[bestbits] [DC] [governance] [Ext] Re: [IGFmaglist] IGF Best Practice Forum on Gender: Access

Dhanaraj Thakur dhanaraj.thakur at webfoundation.org
Tue Oct 3 12:42:32 EDT 2017

Hi all,

I appreciate the point about looking at gender from all angles including
those of men. We in the Caribbean are in (probably) a unique situation
where women outperform men in various areas (though not the important ones).

However, the IGF BPF on Gender is focused on/Internet access/. Research
(from the Web Foundation, ITU, and others) show that globally when we
look at access in terms of gender, women are less likely to use the
Internet than men. Thus, if we want more people to get online and
benefit from the Internet the way we do, we need to address why this gap
exists. In that sense, we therefore need to focus on women and girls
when it comes to access. This is why the IGF BPF on Gender has this
initiative now to identify ways to improve women's access in these
various areas.

Obviously, in some places women use the Internet at similar levels of
men. In fact in the Caribbean (for the few countries where there data
does exist), it appears that women are more likely to use the Internet
than men. However, that is not the reality for most of the world. As the
IGF BPF is global in scope (and as long as globally the Internet use
rate for women is less than men) I think the focus on women in terms of
gender and access makes sense.

take care,


Dhanaraj Thakur
Senior Research Manager
Alliance for Affordable Internet <http://a4ai.org>
+1 240 232 5878 (USA)
PGP: 0xFCB84FE2A0E7C147
*World Wide Web Foundation | **1110 Vermont Ave NW, Suite 500,
Washington DC 20005, USA.*

On 10/03/2017 12:23 PM, Deirdre Williams wrote:
> Thank you Bishakha for supporting my argument - or at least adding
> supporting material.
> This is the list of issues that was posted for comment:
> a) Indigenous women
> b) Refugee women
> c) Women with disabilities
> d) Young women
> e) Rural women
> Nowhere is there any indication of the diversity of gender you describe.
> This is not to say that the diversity is not being addressed, but in
> the interest of creating an atmosphere of trust and a sense of fair
> play the addressing needs to be SEEN to be done.
> Do we need a change of language - is the word "gender" itself part of
> the problem? Or do we need a different perception of what gender is -
> a spectrum rather than a dichotomy? (Although even that would seem to
> exclude the un-gendered.) Should there be a Dynamic Coalition on
> Women? But then where would the needs of everyone else be addressed?
> Language and how it is defined becomes more and more important to us
> as the discussion spreads further and further. Language is the first
> tool that we have to begin to find solutions to the problems. As the
> discussion spreads so the number of languages which must interact with
> one another becomes greater and greater. Accurate translation requires
> a more than casual understanding of the original text.
> So - back to the question - how do we make "gender" work for us, ALL
> of us?
> Deirdre
> On 3 October 2017 at 11:05, Bishakha Datta <bishakha at pointofview.org
> <mailto:bishakha at pointofview.org>> wrote:
>     Hello all,
>     I wanted to jump into the discussion on the use of the term 'gender'.
>     This is a complex and multi-layered issue. 
>     At the IGF's Dynamic Coalition on Gender and Internet Governance,
>     which Jac is very much a part of and has shaped since its
>     inception, we talk about gender not to mean one or two genders,
>     but multiple genders - men, women, trans persons etc. Several
>     individuals all over the world define themselves as neither male
>     nor female, which must also be taken into account in any
>     discussion on gender.
>     Even though we know that there are multiple genders, the reason we
>     focus on women and trans persons (sometimes unnamed) in these
>     discussions is simply because women as a 'gender' lack power,
>     resources, opportunities, decision-making - both online and
>     offline. A focus on women in gender discussions does not /exclude
>     /men; it does the reverse. It actually /includes /and brings
>     women, who have traditionally been excluded or under-represented,
>     into the picture.
>     Increasing diversity always means looking at - and taking measures
>     to include - those who have traditionally been excluded or
>     under-represented. From a gender perspective, this means women and
>     trans persons. From a language perspective, this means thinking
>     about languages that are under-represented online. From the
>     perspective of ability, diversity means taking steps to include
>     those who are seen as disability (eg accessibility measures etc).
>     I'm making the broader analogies around diversity only to
>     demonstrate that the same 'rule' applies to thinking around
>     diversity and inclusion, not only in the context of gender.
>     Best
>     Bishakha
>     On Tue, Oct 3, 2017 at 9:05 PM, Capda Capda <capdasiege at gmail.com
>     <mailto:capdasiege at gmail.com>> wrote:
>         Hi Asène,
>         Tu soulèves là un très bon point. J'ai toujours eu comme
>         l'impression que la notion du genre est considérée par la
>         majorité qui y défend comme la problématique de la femme, ce
>         qui constitue une erreur et un déséquilibre grave. Vivement
>         que nous puissions recentrer cette notion importante pour la
>         gouvernance de notre société. Vive la diversité.
>         Cordialement.
>         Hi Asene,
>         You raise a very good point here. I have always had the
>         impression that the notion of gender is considered by the
>         majority who defend it as the problematic of women, which
>         constitutes a mistake and a serious imbalance. We strongly
>         hope that we can refocus this important notion for the
>         governance of our society. Long live for the diversity.
>         Best Regards,
>         2017-10-03 15:45 GMT+02:00 Arsène Tungali
>         <arsenebaguma at gmail.com <mailto:arsenebaguma at gmail.com>>:
>             Hi all,
>             Thank you very much Deidre for raising that issue with
>             regards to "gender". I tend to agree with you on all your
>             points and do believe we need to reconsider the way we
>             see/talk about  and define gender. 
>             We might run into the lack of balance if we consider men,
>             leaving women behind and vice versa. Though i believe we
>             all fight for diversity.
>             Regards,
>             Arsene
>             -----------------
>             Arsène Tungali,
>             about.me/ArseneTungali <http://about.me/ArseneTungali>
>             +243 993810967 <tel:+243%20993%20810%20967>
>             GPG: 523644A0
>             Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo
>             Sent from my iPhone (excuse typos)
>             On Oct 3, 2017, at 2:41 PM, Deirdre Williams
>             <williams.deirdre at gmail.com
>             <mailto:williams.deirdre at gmail.com>> wrote:
>>             Dear Jac,
>>             Dear Jac,
>>             While I support your work on behalf of women and girls
>>             I’m noticing a trend which is very disturbing – that is
>>             the creation of “gender” as being synonymous with
>>             “women/female”, at times almost acting as a euphemism.
>>             Consider what you wrote yesterday:
>>             the multiple forms of disparity and discrimination that
>>             the diversity of women face
>>             and what Michael wrote this morning:
>>             To put it mildly, helping to empower women and girls with
>>             meaningful and sustainable access is imperative to our future
>>             Where are the men?
>>             We seem to be being driven into an unfortunate case of
>>             divide and rule. A huge theme for the internet is
>>             inclusion, and yet “gender” is excluding approximately
>>             half of its population. So if we want to say “women”
>>             couldn’t we just say “women”? Do we think it’s a bad
>>             word? And if we’re discussing gender, couldn’t we include
>>             the men too? For example there might be workshops
>>             considering things from both sides, offering a male
>>             perspective as well. Are there men who facilitate
>>             internet access for women? Are there men who actively
>>             block access? How is this done and what measures have
>>             been implemented to get round the blocking? Are there men
>>             who are themselves denied access to the internet?
>>             The human race is diverse, in gender as well as in many
>>             other things. Denying diversity has been demonstrated as
>>             an unsuccessful way to try to solve problems, because the
>>             diversity persists no matter how much it is denied.
>>             What do other people think?
>>             Best wishes from the Caribbean (where we have a concern
>>             about the “marginalised male”)
>>             Deirdre.
>>             On 2 October 2017 at 05:52, Jac sm Kee <jac at apcwomen.org
>>             <mailto:jac at apcwomen.org>> wrote:
>>                 Much thanks for all the considered thoughts on this
>>                 issue. Being a
>>                 committed advocate of this issue, I appreciate the
>>                 reflection and
>>                 insights on why it is both difficult and important to
>>                 integrate gender
>>                 into IG and policy conversations, including and esp
>>                 on access.
>>                 I hope this thread of discussion helped to clarify
>>                 why it doesn't make
>>                 sense to stack the multiple forms of disparity and
>>                 discrimination that
>>                 the diversity of women face before we take action to
>>                 address whatever
>>                 that is within our ability, capacity and
>>                 responsibility to address. Also
>>                 happy to take this conversation further if more
>>                 doubts or questions
>>                 surface.
>>                 In the meantime, we continue to appreciate your
>>                 support in responding to
>>                 as well as disseminating the survey to your networks
>>                 who do work in this
>>                 area.
>>                 As a reminder, the survey link is:
>>                 https://www.apc.org/limesurvey/index.php/783797/lang-en
>>                 <https://www.apc.org/limesurvey/index.php/783797/lang-en>
>>                 Best,
>>                 jac
>>                 ---------------------------------
>>                 Jac sm Kee
>>                 Manager, Women's Rights Programme
>>                 Association for Progressive Communications
>>                 www.apc.org <http://www.apc.org> |
>>                 www.takebackthetech.net
>>                 <http://www.takebackthetech.net> | erotics.apc.org
>>                 <http://erotics.apc.org>
>>                 Jitsi: jacsmk | Skype: jacsmk | Twitter: @jhybe
>>             -- 
>>             “The fundamental cure for poverty is not money but
>>             knowledge" Sir William Arthur Lewis, Nobel Prize
>>             Economics, 1979
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