The Feminist Internet Research Network (FIRN) seeks to intentionally work towards feminist knowledge, shifting the ways we do technology research. With some of our network partners ready to share their findings, and others at the halfway point in the data analysis stage, we wonder: What's next? How does research play a role in advocacy spaces? How do we work towards the change we want to see by influencing policy? What is or should be a feminist approach to policy advocacy and policy shifts, specifically coming from the global South?
The open webinar “Policy reform: Working towards feminist transformation and change” was held on 22 June as part of the second FIRN (online) convening. A panel of speakers from different regions and backgrounds shared thoughts, experiences and stories around internet policy advocacy. They are: Mariana Valente (InternetLab, Brazil), Marwa Azelmat (APC’s Women Rights Programme), Helani Galpaya (LIRNEasia), Anita Gurumurthy (IT for Change) and Anriette Esterhuysen (chair of the United Nations' global Internet Governance Forum's Multistakeholder Advisory Group). The webinar was moderated by Chenai Chair (tech policy researcher).
We would like to especially recognise the work of our documenters, Liy Dizzy and Sonaksha Iyengar, for making the textual and graphic records that allowed us to create this synthesis article.
A feminist approach to policy changes
FIRN has the long-term goal to inform and influence feminist activism and ICT policy making. Ours isn’t only a research agenda. It is a feminist knowledge-building strategy looking at global South realities to fill the gaps between research and policy making. What FIRN intentionally seeks is to go beyond research to impact on policy and advocacy.
Why is this important? As Helani Galpaya remarked in her talk, we need to impact policy capacities to build institutional transformations and change policy infrastructure: “One type of policy change is to change policy by improving and broadening policy capacities. That is, to change the people acting upon policy, the policy makers themselves, so you don't have to bang their door down 10 times saying ‘This is bad, this is not feminist,’ but they have awareness before they make policy, and this doesn't depend on civil society retrospectively acting. It's about building institutions, but that's hard.”
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