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The problem

The content, language and knowledge of the internet and digital technologies continue to be dominated by white, male, private and global North interests, deepening the colonisation of knowledge in the offline world. The belief that the internet could create a truly inclusive global public knowledge commons is disappearing as digital spaces have themselves become battlegrounds for struggles over power and narratives.

Digital spaces are increasingly powered by hate and discrimination that target women, LGBTIQ communities, religious minorities, migrants, people with disabilities and other people and groups that are in positions of vulnerability or marginalisation. This includes new manifestations of gender-based violence mediated by digital technologies.

Women and people of diverse sexualities and genders experience the backlash against gains made towards gender equality most acutely. Threats to feminist organising online and offline are expanding and taking new forms, enabling violations by a range of actors, including states, fundamentalist religious structures and private corporations, who increasingly find common purpose in narrowing notions of morality, family and “equality”. 

These threats often manifest as targeted gender-based violence (GBV) online, intimately linked to offline spaces, and the twin roles of censorship and gendered surveillance that facilitate this violence. Alongside this, increased data gathering and datafication impact unevenly on the autonomy, privacy and livelihoods of women and people of diverse sexualities and genders. Stereotypes linked to gender, race, caste and ability are embedded into technology and data-dependent processes and algorithms. This data is used in profiling by companies and governments, raising questions of privacy and decreased autonomy, especially for those marginalised on account of sexuality, gender or other categories. Also troubling is that even as forms of labour and work change in the digital age, work that is gendered or feminised continues to be devalued.

The collaboratively developed Feminist Principles of the Internet (FPIs) is the framework that underpins APC’s work on feminism, women’s rights, sexuality and technology. The feminist internet we work towards is one in which women and people and diverse sexualities and genders are able to access and enjoy a free and open internet to exercise agency and autonomy, build collective power, strengthen movements, and transform power relations for gender and sexual justice. To achieve this, we must interrogate how the systems of oppression such as sexism, racism, casteism, ableism and compulsory heterosexuality intersect and impact people.

The change we are working towards

  • Ideas, skills, processes and spaces for collective organising and strategising towards a feminist and sustainable internet are created and nurtured.
  • Internet policy discussions and decision making integrate and reflect the perspectives of women and people of diverse sexualities and genders.
  • Increased financial resources and diversity of actors for a feminist internet, including those working on feminist technology development. 

Our role in this change

APC’s Women’s Rights Programme (WRP) works to strengthen the capacity of diverse women’s movements to have the confidence, skills and resources to influence the usage, development and decision-making of the internet. This is so that they are able to engage with it as a political space to challenge discriminatory norms, structures and practices, amplify their work for women’s rights and gender justice and respond to the barriers, that prevent them from benefiting from information and communication technologies (ICTs). Our work stems from recognition of the enormous potential of ICTs to strengthen social, political, cultural and economic development, and to advance the human rights of women and girls. WRP is uniquely located within both the internet rights and women's rights movements.