At a meeting of the UNA Women's Advisory Council (WACUNA) on 15 July, Katharina Jens gave a talk entitled 'Digital feminism 2015 and beyond - how global online technology is empowering a new generation'.
She showed how useful the internet is to feminists, allowing women’s voices to be heard for free by many, wherever they live. Women have joined together online to successfully remove racist advertisements, for example.
However some women have been targeted and have been sent hate mail, sometimes 50 per hour, containing threats of death, rape, even bombing. Targeted women may suffer depression, be unable to sleep, eat, or go out of their houses, and may even have to move home. Governments find it difficult to track down the culprits. Those managing Twitter, and other social media channels, want to encourage user activity, so they are not inclined to introduce restructions.
Katharina said that the use of the internet is important for women and that harassment reports must be taken seriously. We need to re-evaluate social norms and work to tackle outdated views of what women can do or say. Feminists need to use the internet, but we also need to use wider methods - protests, demonstration, rallies etc. - to work towards gender equality.
To find out more about Katharina’s research work, go to www.GenderIT.org
Katharina belongs to one of the best practice forums (BPF) of the UN Internet Governance Forum (IGF). You can visit the IGF, join their mailing list or visit the BPF’s platform on the IGF’s website.
Katharina was thanked for her informative and interesting talk, and wished well in her feminist efforts.
Mrs Sally Spear