As the world commemorated the International Women’s Day this week, the AFDB hosted a candid conversation themed on ‘Making The Internet A Safer Place For Women’, on the 8th of March 2016 at the Hotel Intercontinental, Nairobi.
The event brought together stakeholders from the donor community, private sector, government, civil society and academia. The panel discussion focused on development in the fast paced information age, and how gender violence in the cyber space manifests itself. Some possible solutions that can be implemented by both government, industry and households to protect women, and young children from abuse were also discussed.
AFDB East Africa Resource Centre launched a sensitization and capacity building program in partnership with Facebook targeting the Kenya Police and the Judiciary on Gender Based Cyber Violence, and disseminated a Policy Brief based on research conducted on Gender Based Cyber Violence in Kenya.
The 2016 theme for International Women’s Day, “Planet 50- 50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality” formed part of the discussions. It reflected on how to accelerate the 2030 Agenda, building momentum for the effective implementation of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDG number 5 seeks to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
In addition, a key target of the 2030 Agenda is to eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres. The celebrations focused on how technology and the internet can be a safer place so that more women can be able to fully utilize and harness the power of information and communication technologies for their own social and economic development.
ICT has the power to transform societies and accelerate human progress but this development is threatened by the emerging threat of cyber violence. As it stands, GBCV is evolving as a global problem with serious implications for societies and economies around the world. The statistics pose risks to the peace and prosperity for all enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, and, in particular, to the goals of inclusive, sustainable development that puts gender equality and the empowerment of women as key to its achievement.
During the discussions, Sitawa Wafula, a mental health activist shared her experience with cyber bullying that morning. She was on TV sharing her ordeal having survived a rape ordeal and her recovery. She received over 500 comments on social media, some nasty ones. One said that she smiled during her interview because she must have enjoyed the ordeal.
In the recent past, Kenya has witnessed gender based attacks on the cyber space platform, including social media, some of which has resulted into death, health challenges and court cases. This form of GBV has spared no one; women across the board have been affected, ranging from students, senior government officials, politicians, media and entertainment personalities.
You can follow the conversations of the day on Twitter under the hashtag #MakeITsafe