Research and campaign grants in 2021

These grants are for research and campaign activities that are linked to APC’s strategic advocacy areas. They can be used for research and advocacy around internet access and rights, as well as activities that build civil society capacity to participate in internet governance. These grants support local campaigns that contribute to members’ advocacy work and are also meant to enable members to participate in APC-wide campaigns.

List of projects implemented in 2021:

Summaries of selected research and campaign grants (2021)
Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) - Adapting Maarifa Centres to meet community needs during COVID-19 pandemic

In the last two decades, ALIN has championed bridging of the "digital divide" in various initiatives to ensure that remote communities have access to digital tools for social inclusion and are able to use these tools to meet specific needs such as livelihoods, civic engagement and education, among others. In line with this, ALIN started communities of practice (COP) known as Maarifa Centres. Maarifa Centres are public spaces that offer digital tools such as computers, internet and library services, among others.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and related social distancing protocols has changed the dynamics on which this model was based, leaving gaps that needed to be addressed in order to continue to empower the community members to use and shape online technologies to meaningfully and safely access digital resources and spaces within these centres. ALIN proposes to address these gaps through a study of how the Maarifa Centres can adapt to COVID-19 and in the longer term how they can continue to work towards empowering communities to use and shape online technologies to meaningfully and safely access digital resources and spaces.

AZUR - Take Back the Tech! local awareness campaign

This project will make it possible to carry out the Take Back the Tech! campaign in Congo, to denounce gender-based violence, amplify the voices of survivors of violence, and raise public awareness on gender-based violence using traditional and technological media.

It aims to mobilise young girls and boys and survivors of violence to denounce violence on the internet by participating in photo challenges and messages on the fight against gender-based violence; and to refer women and girls who are victims of violence online and offline to four one-stop centres for assistance to women and girls survivors of gender-based violence.

Bytesforall Bangladesh - The rising trend of gender-based online violence in Bangladesh during the pandemic: How to address it?

Bangladesh has more than 120 million internet subscribers, which is around 71% of the total population. The growth of internet penetration and bandwidth redundancy have expanded social media access and usage in the country. But as the internet user base grows, issues of online security and violence emerge.

Online violence may be a bigger term and it may include cyber stalking, cyber harassment, cyber defamation, cyber bullying, cyber blackmailing, e-mail harassment, email/profile hacking, non-consensual sharing of intimate images (so-called "revenge porn"), internet voyeurism, and intimate partner violence through the internet, among others, as well as abetment of such offences. This trend is growing during COVID-19, as users are staying at home and are using the internet for various purposes including education. 

This project proposes to continue to build on the existing work that Bytesforall Bangladesh has done in 2019 and see how gender-based online violence has evolved during this time of pandemic, when users are mostly indoors and are extensively using the internet for various purposes.

CITAD - Capacity building for women journalists on safety and privacy online

Women journalists face serious challenges as they try to engage in their different fields. Often they face blackmail to silence their voices as journalists. With the increasing use of online tools as important instruments for the practice of journalism, the online vulnerability of practitioners has increased. This threat is even more serious as a number of female journalists have become subject to privacy invasion.

With the government clampdown on social media, journalists are forced to look for ways to bypass blockage. Enhancing the capacity of women journalists to safely use the internet will thus contribute to bridging the gender digital divide. When they are more able to safely use the internet, they will inspire confidence in women politicians – who are also victims of negative use of social media – to use the internet. Thus, the project will also contribute to promoting political inclusion of women, as as it will enable them to make more effective use of online tools for campaigning.

Additionally, building the capacity of female journalists to safely use the internet will preserve the voice of women in the journalistic realm. It is therefore imperative that their capacity is built on safety and privacy online.

Colnodo - Take Back the Tech! campaign 2021: Building capacities for self-care and agency in the prevention of digital risks and violence on the internet

This project is about promoting protection and self-care actions, generating critical reflections and fostering creative and collaborative spaces for the prevention of violence in digital spaces, the recognition of risks in social networks, the appropriation of safe practices on the internet, and the dissemination of internet rights, especially among groups of women and young people.

Women's collectives and networks, of which Colnodo is a member, were invited to join the campaign in order to spread the message about self-care in the use and appropriation of ICTs.

Digital Empowerment Foundation - "Community Network for Social Good" campaign during the 5th Community Network Xchange Asia Pacific 2021

This project is an event-related campaign activity at the Asia-Pacific regional level on "Community Network for Social Good", carried out during the 5th Community Network Xchange (CNX), held 15-23 November 2021. CNX is a multistakeholder online event and details are available here.

Getting online remains a challenge for billions across the globe. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic led to an inevitable surge in the use of digital technologies due to nationwide lockdowns. People and organisations all over the world adjusted to the "new normal" – with meetings going completely online and office work shifting to the home. At the same time, many rural and low-income communities around the world lacked reliable and affordable access. Wireless access rapidly became a basic need rather than a "nice to have". The lack of affordable access was an issue as it prevented people from having access to a range of digital services – from public health and information to education.

With this in mind, the theme for CNX 2021 is “Community Network for Social Good”. Within this overall theme, session sub-themes will reflect on the importance of community networks in accelerating reach and providing help to communities to respond to COVID-19 and also to benefit from digital opportunities. It will also explore the experiences and challenges faced by community networks during the pandemic, including large-scale misuse and misinformation and challenges to access the right information online as a digital right.

Fantsuam Foundation - Restoring ICT capacity lost during the pandemic

Various documentations of the national and international consequences of COVID-19 since it was declared a pandemic on 11 March 2020 have been done by counting, measuring and quantification. This method of measuring the consequences of the virus is the standard used for governmental and public discourse. Through the processes of enumerating and comparing cases and locations, diffusion rates, victims, and the occupancy of intensive care units, policy makers and experts have created a new and data-driven narrative. Such data-driven narratives inevitably lead to exclusion of rural communities, low-income families, workers in the informal economy and many communities at the margins such as the growing numbers of victims of domestic and gender-based violence.

Such disempowered people are denied a voice in the narrative because of their data poverty. Resource allocation to combat the pandemic are determined by what data is collected and by who. This proposal seeks to begin to address this challenge of "data poverty" by building the capacities of the Fantsuam ICT Academy instructors, a neighbouring community network, and teachers at a local secondary school.

Fundación Escuela Latinoamericana de Redes (EsLaRed) - Orientation campaign on the use of open technologies in education in times of COVID-19 in Venezuela

The emergency situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, decreed in March 2020 by the World Health Organization (WHO), led countries worldwide to establish a series of contingency measures in different sectors of society, in order to guarantee the integrity and health of citizens. In particular, the education sector has been affected by the fact that face-to-face activities in educational institutions were suspended, leading them to generate remote solutions that allow educators to continue with academic activities.

Faced with this scenario, using open technologies in education represents a fundamental element to promote remote education also in emergency situations, which has become a challenge for countries whose educational institutions do not have the necessary technological infrastructure or human resources with the required digital skills. That is why this project proposes to establish orientation mechanisms for teachers, students and directorial and administrative staff of educational institutions on the incorporation, appropriation and use of open technologies in educational processes, through a campaign that promotes learning online, management of open educational resources, collaborative work, intelligent interaction with students, and access to knowledge repositories, among others. In this way, teachers and students will have the knowledge that will allow them to carry out remote educational processes in a more efficient way.

Intervozes - Strategic planning for the campaign "Tem Boi na Linha" ("An intruder is on the line")

After president Bolsonaro's vetoes were overridden by the Brazilian Congress, in March 2021, Law No. 14,109 was enacted, addressing the purpose, allocation of resources, administration and objectives of the Telecommunication Services Universalisation Fund (FUST). Though regarded as a landmark, the enactment has been raising concerns from different sectors of society. Instituto Telecom, an entity dedicated to research and studies on telecommunications, issued a statement predicting the allocation of a great part of FUST resources to big entrepreneurs in agribusiness and telecommunications, at the expense of public schools and less-favoured populations.

Guidelines concerning the allocation of resources caused unease among sectors that fight for digital rights. The regulation that will determine the composition of the Fund's Management Board – which sets the priorities for allocation of resources – is about to be issued. Social pressure and political influence upon this Board is what ultimately will define who is going to have the right to access quality internet in Brazil.

The aim of this project is to design a high-impact campaign which will raise awareness among target audiences – including digital influencers, opinion makers, political entities and FUST managers – of the urgency and importance of internet access for Brazilian traditional and rural communities.

Pangea - Your TECH choices make a difference

Regarding the project "How do you TECH at your organisation?" we’ve identified the need to better explain and expand on key practices and concepts related with internet services to our community in order to improve their knowledge and consequently their capacity to critically decide and choose which technologies are more ethical and sustainable to use.

The project aims to continue shortening the distance between transformative organisations and ethical technologies, through the development, publication and dissemination of educational and practical materials on critical decisions in the consumption and use of information and communications technologies.

PROTEGE QV - Promoting freedom of expression and gender equality by training women media workers on online safety

This two days training in hybrid format (physical and virtual) aims to provide 20 women media workers with the knowledge and skills they need to stay safe in online environments, be it on the internet, social media, smartphones, tablets and other connected devices.

The training will cover different areas of online risks by addressing the following key topics: safeguarding personal information and privacy online; the practice of safe browsing; securing internet connections and devices; being careful with downloads; choosing and managing strong passwords; understanding the most common attacks and how to deal with them; and what to do in case of the loss of a device or data.

Rudi International - Evaluation of the DRC’s annual conference on digital rights (HakiConf)

In 2018, Rudi International hosted the inaugural edition of the Haki Conference (HakiConf), which is the only and largest conference on human rights in the digital age in the DRC (and arguably, in Francophone Africa). This conference was renewed in 2019 and 2021 with subsequent editions (the 2020 edition was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic).

This conference attracts an average of 400 in-person participants for every edition and has been able to bring together different stakeholders including policy makers (such as members of parliament and a government minister), civil society leaders (such as directors from top Congolese NGOs), lawyers, journalists and human rights activists for meaningful conversations around digital rights in the DRC and the region.

The conference has been attended by participants from different countries in Africa, including attendees from West Africa (Ghana, Senegal) and Central and East Africa (Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi), giving them the opportunity to share best practices on advocacy activities for internet freedom-friendly states. The project we are planning is an evaluation of the impact that the HakiConf has had since its inception in order to inform its future.

TEDIC - "Mente en Línea" (Online Mind) for parents

With this grant we aim to develop a practical guide on mental health on the internet for parents. The goal is to develop tools for parents to guide their children in their internet habits with a gender and health care perspective. The development of the guide will be carried out by TEDIC alongside the Ministry of Health of Paraguay, health and childhood professionals, the parents' commission of a public school, and the NGO Enfoque Niñez.

It will be launched through the platform of the mental health campaign carried out by TEDIC and the Ministry of Health: Mente en Línea. This project is a continuation of the Mente en Línea initiative developed in partnership with the Paraguayan Ministry of Health, which has had a great impact on social media in Paraguay, and attracted a lot of attention from international organisations and media outlets.

VOICE - Promote and protect women's rights through advocacy and generating research-based evidence on violence against women during COVID-19

During COVID-19 especially since the lockdown, gender-based violence and domestic violence rose sharply. A total of 907 women or girls were raped in the first nine months of 2020 alone . A total of 632 rape incidents took place between April and August 2020; on average, 40 women have been raped daily during the pandemic. Among the victims, a large number were domestic workers or "house-helpers".

In this context, VOICE would like to conduct a survey on two categories of domestic workers (both resident and non-resident domestic helpers), focusing on exploring the gender-based violence they experienced. It will also explore the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their health (including access to vaccination). The data generated from the survey will be used to publish reports and infographics that will be used in advocacy during the 16-day campaign against gender-based violence, online and offline.

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