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A feminist internet works towards empowering more women and queer persons – in all our diversities – to fully enjoy our rights, engage in pleasure and play, and dismantle patriarchy. This integrates our different realities, contexts and specificities including age, disabilities, sexualities, gender identities and expressions, socioeconomic locations, political and religious beliefs, ethnic origins, and racial markers.

- Preamble, Feminist Principles of the Internet


The Association for Progressive Communications Women's Rights Programme (APC WRP) invites you/your organisation to submit a research proposal as part of the Feminist Internet Research Network (FIRN). FIRN is a three-year project supported by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) that aims to facilitate the setting up of a feminist research network to undertake data-driven research on critical and emerging issues related to internet policy discussions and decision making.

1. Background

The FIRN project understands that the making of a feminist internet is critical to bring about transformation in gendered structures of power that exist online and on-ground. The objective is to ensure that the needs of women, gender diverse and queer people are taken into account in internet policy discussions and decision making. This is to be achieved through the setting up of a feminist internet research network where members can undertake data-driven research that provides substantial evidence to drive change in policy and law and in discourse around internet rights. The network will also be a space to facilitate exchange of learning and capacity building among the network members and practitioners in the field more broadly, including affected communities and activists, researchers, academics and tech developers, especially those who engage with issues on digital technology and human rights.

The FIRN network also aims to respond to several gaps in the field of gender and ICT research identified through a context-mapping process undertaken in 2017 – which included a survey, literature review, in-depth interviews with researchers in academia and advocacy, case studies and an expert review meeting. These gaps include: the lack of global South perspectives as well as integration of feminist scholarship in ICT-related research; the need to engage in context-specific analysis that takes into account intersectionality as well as power dynamics and structures; and the need to engage key actors from women's rights, sexual rights and feminist advocates and activists in policy advocacy and reform. The intention here is to learn about and build innovative feminist methodologies around the ecosystem and landscape of digitally networked technologies that impact and intersect on different dimensions of human life – including ethics, reflexivity, position, methodology, process and outcome of research and the politics of knowledge.

2. Research questions

The feminist approach certainly overlaps with gender-based analysis. The significant difference between them is that feminism is invested in the politics of change and transformation of structures around gender in particular. Hence, the purpose of this call is to comprehensively address existing power dynamics and structural inequalities, interconnecting internet rights and women's rights, addressing intersectional perspectives from the global South by incorporating a feminist scholarship. From this objective of realising and making a feminist internet, the overarching research questions for this proposal are:

1. What forms of discrimination do women, gender diverse and queer people face because of social, political, economic changes driven by digital technology and the internet?

2. What are the challenges and opportunities in policy, infrastructure and socio-cultural norms with regard to the making of a feminist internet?

The two research questions will be explored in depth in relation to four prioritised thematic areas for feminist research

  • Access

  • Online gender-based violence

  • Datafication

  • Economy and labour.

2.1 Additional resources

  • For more information on the key issues that resulted in the selection of these thematic areas, please refer to the synthesis of the mapping study that can be found here.

  • For a deeper understanding of the feminist internet, please refer to the Feminist Principles of the Internet (FPIs) that were collectively crafted by feminists and activists located in the global South.

  • Please refer to Appendix 1 for a more detailed outline of the areas identified for research projects within these four thematic areas, which emerged through the mapping study. Please note that applications are not limited to the specific questions outlined in the appendix. We recognise and value your knowledge and experience in the field, and welcome research questions and projects that go beyond the identified research questions within the thematic areas. However, research projects should fall within one or more of the four priority thematic areas identified.

3. Call for submissions process

The call for submission of research proposals is an open call to individuals and/or organisations with experience or prioritised interest in engaging with feminist research in the field. Individuals and/or organisations were identified through the mapping study process as well as through recommendations by IDRC and APC's network of members and allies. Priority has been given to researchers and/or organisations based in the global South.

For the purposes of transparency and accountability, the criteria for the selection of individuals/organisations invited to submit proposals are:

  • Established experience on feminist and/or internet-rights research in the field that integrates gender with an emerging interest/commitment to feminist research.

  • Regional or thematic priority, and the intersection between them, based on the mapping study.

  • Work with communities where research or knowledge on the area of gender, feminism and the internet is currently lacking.

  • A rough balance between individual researchers and research organisations/networks.

The research period is from March 2019 to Feb 2021, including data collection, analysis, writing, participation in events, and implementation of communications and advocacy strategies. The research budget is between USD 20,000 and USD 50,000 per project, which includes all costs related to the research for its entire duration. Please note that we can only select a maximum of two research projects with a budget of USD 50,000, to allow for larger quantitative data-driven research projects.

4. Eligibility

We will accept applications from individuals and organisations. You can also apply as a research team. All applications should identify a lead researcher and host institution. Any type of legal entity, including universities, research centres and civil society organisations can host the lead researcher. The lead researcher does not necessarily need to be working at the host institution at the time when the proposal is submitted. However, a mutual agreement and the host institution’s commitment on how the relationship will be established are necessary to be included as part of the brief.

Representatives from the research teams are expected to participate in at least three research-related workshops. The first workshop will be held by end of February 2019.

The deadline for applications is 20 November 2018. For any questions about the application process, please email (with the subject line "Query on research brief 2018").

5. Applications should include

* Please use the application template to include all information needed

  1. Concept note for the proposed research (not more than five pages), including:

    1. Thematic area

    2. Brief context/rationale

    3. Main research question/objective and proposed methodology. Please indicate what is the feminist theoretical framework and methodology that is proposed in the implementation of the research project, including data collection and analysis.

    4. Community of engagement. Please locate your/your organisation’s positionality in relation to the prioritised community.

    5. Ethical considerations

    6. Proposed research outputs and ways of engagement with findings (please also include priority stakeholders)

    7. Research team members

    8. Proposed budget.

  2. Curriculum vitae of lead researcher and research team members with relevant experience and skills, including previous research projects and related networks they are affiliated or connected with.

  3. Letter of interest (profiling area of work that has been done with civil society as policy advocate, researcher, activist, etc. by the organisation/individual)

  4. Most recent/most relevant research undertaken in relation to gender and technology. Please include a URL linking to the study or an attachment if it has not been published online.

NOTE: In order to prepare your research brief, please use the sample template provided here that contains all the information required in the application. Please note that applications will only be accepted through the online portal, which can be accessed here. For the budget, please use the budget template provided here.

6. Selection process and criteria

The FIRN network aims to support the implementation of eight to 12 research projects to be completed within two years. Selection will be made in consultation with a group of peer network advisors made up of six individuals who have different experience, knowledge and expertise in the field, based on the following criteria:

  • Relevance to the thematic priority and project aims, in particular, to meet knowledge gaps.

  • Integration of feminist research methodology and theory. We welcome innovative approaches in this respect, particularly on feminist digital research methodology and theory.

  • Integration of a feminist and intersectional approach.

  • Potential impact on and contribution to the realisation of a feminist internet and policy advocacy from the specific area of the research.

  • Feasibility.

  • Regional, thematic and methodological balance.

7. Expected key deadlines until February 2019:
  • 20 November 2018: Submission of research brief

  • 15 January 2019: Announcement of eight to 12 research subgrants

  • End of February: First meetings combined with submission of first draft of full research proposal by the selected research teams/researchers and research hackathon (exact dates to be confirmed)

  • Mid-March 2019: Submission of final research proposal

  • End of March 2019: Start of the supported research projects.

8. About APC WRP

The Association for Progressive Communications Women’s Rights Programme (APC WRP) collectively works with actors who are primarily feminist activists or organisations working in different capacities on digital rights, sexual rights and/or women's rights. Some of our ongoing initiatives are the Feminist Principles of the Internet (FPIs), Take Back The Tech! (TBTT), Exploratory Research on Sexuality and the Internet (EROTICS), Feminist Tech eXchange (FTX) and These diverse but intersecting feminist initiatives collectively create a kind of a "home" for a shared political language and framework of analysis to engage and unpack emerging issues in an increasingly digitally interconnected landscape for transformative justice.

APC intervenes on a broad range of rights, from civil and political rights to economic, social and cultural rights, as they relate to information and communications technologies (ICTs). APC WRP integrates a feminist analysis and women's and sexual rights perspective to this work. We address these issues from a global South viewpoint through a range of interrelated core strategies: knowledge building and research, capacity building, policy advocacy and movement building.

We work with individuals, organisations and networks engaged in women’s rights, sexual rights and internet rights issues, to bridge the gap between the work of different movements, and to centre the perspectives and priorities of feminist and women's movements. Importantly, we prioritise collaborative work that is led by actors in the global “South”. We believe that contextualised and impactful feminist work produces knowledge that is grounded in and amplifies the lived experiences of diverse women, trans, and gender non-conforming and queer persons. This in itself is an important rupturing of power dynamics in the field of digital rights, as well as in movement organising as a whole. The FIRN project forms a critical component of our current knowledge-building strategy.

Thank you!

We thank you hugely for your consideration, and should you accept the invitation, for your labour involved in the submission process. We greatly value your work, and hope that some level of engagement with the FIRN project will be possible regardless of the outcome.