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July 24, 2019 - Comments Off on DRF at the conference on “Standing Up against Online Harassment of Women Journalists – What works?” at UNESCO Headquarters, Paris

DRF at the conference on “Standing Up against Online Harassment of Women Journalists – What works?” at UNESCO Headquarters, Paris

Digital Rights Foundation’s (DRF) Executive Director, Ms. Nighat Dad, attended the conference “Standing up against online harassment of women journalists - What works?”, organized by members of the Group of Friends for the Safety of Journalists in cooperation with the UNESCO Communication and Information Sector on 18th June. The event followed decisions by UNESCO’s 39th General Conference and the 206th Executive Board that called upon UNESCO to reinforce and prioritize activities aimed at addressing the specific threats to the safety of women journalists, both online and offline. Online harassment is a growing and ubiquitous problem faced by women journalists around the world. Several studies have demonstrated the psychological distress and impact of threats, violence and abuse to women journalists’ work and health, which affects gender equality but also freedom of expression and diversity in the media. 

The event brought together over 200 member state representatives, journalists and legal professionals to explore new ways to reinforce the safety of women journalists. Ms. Dad, while talking about the practical and legal measures to tackle online harassment of women journalists, pressed the need for more accountability from social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, where abuse against women journalists is rampant.

DRF at RightsCon 2019 

DRF team attended RightsCon 2019, a leading summit on human rights in the digital age, from 11th to 14th June 2019, in Tunis. DRF team was part of interesting debates around fake news, surveillance, data protection, gender and privacy. Nighat Dad, the Executive Director of DRF, spoke on various panels and discussions highlighting the state of digital rights in global south especially Pakistan. She also  discussed the shrinking civil spaces online and offline, the explosion of data and decline of privacy in the region, and spurring challenges due to the emergence of new tools and technologies in Pakistan. She emphasized on social media companies to formulate such policies that grant security to citizens and their data in online spaces.

DRF laid special emphasis on mental health and the stressors involved with it in this field. DRF’s Program Manager, Jannat Fazal, hosted a session titled, ‘Where there is burnout there is no innovation: Managing stressors for a better physical and mental health’.  The session focused on burnout and the factors of our work and culture reinforcing them. Ways to overcome systemic dispositions in activist community as well as in organizations were charted out to help participants in managing their stressors.

DRF at Privacy International Annual Meeting, London

DRF was represented by Executive Director Nighat Dad and Zainab Durrani at Privacy International’s Partners’ Meeting held in London between the 25th and 27th of June, 2019. This annual event consisted of a two-day workshop entitled ‘Building a sustainable Global Network’ with organizations from 15+ countries joining in.

The third day of the event was dedicated to the SIDA partner meeting wherein work being done by the partners on issues pertaining to gender, health and privacy were discussed, giving us the chance to learn from the varying trajectories of the other organizations involved and also allowing us to showcase and reflect on the themes and projects DRF engages in and strives to achieve.

DRF organized a five-day residency in collaboration with Pakistan-U.S. Alumni Network

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To support a safer and healthier digital society in Pakistan, the Pakistan-U.S. Alumni Network (PUAN) in collaboration with Digital Rights Foundation (DRF) held a five-day master class in residence, “Creating Leaders for a Better Digital Society” in Lahore from 17th June to 21st June. This in-depth training program provided 36 alumni of U.S. government exchange programs from across Pakistan with the necessary tools and skills in digital literacy and citizenship to become leaders in creating a better digital society.

 U.S. Consul General Colleen Crenwelge, who spoke with the participants on the last day of the workshop stated, “The U.S. government is delighted to support the Digital Rights Foundation’s efforts to inform the public about online rights and responsibilities.”

Click here to read the press release.

Nighat Dad talks about online hate speech on TRT World


Ms. Dad talked about online hate speech and whether tech companies can be trusted in the program, Roundtable, on TRT World. A conservative commentator who published a series of racist and homophobic attacks on YouTube, has been allowed to keep his platform. It is raised new questions about whether technology companies are sticking to their own rules on hate speech.

Ms. Dad talked about how hate speech in Pakistan is different as compared to hate speech in other parts of the world and that it is important to make tech companies realize this. She mentioned that hate speech in Pakistan, unfortunately, can have real life repercussions for people like activists and journalists who only have online spaces where they can exercise their right to speak, as offline spaces is already shrinking. Hence tech companies need to be vigilant and have better content regulation policies.

Session on Cyber Harassment at Fatima Memorial Hospital (FMH) College of Medicine & Dentistry

DRF conducted a session on cyber harassment on 27th June at FMH College of Medicine & Dentistry. There were 40 to 50 students present at the session and the discussion revolved around the types of harassment that exists online and how people can protect themselves from trolling and harassment online. A healthy debate on memes also took place and the students were sensitized about the detrimental consequences of making memes about someone.

DRF at the conference on ‘Is Propaganda Protected Speech?’, Netherlands 

A conference took place in Hague, Netherlands on 28th June where it was discussed if state-sponsored disinformation is a protected form of free speech or not and the available recourse when it harms people and institutions. Ms. Nighat Dad attended the conference and spoke on a panel, “Digital and Civic Solutions”. The panel took an in-depth look at the phenomena of state-sponsored disinformation campaigns, how they shape the contemporary information space, the use of social media platforms, the impact of false accounts and bots that have become prevalent and served as amplifiers for state-run media storylines. Ms. Dad also shared her experience of operating on this new digital-media battlefield and discussed the impact of inauthentic digital content.

Members of Network of Women Journalists for Digital Rights continued to pen blogs

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Members of DRF's Network of Women Journalists for Digital Rights continued to share articles and blogs on digital rights issues which can be found on the Hamara Internet website here. The Network advocates for women and other minority groups to have safe access to online platforms, where they can exercise their constitutional right of free speech without facing constant threats. The Network members pen articles to document these threats, bring forward issues in the implementation of legislation to prevent and protect women journalists from gender-based discrimination and sexual harassment both online and offline and also advocate their access to effective remedies.

Joint Statement on the Internet Shutdown in Rakhine and Chin States by DRF and Other Civil Society Organizations

Internet shutdown was imposed in conflict-affected areas of Rakhine and Chin States on 21st June 2019 by the Myanmar authorities. The shutdown had created an information black hole in those areas and DRF, in collaboration with other civil society organizations, released a joint statement condemning this act without prior notice. The statement also read “The UN Human Rights Council has repeatedly adopted resolutions, most recently in 2018, identifying uninterrupted internet access as a fundamental enabler for the enjoyment of human rights”. Click here to read the full statement.

Published by: Digital Rights Foundation in Newsletter

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