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From 2016 to 2019, we worked for civil society actors, women’s rights and sexual rights advocates to have the capacity to confidently use the internet and ICTs, and to engage critically in their development. How far did we get? Check it out!
Fostered use of sustainable collaborative and privacy-enabling technology
Over the four years, we seeded sustainable, collaborative and privacy-enabling open source technology solutions among our members and project partners.
APC’s subgranting programmes made possible innovative and sustainable technology solutions implemented by our members and partners. Through APC Labs, our incubator for technical innovation, the “Connecting the unconnected” project funded collaborations between software developers and the development and distribution of low-cost wireless LibreRouters to community networks. In 2019 alone, APC Labs subgrants supplemented 11 catalytic pathfinder grants and provided additional support to three more initiatives. Projects implemented by our members through subgrant support included the Abya Yala Community Network Seedbed (in Argentina and Mexico), Digital Territories (in Argentina), and Barefoot Wireless Women-Connecting the Unconnected (in India).
Members were also active on the ground in rural areas. For example, in Kenya, the Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) set up an award-winning digital farm records system to help 16,000 farmers develop complete documentation of their farming activities and outcomes, and the Computer Aid Kenya office established the Malezi Community Digital Hub in one of the most vulnerable communities in the country. In India, the Digital Empowerment Foundation developed a digital and media information literacy (MIL) toolkit, designed for first-generation technology users.
While Pangea piloted a project focused on the re-use of technology in Spain, Nodo TAU set up an e-waste recycling workshop in Argentina, and Sulá Batsú worked with young rural women in Costa Rica on environmentally sustainable technology.
While a new digital security school, l’École de sécurité numérique, was launched by Alternatives in Quebec, our member eQualit.ie released the world’s first free/libre end-to-end secure, synchronous protocol for group chat, (n+1)sec. APC members are also part of the InfraRed partnership, where we promote alternative online infrastructures that are safe and that allow users to collaborate online without their data being mined and sold.
We also built the capacity of organisations to conduct digital security training workshops on their own, and developed the tools to support them in this work.
A key strategy of APC is to build local and sustainable capacity to respond to the growing demand for digital security training. Our Digital Security First Aid Kit for Human Rights Defenders, now in its second edition, was updated in 2016 and was used by our partners for training in India, Pakistan and Malaysia, as part of the Advocacy for Change through Technology in India, Malaysia and Pakistan (IMPACT) project.
Over the four years we increased our use of FLOSS for internal processes.
APC has now migrated nearly all its online services to free/libre and open source software (FLOSS) platforms and developed an internal policy on the use and promotion of FLOSS tools, and all team members comply with bottom-line security standards based on open source technology. Our security practices include all staff using PGP, the use of encrypted mailing lists, and improved security backup strategies for servers.
Increased safety of human rights defenders and use of technology to end violence against women
Our work increased the online safety of feminist activists working across the world.
Hundreds of journalists, bloggers, teen girls, feminists and other human rights defenders are now safer online because of APC's digital security training interventions. Members trained teenage girls to code in Bosnia and Herzegovina (One World Platform), and held hackathons for women in Costa Rica (Sulá Batsú), and we held our own capacity-building workshops for gender and sexual rights activists. Our work against online gender-based violence has resulted in a growing number of requests for digital security training from a feminist perspective. Over the four years we held training workshops in Nepal, Sri Lanka, India, Turkey, Mexico and Ecuador, among other countries.
We developed a training curriculum to build the confidence of feminist activists to work safely online.
Besides the Digital Security First Aid Kit, our Women's Rights Programme collaboratively developed what we call the FTX: Safety Reboot curriculum as part of our Feminist Tech Exchange (FTX) methodology that encourages the feminist appropriation of technology. The curriculum has become an important tool to help communities share knowledge and values around representation and expression, and to build confidence and skills to be safe and effective in online spaces.
The curriculum was developed through a series of workshops with feminists and sexual rights activists across the world, including in Kenya, Spain, Nepal, Mexico and South Africa. It has five modules to date, with two more planned for publication in 2020. The FTX platform has also been redesigned. Modules explore areas such as online gender-based violence, risk assessment, mobile safety and the feminist practice and principles of the internet. It is a “living” curriculum, and the modules can be adapted, refined and localised for training in different contexts. These modules were used at workshops in eight countries, and around 60 women human rights defenders, lawyers, and sexual rights and LGBTIQ activists learned to protect themselves online as a result.
The capacity of feminist digital security trainers was also built through our FTX Convenings.
What we call “FTX Convenings” are safe spaces where digital trainers can meet and share their experiences of using, adapting and localising the FTX: Safety Reboot training curriculum modules. It is a way to build self-awareness and self-confidence for trainers and facilitators, to understand their frustrations, strategies and needs, and to collaboratively explore how to respond as trainers to the multitude of challenges faced by organisations on the front lines fighting for women's and sexual rights. Over the four year period, 107 trainers were trained in this way through small grants.
Promoted cross-movement exchanges across the wider APC community
APC built the capacity of activists to tell their stories in a meaningful way online.
This was done through training activists in digital storytelling, another core capacity-building methodology used by APC. Digital storytelling is an important tool for digital activism, whether it is used to combat online violence against women, by people living with disabilities, or to help transgendered people tell their stories. APC continued to host digital storytelling workshops over the four years, including through its project Building EROTICS Networks in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka on sexuality and the internet in 2017 and again in 2019. We also conducted digital storytelling workshops as part of our feminist approach to the use of free/libre and open source technology and for the promotion of Creative Commons licensing. To support our work, in 2016 we launched a new digital storytelling platform, which features a collection of stories from workshops we have been involved with over the years, as well as resources and information on our digital storytelling methodology.
We are currently developing a storytelling module for trainers which embeds digital safety in storytelling and builds on our work with digital storytelling started in 2007 and responds to a deep interest from the APC community and our partners and allies in storytelling as a methodology.
Through Disco-tech events we encouraged the exchange of practical experiences between stakeholders, and created the opportunity for networking and new partnerships.
A different kind of storytelling happens at our popular Disco-tech side event at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) each year. Disco-tech is an evening of fun, food and listening to short, practical presentations from a range of stakeholders about their work on a topic important to internet access and rights. It is an informal peer-learning event designed to bridge the gap between technical and political solutions on issues related to internet rights and freedoms. Over the four years, Disco-tech focused on topics such as internet shutdowns in Africa (at a special Disco-tech event held before RightsCon Tunis in 2019), the environmental impact of ICTs (at the 2019 IGF), disability and accessibility to the internet (2018), criminalisation of technical expertise (2017) and community networks (2016).