More than a women's rights issue: How technology-facilitated gender-based violence is a threat to democracy
March 27, 2023
Girls and women, Governance
This is a recording of an event co-hosted by Pact and IREX on April 12, 2023.
Technology-facilitated gender-based violence (TFGBV) is disproportionately directed at women, girls and gender-diverse individuals, to silence their voices and curtail representation of diverse social, political and economic issues in politics and public discourse. Furthermore, women, girls and gender-diverse individuals from groups that experience multiple forms of discrimination are targeted by perpetrators of TFGBV at even higher rates. Governments and tech companies have not successfully generated solutions for protecting the right of women, girls and gender-diverse individuals to participate in digital spaces without encountering risks to their safety in the form of TFGBV.
TFGBV produces multiple harmful outcomes that undermine the health of democracy as a whole. For example, when women, girls and gender-diverse individuals withdraw from political participation to ensure their own security as a result of TFGBV, democracies are weakened by stymying diverse representation. When the intentional use of mis- and dis-information result in public doubt regarding women, girls and gender-diverse individuals as leaders and decision-makers, exclusionary structures of leadership and public decision-making are reinforced. When perpetrators deploy TFGBV to shape political and policy outcomes through violating women’s, girls’ and gender-diverse individuals’ rights, the protection of all rights enshrined by democracies are undermined.
This expert discussion covers the role of TFGBV in weakening democratic systems and closing democratic spaces, and actions that governments and other actors can take to strategically respond. Building on the foundation of gender-sensitive research that demonstrates the psychological, social, economic and often physical costs to survivors of TFGBV, this discussion amplifies the significant implications of TFGBV for democratic systems when used as a strategy to weaken democratic structures in countries worldwide. Panelists draw from recently published research and programming, and propose actions that governments and civil society can take to address TFGBV to re-invest in the health of democracies.
- Irene Mwendwa: Pollicy. Irene leads Pollicy's Strategic Initiatives and Feminist Movement Building with experience in human rights and social justice. She is an experienced partnerships professional with extensive experience with innovative collaborations across public, private and civil society sectors. Irene structures and executes projects that deliver better policies and legal frameworks on public policy issues such as elections and technology.
- Paulina Ibarra: Fundacion Multitudes. Paulina Ibarra is a Chilean development communications and advocacy expert with more than 20 years of professional experience. She leads the Women’s Observatory Against Disinformation that seeks to counter gendered political disinformation and its impact on women’s and girls’ political participation and democracy resilience, particularly in Latin America and the Caribbean.
- Kristina Wilfore: #ShePersisted co-founder and Global Democracy Advisor, Reset.tech. Kristina is a democracy activist and elections specialist who has worked hand-in-hand with hundreds of women around the world on their campaigns for higher office and to help break systemic barriers to political participation, and counter disinformation.
- Luna Safwan: IREX SAFE Project, MENA region. Luna is the regional physical security expert for the IREX SAFE project, and an experienced journalist who produces news stories, multimedia storytelling materials and feature stories. In her role as a journalist, she has written about gender-based violence.
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