Women’s rights and threats to online freedom: reflections from the Freedom Online Conference 17 to 18 June 2013

Author's name: 
Françoise Mukuku
DRC

From 17 to 18 June 2013 I took part in the conference on online freedom known as Freedom Online. This conference, carrying the same name of the coalition behind it, highlighted the continent in which it was hosted. In the midst of the international storm about surveillance and censorship, our specific focus was online freedom in Africa and the Arab world as Tunisia, like all of the Maghreb, has one foot in both worlds.

During this conference, the representative of the US NSA/Prism programme received tonnes of questions about its operating methods. Although tainted by the recent wiretapping affair both in the USA and internationally, the bureaucrat tried politely, but I imagine stoically, to keep calm in front of pirate party members, hackers and sympathisers of Wikileaks and other cyber-revolutions. I asked myself what made Tunisia, one of the countries in the coalition, the third African and first Arab country to have joined.

Loyal to my tradition of social reporting (I send real-time tweets and Facebook messages to ensure inclusion of my compatriots and colleagues in the meetings I am attending), I wrote on Twitter: “in a country where you are arrested for singing and beaten for wearing a miniskirt, can you really talk about online freedom?”

Read the full Feminist Talk in GenderIT.org .

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