As with most spaces women occupy, there will always be a barrage of misogynistic men intent on preserving the patriarchal status quo. The internet and more so, social media space has not been spared. We have written previously on the growing cases of Gender Based Cyber violence in Kenya as more and more women use social media tools to express themselves, communicate & stay in touch with friends and family.
This year’s International Women’s Day marked worldwide on 8th March, the AfDB East Africa Resource Centre will host a candid conversation themed ‘Making the Internet a Safer Place for Women’. The celebrations will focus on how technology and the internet can be a safer place so that more women can be able to fully utilize and harness the power of information and communication technologies for their own social and economic advancement.
The event will bring together stakeholders from the government, donor community, private sector, civil society and academia. The panel discussion will specifically look at development in the fast paced information age, and how gender violence in the cyber space manifests itself. It will also pull some possible solutions that can be implemented by both government, industry and households to protect women, and young children from abuse. On the said date, the Bank will also launch a sensitization and capacity building program in partnership with Facebook targeting the Kenya Police and the Judiciary on Gender Based Cyber Violence. Ultimately, we will disseminate a Policy Brief based on research conducted on Gender Based Cyber Violence in Kenya.
It is important to create awareness on social media around this topic to get sentiments from Kenyans online and the wider East African community on this topic. You may follow this discussion and contribute your thoughts using the hashtags, #MakeITsafe and #IWD2016
The overall objective of the International Women’s Day is for the AFDB to join the United Nations and the rest of the world to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women. The 2016 theme for International Women’s Day is
“Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality”.
The United Nations observance on 8 March will reflect on how to accelerate the 2030 Agenda, building momentum for the effective implementation of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDG number 5 seeks to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. In addition, a key target of the 2030 Agenda is to eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres.
The celebrations at the AFDB EARC will focus on how technology and the internet can be a safer place so that more women can be able to fully utilize and harness the power of information and communication technologies for their own social and economic development.
ICT has the power to transform societies and accelerate human progress but this development is threatened by the emerging threat of cyber violence. As it stands, GBCV is evolving as a global problem with serious implications for societies and economies around the world. The statistics pose risks to the peace and prosperity for all enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, and, in particular, to the goals of inclusive, sustainable development that puts gender equality and the empowerment of women as key to its achievement.
Cyber Based Gender Violence
With the advent of the “global village”, largely attributed to the increased use of information communication technologies (ICTs), violence has morphed into various forms.
Despite the ubiquity of this problem, in many countries, women are often reluctant to report their victimization. A minority of the people are aware of how they may protect themselves while online. Compounding the problem is the fact that in many African countries and particularly so in Kenya, police are ill equipped to handle cases of tech based gender violence. Cyber-crimes also present the challenge of working in a borderless environment with laws of multiple jurisdictions. Of these four challenges, the most urgent is ensuring adequate analytical and technical capabilities for law enforcement agencies. The other three areas are being addressed, but even if their progress lagged, they could be remedied. But without technical resources and expertise for law enforcement, the remaining points scarcely matter.
To address and mitigate these challenges, the Police Service and Judiciary require specialized training in the use of technology and social media and international standard guidelines on how to effectively deal with the emerging theme of gender based cyber-crime in Kenya. The country’s criminal justice system must provide an effective framework for the investigation and prosecution of cyber-crime. This means that offences must account for the use of new and emerging technologies to commit crime; penalties must provide adequate deterrent and reflect the seriousness of different types of cybercrime; procedural and evidentiary rules need to account for new forms of evidence; and prosecutors and judicial officers must be well equipped to consider digital evidence. There is also need for a policy at the national level that addresses the threat of cyber violence, paying particular attention to how cyber violence affects and is perpetuated against women. Perhaps these steps will have the most immediate effect in curbing the growth of cybercrime in Kenya and Africa.