Information and communications technologies have opened up new opportunities and aided efforts towards promoting gender equality. However, they can also be used as tools to perpetrate Gender-Based Violence (GBV). While there is no internationally agreed definition for the term, technology-facilitated GBV is defined by UN Women as any act of violence committed, assisted, or aggravated by the use of information and communications technologies on the basis of gender. It encompasses a wide range of sexist behaviors and actions online including online harassment, gendered hate speech, intimate image abuse, trolling, and sharing of deepfake images.
Amplified by the anonymity, scale and speed of the internet, the lack of law enforcement mechanisms and gendered gaps in digital literacy, technology-facilitated GBV has become a pervasive issue across the world. It targets primarily women, particularly young women and girls, women facing intersecting forms of discrimination, such as women of color or diverse sexual orientations and gender identities and women in public life. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, 38% of women globally have personally been subjected to online violence, 65% reported knowing other women who had been targeted online, and 85% of women reported witnessing online violence against other women. The political, social, and economic consequences of technology-facilitated GBV are significant. It increases the digital gender divide, silences women’s voices, has serious impacts on victims’ health and well-being, and undermines their safety, reputation, freedom of expression and participation in the digital realm.
To address this pressing issue, the International Gender Champions (IGC) Secretariat, in partnership with the United Nations International Computing Centre (UNICC), launched its ‘I Say No To Sexism Online’ campaign in September 2023. It builds on the ‘I Say No To Sexism’ campaign, first launched in 2018 by former Director-General of UNOG and IGC co-founder Michael Møller, and relaunched in September 2022, to address sexism in the workplace. The campaign complements the IGC’s GBV Pledge, one of two IGC core commitments, requiring each Gender Champion to uphold a zero-tolerance stance towards any form of GBV, sexist behaviors and harmful norms – both offline and online.
The new ‘I Say No To Sexism Online’ campaign seeks to tap into the potential of connective technology for gender equality by building awareness, engaging senior leaders as positive role models, and promoting actionable pathways towards digital safety for all. To educate on the negative implications of technology-facilitated GBV, the IGC Secretariat produced a short educational video and developed a resource repository which can be found on the IGC website along with a series of informative social media posts. Furthermore, a variety of online communications assets and templates have been made available for the IGC community to share within their respective virtual networks and support organizational messaging against technology-facilitated GBV. A ‘Champion’s Guide for Action’ has also been developed to encourage senior leaders in and beyond the IGC network to take effective action against online GBV within their spheres of influence by offering concrete suggestions. Finally, Champions across the IGC’s six hubs in Geneva, New York, Nairobi, Vienna, The Hague and Paris are participating in a social media challenge, highlighting their commitment to ending technology-facilitated GBV and challenging their peers to do the same.
WANT TO GET INVOLVED?
We encourage everyone to #LogIntoEquality and join the campaign to help us create a chain of positive messaging for a sexism-free online world. The IGC Secretariat created a range of communications tools, including an educational video on technology-facilitated GBV, social media cards, GIFs, email signatures, virtual backgrounds and/or profile picture filters. They can be downloaded via a publicly accessible Trello board and shared across personal and professional networks. We say no to sexism online. What do you say?