Feminist Principles of the Internet Workshop for CEDAW Youth of Miriam College

In a globalizing world, the internet has a vital role in disseminating information and empowering people worldwide. The internet is also is known for dismantling boundaries for inclusive connectivity worldwide.  However, despite the success of globalization and technology,  many people in some parts of the globe, still have no internet access. Moreover, though the internet has been considered a space for empowering women and the LGBTQ plus, it has also been a space for hatred, discrimination and gender based-violence online against these sectors of the society.   Indeed, the workshop is timely and relevant right now, as we have discussed the 5 feminist principles on the internet namely, access, movement building economy, expression, agency, and embodiment.

The workshop was created to serve as a safe space for students wherein they were able to share their perspectives on the digital sphere by using a feminist perspective. Though there was an intimate number of people who attended, it did not hinder the success of the event. The workshop mainly centered on the following principles, access, economy and embodiment. On the first principle, access, students discussed the importance of the internet. They also explained, that although the internet and mobile access is widespread, there are still multiple people worldwide who do not have access to technology. And though, people have access to technology, many individuals lack the knowledge and skill to properly and ethically use social media. Thus, resulting in hate and discrimination in social media, and the most common victims of oppression and violence online, are women. Therefore, what the students recommend is to educate and influence individuals to be gender sensitive in social media. This would also help individuals to be empowered in having the knowledge to use social media as an appropriate platform and tool to solve contentious issues,  like violence against women.  

The second principle, economy, the students raised the point on how online shopping has empowered women to contribute to society. However, online shopping also has its dangers, as it becomes the space for the exploitation of information. As online stores use the information of their customers to sell to other online shops. Thus, the information released by the customers are used as a commodity for profit. Students also raised the question of whether or not cosmetic surgery and beauty pageants empowers women. Most of the students consider that beauty pageant and cosmetic surgery disempower women. As it objectifies women, and a crown does not simply define a woman’s beauty nor her intelligence. A woman is beautiful, simply the way how she looks and a crown does not define beauty.

The third principle, embodiment, students explained their experiences on how information is used for the wrong reasons. Therefore, institutions, organizations, and individuals must be sensitive to how they collect and use information. The students also raised an important point on implementing an anti-harassment policy in the student body, may it be in social media or in the outside world.

Overall, the workshop was considered a success.  The participants were able to think critically on how the digital world affects women. Nevertheless, technology is also used as a space for women to empower themselves.  The workshop also encouraged students, on how to raise awareness and use the 17 principles on gender based violence and gender issues against women. Indeed, it was a worthwhile and engaging experience that the participants would always use in their daily lives.#

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