Online spaces and digital technologies have emerged as a critical and influential site for feminist activism and organising in Africa.
Online spaces and digital technologies have emerged as a critical and influential site for feminist activism and organising in Africa. From trending hashtags such as #BringBackOurGirls in Nigeria and #TotalShutdown in South Africa, to WhatsApp and Signal groups in countries across the region where feminists, activists and LGBTIQ people gather to share, plan and commune, digital technologies have impacted on how movements are formed, strengthened and sustained in the region.
At the same time, threats to feminist organising continue, taking new forms and expanding to allow a range of differently located actors, including the state, fundamentalist religious structures and private corporations who increasingly find common purpose in narrowing evolving notions of morality, family and “Africanness”. These threats often manifest as targeted gender-based violence online that is intimately linked to offline spaces, and the twin roles of censorship and gendered surveillance that facilitate this violence. In a context of shifting civil society space, it is essential that we interrogate what these changes mean for organising in the region.
In response to this context, APC Women’s Rights Programme is organising a four-day “Making a feminist internet: Movement building in a digital age in Africa” convening to contribute towards the ongoing work of collectively imagining and locating diverse understandings and experiences of digital technologies and spaces. It will use the the collaboratively developed Feminist Principles of the Internet as an evolving framework to bring together a range of actors who are differently located within movement building work to reflect, question, imagine and create by asking:
- How is movement building in a digital age expressed in different locations in Africa?
- What are the connective junctures of shared concerns, needs and learnings?
- What should we pay attention to as backlash and attacks occur in the different spaces we occupy?
- How do we integrate digital safety, agency and wellbeing in the face of online gender-based violence, censorship and surveillance?
- How do we engage with the internet through a politics and practice of our diverse feminisms?
- How can we imagine and make a feminist internet one that is supportive of resilient and strong movements, and that is both a site of, and a space for our activisms?
- Are you an African feminist, women’s rights, sexual rights or internet rights activist, artist, researcher, writer, content creator, grassroots and/or community-based organiser and/or activist living in Africa or the diaspora?
- Do you have some experience with technology and movement building and curiosity about how digital platforms and internet technologies affect how we organise for change?
- Are you interested in strengthening and building movements or currently participating in either formal or informal movement building activities and initiatives, whether online or offline?
- Do you organise or are you involved in training and learning opportunities that strengthen women’s rights, sexual rights or feminist networks and communities on digital security or safety?
- Are you passionate about and interested in connecting with activists and feminists in and from Africa to collaborate on possible future projects?
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Photo credit: APCNews