguitarman/Christopher Torres) The rise of digital art is complete after game changing technology NFT topped a chart of the most powerful influencers in the art world. NFT, which ... Read more »

Hundreds of FedEx Packages Were Found Dumped in a Ravine, Driver Under Investigation

There’s the old adage about letters seemingly getting ‘lost in the mail’ or the all too familiar and unfortunate reality of packages being delayed thanks to the pandemic and supply ... Read more »

Labor Board Official Orders Revote on Forming Union for Alabama Amazon Warehouse Workers

A labor board official has ordered a revote for Amazon warehouse workers in Alabama regarding forming the company’s first unionized warehouse in the United States. PATRICK T. FALLON | Getty Images The ... Read more »

Musk Laments 'Supply Chain Nightmare' Facing Cybertruck Production

Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk on Monday lamented the ongoing supply chain difficulties facing the release of the company’s much-delayed Cybertruck and said he will share updates about the new electric vehicle when the company reports its ... Read more »

Elon Musk Speaks Out on New Twitter CEO

The social-media world went into a frenzy Monday after Twitter CEO and founder Jack Dorsey announced that he would be stepping down from his role at the media company. picture ... Read more »

Lululemon Hits Peloton With a Lawsuit for Its 'Knockoff' Designs

Last week, Peloton sued fellow athletic brand Lululemon after the latter threatened to take legal action if Peloton kept selling its new clothes. On Monday, Lululemon followed through on its ultimatum and filed ... Read more »

Redmi Note 10, other budget smartphones under the series go out of stock on Mi.com

To make way for the next generation, it seems like Xiaomi has limited the stock of the Redmi Note 10 series in India via its official channels. The upcoming Redmi ... Read more »

Vegan en Vogue: Here's Why Some of the Biggest Events of the Year are Nixing Meat from Their Menus

For nearly two years, virtually every cultural event has been canceled, or at least dramatically scaled back for the sake of COVID-19 safety precautions. After a year of parties and ... Read more »

Stephen Colbert Ribs Jeff Bezos and His 'Penis Rocket'

On Monday night, The Late Show host Stephen Colbert used his opening monologue to skewer consumer habits amid yet another holiday-shopping season. Michael M. Santiago | Getty Images Colbert wished his ... Read more »

Budweiser's First NFT Collection Sells Out Within an Hour

On Monday, Budweiser joined the non-fungible token craze with the launch of its first collection of unique pieces of digital art — depictions of beer cans that sold for hundreds of dollars ... Read more »

Forget the "New Normal." There's No Normal in Marketing.

Over the past 18 months, companies navigating the pandemic have dealt with numerous changes to seemingly every facet of work. Beyond shifts in daily routines, work lives, and social behavior, ... Read more »

This Crypto-Fueled Internet Collective Raised More Than $40 Million to Buy a Rare Copy of the Constitution

The United States Constitution is more than just another document: It’s the foundation upon which this entire country has been built. In the most significant possible sense, it’s what attempts to ... Read more »

Supply chain constraints to dent Maruti Suzuki production levels in December

The country’s largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki India on Tuesday said its production in December could only be up to 85 per cent of the normal, owing to supply constraint of ... Read more »

The Use Of Recycled Plastics In Packaging Of Food And Drinks Needs To Be Re-Deliberated: Experts

LawWiser, India’s first video-only knowledge-sharing platform for the legal community, today released a consultation paper on ‘The Dilemma of Recycling Plastics in India’. The objective of this consultation paper is ... Read more »

Maruti Suzuki hikes prices of Eeco van by Rs 8,000

Maruti Suzuki Eeco Maruti Suzuki India on Tuesday said it has increased prices of all non-cargo variants of its Eeco van by Rs 8,000 owing to the introduction of passenger ... Read more »

Vehicles Rental Industry Is booming With Technological Advancements

With the evolving technology and innovative ideas, it has been made easy for emerging startups to enter the market and establish their identity in the respective domain that they cater ... Read more »

Key Agritech Trends To Expect In 2022

Investors’ interest in agritech startups has increased tremendously today as agritech is one of the few sectors that not only survived but thrived during the pandemic.  According to industry reports, ... Read more »

Watch: New Navy chief takes mother's blessings on taking charge

Admiral Hari Kumar was serving as the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Western Naval Command before his elevation. Admiral R Hari Kumar took over as the country’s Navy chief, succeeding ... Read more »

Rihanna declared national hero of Barbados as island becomes republic

Rihanna was honored as a National Hero at Barbados’s Presidential Inauguration Ceremony. Fireworks filled the sky over Barbados on Tuesday as the Caribbean island nation declared itself the world’s newest ... Read more »

OnePlus 9 price in India is lower than OnePlus 9R ahead of rumoured OnePlus 9RT launch

Customers can also claim the OnePlus 9 discount offer on the company’s official website. OnePlus 9 price in India at launch was set at Rs 49,999. The premium smartphone under ... Read more »

What's the fuss about Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal's tweet from 11 years ago?

Parag Agrawal was appointed as the chief executive officer (CEO) of Twitter on Monday. Parag Agrawal, who took over as the new head of Twitter, shot from relative obscurity as ... Read more »

Storyboard18 | ‘I can tell a story, and the moral of that story can be your product or service': aiyyoshraddha

Shraddha Jain is popularly known on the Internet as aiyyoshraddha. Shraddha Jain spent nine years as a radio jockey and then some time working in the television industry where she ... Read more »

What Does 2022 Hold For India's D2C Market?

India’s D2C market is on an all-time rise and is not set to slow down anytime soon. While the COVID-19 pandemic certainly gave way to business disruptions across verticals, categorically ... Read more »

Redmi Note 11T 5G launched in India to take on Realme 8s 5G, Lava Agni 5G

Redmi Note 11T 5G specifications include a MediaTek Dimensity 810 SoC and a 5000 mAh battery. Redmi Note 11T 5G launched in India is Xiaomi’s new budget 5G smartphone under ... Read more »

Elliot Page, 'Juno' star, shows off six-packs in shirtless mirror selfie

Elliot Page came out as transgender in December 2020. Actor Elliot Page on Monday showed off his six-packs in a selfie on Instagram, almost a year after he came out ... Read more »

"Agrawal ji ka beta": As Parag Agrawal becomes Twitter CEO, memes galore

Parag Agrawal, 37, holds a PhD in computer science from Stanford University and a bachelor’s degree in computer science and engineering from Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay. Minutes after Parag Agrawal ... Read more »

Cryptocurrency | Virtual currencies are here to stay. Astute regulation is what is required

Cryptocurrency (Representative image) The listing of the Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021 in the winter session of Parliament was not unexpected given the statements made by ... Read more »

And now Twitter. Global tech giants run by CEOs who grew up in India

Sundar Pichai | CEO, Alphabet | Google CEO Sundar Pichai was born in Tamil Nadu capital Chennia and grew up in the city. Pichai received a B. Tech from the ... Read more »

Zerodha's Nikhil Kamath says 'Twitter missed US tech rally' after Jack Dorsey steps down

Nikhil Kamath Twitter stock has seen great traction but missed the US tech rally, said Zerodha co-founder Nikhil Kamath after Jack Dorsey announced his departure as the CEO of the microblogging ... Read more »

Schools need to step up to address Islamophobia

The inspiration for this article was born of frustration and heartache. It follows the murders of four intergenerational members of the Afzaal/Salman family that left a nine-year-old child injured and ... Read more »

Inside the ‘odd, eccentric' life of ‘checked-out' Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey

As Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey steps down as CEO, insiders reveal what his billionaire life is really like. NY Post photo composite Even among Silicon Valley’s oddball geniuses, Jack Dorsey ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic