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Since the late 1960s, as the development of telecommunications and microprocessors with a greater capacity to produce, store, transmit and process data expanded, the challenges and areas of social concern also grew. Three decades later, it was believed that technology would allow everybody to participate in the global economy, leading to development. However, transnational feminist activist networks questioned this core assumption of the neoliberal agenda. They began to advocate gender mainstreaming in global communications policy to address structural inequalities shaping women's participation in the "Information Society".
The first challenge was to create space for policy discussions where communication and technology issues have historically been seen as purely technical and of interest only to policy makers, businesses and industry. On the other hand, civil society and non-profit actors were not even considered in the debates. Feminists, however, proposed a different approach: they criticised patriarchal society and neoliberal globalisation, the concentration of media ownership and the commodification of communication, the unequal access to telecommunications infrastructure, and the international division of labour and employment in the media, telecommunications and information technologies sectors. They highlighted barriers to access to relevant information and its effective use, gender-based violence at every stage of ICT development, and structural barriers to women's participation in technical careers and knowledge production. And they also fought for a place in decision-making structures designing global communication policies.
Most of these challenges remain relevant today and have further extended to new fields, such as cybersecurity, developed under the influence of national security debates with a strong military tradition. In the mainstream understanding of cybersecurity debates, states are responsible for "restoring control over the misuse of cyber technologies through a more coordinated and focused effort from the national and international society." Many problematic notions come into play in this approach. If we do not focus on analysing the conditions of production of cyber technologies, we might think that cybersecurity challenges are simply a matter of "misuse" that can be "corrected" later with some adjustments and agreements between "interested parties".
To contribute to this debate, APC developed the Framework for developing a gender-responsive cybersecurity policy to provide policy-making actors with a set of tools to mainstream gender in cybersecurity policies. This approach forces us to examine the foundations of cybersecurity policies. Principles as central as the idea of safety are not universal; on the contrary, they are "constantly sustained and elaborated by local socio-cultural practices that characterise who and what is considered 'safe' or 'unsafe'."
This edition of GenderIT.org focuses on the human dimension of cybersecurity. To do this, the editors asked themselves how cybersecurity policies developed from the centres of political, economic and epistemological power affect those at the margins; and how we can think about cybersecurity from a feminist perspective. They set out to find specific and contextualised examples of how cybersecurity directly affects the lives of different women and LGBTQIA+ people and diverse social groups around the world.
In this new edition you will find:
This edition of GenderIT.org was developed with support from the UK government.