Keep gender at center of global digital governance, NGO CSW68 event urges

      Comments Off on Keep gender at center of global digital governance, NGO CSW68 event urges

While digital platforms such as X already have tools in place to check for hate speech, Namata said that a manual methodology like the GMMP’s is vital to identify micro-aggressions and ensure context-appropriate vetting tools.

“The human-centered approach is the future.”

New research on women’s communication rights

The Digital Communication Rights event also featured new feminist communication scholarship.

Such contributions to the knowledge agenda help to keep a focus on women’s rights at policy-making tables, said Aimée Vega-Montiel, gender and media researcher at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, chair of GAMAG and co-chair of the Unitwin Network on Gender, Media and ICTs.

Cover of The Handbook of Gender, Communication, and Women's RightsMontiel introduced The Handbook on Gender, Communication and Women’s Human Rights, a publication she co-edited with WACC Laureate Margaret Gallagher that brings together 24 essays by 30 scholars and civil society activists.

That the Handbook opens by exploring the gender dimension of digital governance highlights the relevance of governance, stressed chapter author Claudia Padovani, associate professor at the University of Padova (Italy); co-chair of the UniTwin Network on Gender, Media and ICTs; and GMMP Italy coordinator.

Global policy-making processes such as the UN Summit of the Future and the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) are “spaces where feminist advocates should be,” she said, because such processes lack a full appreciation of a feminist understanding of gender. “We need to bring this knowledge into these spaces.”

Maria Edström, co-author of the Handbook’s chapter on the implications of gender equality in media for freedom of expression, highlighted the need for a “common goods” approach in light of a “decline of gender equality as a core value” alongside a marked deterioration in freedom of expression in many countries.

“Now no one talks about the Beijing Platform [for Action],” said Edström, GMMP Sweden coordinator. She urged civil society, academia, and the media to work together to develop a “new language” around women’s communication rights and to hold States accountable to their commitments.

María Soledad Vargas, co-author of the Handbook’s chapter on gender mainstreaming in journalism and communication education, pointed to the model curriculum developed by the Unitwin Network on Gender, Media and ICTs that aligns with the global commitments to empower women through media found in Section J of the Beijing Platform.

“We must create a new generation of journalism and media professionals sensitive to gender issues both in workplace and in content they produce,” Vargas stressed.

The forthcoming report Gender Equality in Media Development aims to find “effective entry points for the development of independent, gender-equal media systems,” said Agneta Söderberg-Jacobson, gender expert and senior advisor at the Fojo Media Institute.

The report, prepared by Fojo with the Center for International Media Assistance, looks at media management and ownership, media regulation, and media market dynamics.

It found that women journalists and gender-aware media organizations cannot be expected to shoulder all responsibility for advancing gender equality, said co-author Malak Monir, CIMA associate editor.

Broad, long-term coalitions are needed that involve civil society, trade unions, donors, and international bodies to “foster transformative change” through a global strategic vision for inclusive media, she said.

Advocating for women’s digital communication rights

During the final part of the event, Jenny Sulfath of the Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF), a WACC partner in India, highlighted the Summit of the Future in September 2024 and WSIS+20 among the opportunities for advocates for women’s communication rights to contribute to global debates around digital governance.

The Summit of the Future will move forward with a Global Digital Compact articulating principles for development of the world’s digital future, while the WSIS +20 Forum High-Level Event in May offers a chance to bring social justice to attention of digital governance discussions, she noted.

Sulfath urged participants to continue broadening the debate. “Bring digital justice into the feminist agenda. Push for policy development on digitalisation in forums where you are active, in every sector.”