October 21, 2019

SheConnects: Exploring the gender positive digital experience

The Internet is an open platform that is owned by no one, but belongs to everyone. However, it’s constantly seen to be restricted on certain groups or individuals, and among the reasons digital gender divide is one of the most crucial. In Pakistan, this digital divide is layered and depends on various factors, including but not limited to, economic, social, religious, and gendered.

Where women are striving to be the equal part of economy in the country, the restrictions on their access to internet and digital platforms bars them from accessing their basic right to information through online media.

This vodcast series titled “SheConnects: Exploring the gender positive digital experience” by the Media Matters for Democracy (MMFD) aims to address the issues that hinder gender minorities’ freedom on the digital platforms, and envisions an internet that doesn’t benefit a specific group, instead is open for all in its true form.

Episode 1

Episode 2:

Online content is restricted in ways that deepens the digital gender divide. This divide stands in the way of Internet users getting access to information online; information about them, and the world around them.

In the second episode of the SheConnects Vodcast series, we talk about envisioning an Internet where information is accessible and open across all genders.

Episode 3:

Women in Pakistan’s tech industry have to struggle to be heard or seen in a field dominated mostly by men. Pakistani #womenintech are often discriminated for their gender, and they are discouraged from pursuing roles in the field.

In the third episode of our #SheConnects Vodcast series, we talk about envisioning an Internet where gender minorities are welcome to create and develop upon new ideas, and where they are recognised for their contributions.

Episode 4:

The Internet can be a platform to form and shape movements; movements where the marginalised in the society can stand up and question norms, movements that break the silence and propel change. However, the organising of these groups, especially women, can have serious repercussions when it leads to gender-based online violence.

In the fourth episode of our #SheConnects Vodcast series, we envision an Internet where discourse can lead to movements that are safe for everyone, and where gender minorities are not bullied or threatened when they organise.

Episode 5:

Women in Pakistan are often excluded from decision making processes at the government level. This holds the government back from making policies that are friendly for gender minorities.

In the fifth episode of the #SheConnects Vodcast series, we talk about the importance of female and other gender minorities representation in governance. A regular Internet user’s experience will be improved if people like them are in charge of devising policy.

Episode 6:

In a world where women’s experiences and stories are stifled and silenced, support from her female and male allies can help amplify her voice in online spaces.

In the 6th episode of our #SheConnects Vodcast series, we talk about an Internet where users not only make space for stories from gender minorities, but also amplify their voice and narrative. We envision an Internet which gives a voice to those who have been silenced.

Episode 7:

Data protection policies are often too complicated for an average Internet user to understand. When data is leaked, it can have serious consequences for people, especially if these people are marginalized in their communities such as gender minorities in Pakistan.

In the 7th episode of our #SheConnects Vodcast series, we talk about an Internet where the user is informed about how their information is protected, and is empowered enough to demand stringent data protection policies.

Episode 8:

As we push for more reforms around #dataprotection in Pakistan as part of our campaign #PrivacyHumSabKe, we thought it’s crucial to talk about the effects of privacy invasion on vulnerable sections of our society. Women in Pakistan face constant surveillance; tabs are kept on who they speak to, who they meet and what they wear. If this same sort of moral policing and surveillance follows women in online spaces, the Internet will no longer be a safe place for them.

In the 8th episode of our #SheConnects Vodcast series, we discuss the issue of surveillance and why data protection and privacy is important. The privacy of women and other minority groups must be guaranteed to make the Internet a safe and inclusive space.

Episode 9:

In countries like Pakistan, women are finding the anonymity provided by online spaces empowering. This is because, in many areas of the country, women’s use of the Internet and mobile phones is restricted or monitored. By choosing to remain anonymous, women are able to share their stories and experiences in closed groups and blogs.

The Internet we envision grants women this anonymity, so they can continue to navigate online spaces. Watch our 9th episode of the #SheConnects Vodcast series to hear MMfD Program Manager Hija Kamran talk on anonymity and making the Internet a safer place for gender minorities.

Episode 10

Gender-based violence has followed women in the online spaces. Women who share their emotions, their opinions, or simply glimpses of their life are routinely trolled and bullied on social media. The abuse often leads to women censoring themselves online.

In the last episode of the #SheConnects vodcast series where we talked about an ideal Internet, we talk about creating an online space where women do not have to fear trolls; where they can debate and create movements without having their bodies and personal lives mocked. We want the Internet to tell women: you belong, you are enough, and your opinion matters.

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