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April 12, 2023 - Comments Off on March 2023 Newsletter: Advancing Democracy and Internet Freedom in a Digital Age

March 2023 Newsletter: Advancing Democracy and Internet Freedom in a Digital Age

Nighat Dad spoke at a high-level panel at the Summit for Democracy along with US Secretary of Sate Tony Blinkin, Ambassador of Argentina Jorge Argüello, and Funke Opeke. Nighat raised spoke about the important role of civil society in upholding digital rights and the ways states can strengthen democracies in their context and worldwide. #SummitForDemocracy

Policy Initiatives

Submission to the UN Global Digital Compact

In March, DRF held two online consultations to consolidate findings for their submission to the UN Global Digital Compact. The consultations were on the following topics: building climate change resilience in internet technologies and overcoming language barriers by developing technologies around local languages and contexts. DRF invited and interviewed experts and stakeholders in the field of law, policy, climate change, technology and design.

Online Campaigns

International Women’s Day 2023

DRF celebrated International Women’s Day and this 8th March we salute and celebrate the resilience, strength and power of all women and gendered minorities.

#HamaraInternetSabKaInternet #OnlineSafetyForAll

DRF concluded it’s campaign on #HamaraInternetSabKaInternet #OnlineSafetyForAll which highlighted the importance of fact checking information online and curbing misinformation and disinformation in online spaces.

#IWD2023 - International Women’s Day

DRF went live on Instagram this International Women's Day with its program managers to showcase the important work they do to make online spaces a safe place for all.

Press Coverage

Women push back in Pakistan, coup anniversary, BBC raid, and silencing independent media across Asia

DRF’s Nighat Dad spoke with IFEX speaking about digital rights and women's rights in Pakistan.
Empowering Women and Girls through Digital Access and Technology

The World Justice Challenge network showcased DRF’s work highlighting our work on educating women & girls about online harassment.
Digital rights activist makes Pakistan’s presence felt at democracy summit

DRF’s Nighat Dad attended the US democracy summit highlighting the struggle to create room for the majority in the virtual space dominated by technology companies and governments.


Global Launch Event of a policy guide on Addressing Hate Speech through Education

DRF's Nighat Dad spoke at UNESCO Costa Rica’s Global Launch Event of a policy guide on Addressing Hate Speech through Education at the University of Peace in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Listen to the conversation here:

Catalysing Collecting Action to End Technology-Facilitated Gender-Based Violence

DRF’s Nighat Dad talks about transparency and accountability being the key for social media companies. She highlights how countries and tech platforms can be better partners to activists and civil society to address online harassment and abuse. #CSW67

Regional Consultation on the Adoption of the Bangkok General Guidance for Judges on Applying a Gender Perspective in South and Southeast Asia

DRF’s Nighat Dad participated at the Regional Consultation on the Adoption of the Bangkok General Guidance for Judges on Applying a Gender Perspective in South and Southeast Asia by ICJ Asia and Pacific.

Refresher Workshop for Prosecutors & Legal Aid Lawyer on Marriage Rights and Violence against Women

DRF’s Legal Team attended a one (01) day refresher workshop organized by Musawi in collaboration with the Center for Professional Development of Public Prosecutors, for prosecutors and legal aid lawyers on “Marriage Rights and Violence against Women on 22 March 2023. The primary objective of the workshop was to involve prosecutors and legal aid lawyers in a dialogue about their roles in upholding rules/regulations and by-laws on women’s marriage rights in Punjab, such as Muslim family laws, including those related to child marriage, statutes on violence against women, and provision of legal aid regulations in Punjab. Furthermore, the workshop also covered a discussion on the practical implementation of laws including but not limited to the Punjab Protection of Women Against Violence Act 2016, the Anti-Rape (Investigation and Trial) Act 2021, the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance 1961, and the Punjab Legal Aid Act 2018, and others.

Virtual Awareness Session about the Importance of Digitalization

DRF spoke for Water Environment and Sanitation Society (WESS) at the Virtual Awareness Session about the Importance of Digitalization in Quetta online with girls and boys. Around 30 people attended the session and learned about how to protect themselves online.

Oxfam: From Hashtags to Action: Leveraging Digital Spaces for Feminist Activism

DRF’s Seerat Khan spoke on Instagram Live by Oxfam Asia on the topic ‘From Hashtags to Action: Leveraging Digital Spaces for Feminist Activism’ highlighting how women and margnalized groups are using online spaces to amplify their causes.

DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality

DRF’s Programs and Comms Lead Seerat Khan spoke on International Women’s Day on the panel “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality” Leveraging Technology to support the elimination of Gender-Based Violence and Women’s Empowerment. Seerat focused on technology-facilitated gender-based violence emphasizing the policy and legal solutions and gaps for survivors.

International Conference on Sustainable Development in Pakistan: Exploring local discourses and Seeking Solutions

The University of Home Economics, in collaboration with its internal Departments and other partners, collaborated to hold a dialogue about the problems and their solutions in the current circumstances where gender disparity has become an indefinite reality. Ms Irum Shujah, Senior Legal Associate at DRF, spoke in the conference’s first session, “Gender, Law and Social justice: Applied Perspectives”. She mainly discussed the possibility of the digital avenue(s) becoming hosts of gender-based violence and, in light of the same, elaborated upon the prevalent risks in the digital spaces which are faced by an average Pakistani woman on a daily basis. She shared her relevant experiences from courts while assisting complainants of cyber harassment and other cases registered under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016. The discussion revolved around online modesty and she concluded her part by giving possible solutions to these online abuses.

Panel Discussion: Hate Speech & Disinformation – Protecting the rights of women and girls in digital spaces

DRF took part in a panel discussion hosted by the British High Commission at March 17, 2023 on digital hate speech to understand the specific issues of digital hate speech directed towards women and the transgender community focusing on the role of regulation.

Panel: “Internet for All”

DRF took part in the panel discussion titled “Internet for All” at EconFest 2023 organised by Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) on March 12, 2023 discussing issues of internet access, particularly around the gender digital divide.

MozFest 2023: Building escalation channels for online abuse: learning from fact checking systems to protect human rights defenders and journalists

DRF partnered with Meedan’s Check platform and PEN America to co-host a participatory and inclusive workshop on escalation channels in terms of the challenges faced, the models that can be adopted and recommendations to improve these channels.

WoW Festival

The Women of the World Festival was held in Karachi on 4th and 5th March, 2023. DRF participated in the festival by moderating the panel ‘Protecting Yourself Online’, which brought together Dr. Saiqa Imtiaz and Anusheh Naveed to discuss the ways in which women’s personal information and financial vulnerabilities have been targeted by online scams and what can be done to guard against these.

Session with IMC

To mark International Women’s Day on 8th March, the International Medical Corps invited DRF to address a virtual session with their employees titled ‘Digital Rights, Online Harassment, and Way Forward’. The session was interactive and the participants engaged thoroughly with topics such as consent, online harassment and legal protections available.

Creating Safe and Empowering Spaces for Women Online

DRF’s Nighat Dad, ahead of #InternationalWomensDay spoke on an Instagram Live session by Meta’s oversight board, looking at some of the ways we can make the digital world safer, more inclusive, and more equitable.

Shimshal Youth Forum: Digital Rights and Safe Spaces for Women

DRF was invited to speak at the Shimshal Youth Forum on the 3rd of March, 2023. Legal team member Shafia Imran, Helpline team member Zoya Dawar and Project Manager Zainab Durrani joined the session virtually and spoke with young girls from Shimshal, Gilgit Baltistan. The theme of the session focused on ‘Digital Rights and Safe Spaces for Women’, which allowed DRF experts to go over the basic parameters of Pakistan’s digital rights landscape.

Ms Shafia discussed the basic concepts related to privacy, and digital security under the ambit of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016 and the accompanying legal framework surrounding cyber crimes such as that cyber stalking, cyber harassment and child pornography. The legal part of the discussion aimed at educating its audience about their fundamental digital rights in the digital spaces.

Ms Zoya spread digital awareness for girls in secondary schools and above; what constitutes online harassment and the common forms of online violence. It was also discussed how these attacks are usually gendered and what can be considered informed consent. Some digital security tips were provided to the children and different ways to secure their devices were shared.

PTA Digital Gender Inclusion Strategy

DRF was invited to attend the PTA’s Validation Workshop on Digital Gender Inclusion Strategy on 28th March, which was attended virtually. During the workshop, the draft strategy was introduced and the research methodology was explained after which input and questions were taken from the participants.

DRF Updates

Cyber Harassment Helpline

The Cyber Harassment Helpline received 225 complaints in March, with most cases being around the non-consensual use of information. If you’re encountering a problem online, you can reach out to our helpline at 0800-39393, email us at [email protected] or reach out to us on our social media accounts. We’re available for assistance from 9 am to 5 pm, Monday to Sunday.

IWF Portal

DRF in collaboration with Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) and the Global Fund to End Violence Against Children launched a portal to combat children’s online safety in Pakistan. The new portal allows internet users in Pakistan to anonymously report child sexual abuse material in three different languages- English, Urdu, and Pashto.

Meta along with Revenge Porn Helpline (RPH) has launched a portal to support victims of Non-Consensual Intimate Image Abuse (NCII). NCII is a free portal for reporting cases of sensitive or sexual content existing online. Once you report a case, the necessary steps will be taken to block the images from the platform.


Published by: Digital Rights Foundation in Newsletter

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