(Guest Post by Yvonne Oluoch, #IncYOUbateIT competition winner, founder of Socially Keen Individuals Redefining the Tech Space (SKIRTS) and AkiraChix Volunteer)
On 30th of November 2014, I left for Berlin to attend a Gender and Technology workshop hosted by Tactical Tech Collective courtesy of Akirachix and Making All Voices Count. Most of you may be wondering why I had to travel halfway across the world for such a training ( I too, at first, wondered the same thing, until I got there.)
The training basically focused on the tools and tactics for digital security, tackling questions around the issues of privacy and security especially for techies ,Human rights defenders ,activists, journalists and bloggers. How safe are you while in the internet ecosystem? How vulnerable and exposed are you when going through the internet of things?
Throughout the week we tackled various digital security and privacy tactics to help us be more safe and private on the internet for our own sake. The whole training covered digital security which ran in two tracks, i.e having a technology background, you can train to be a digital security trainer or a privacy advocate where you create discussions around various toxic internet uses. These two tracks were between 9am-1pm then in the afternoon we looked at hands on skills on various tools, identified bugs and installed all the cool and new apps we could come across. In the evenings you had a choice of either doing a DS hackathon or chilling at gabi’s for some cold beer (Three guesses which option I chose ;D).
One thing the internet has been able to accomplish over the past decade is to harness freedom of expression in ways we could have never thought of or imagine. It’s because of the internet, that you are reading this blogpost some miles across the globe and it is because of this very same internet that our values and opinions can be disregarded and abused on a global scale.
Are you still asking yourself, why gender and technology? Our society is wired in such a way that your gender determines how you speak, when you speak and whom you speak to. Women tend to suffer more on issues relating to online freedom and are thus unable to hold discussions on online spaces without being harassed and trolled at with either the same gender or opposite. There are few safe spaces online for women to share their opinions.
This is one of the reasons why I began my S.K.I.R.T.S initiative. I’m not trying to totally disrupt the norms of society, but I do want to be be accommodating and give people a chance to speak up and be heard in a respectful manner, irrespective of your gender. Remember, “your freedom of speech should not infringe on my freedom of speech” We should accommodate each other in a respectful manner and this was the holistic stand of the gender and tech institute’s training. You’ll notice in the picture above, that we are wearing different faces in the photo. These faces represent any woman who has ever experienced tech-related violence and harassment online.
One thing that I would like to tell the outspoken, brave citizens of the internet is that there is hope and that you can easily and freely communicate and express those strong views that you possess without fear of being censored or tracked.
I plan on hosting a digital security meetup on 20th February 2015 at the AkiraChix space. The focus of this two hour event will be to introduce you to some of the amazing digital security tools I got to play around with in Berlin. Do join us by signing up on this eventbrite link.
Looking forward to seeing you then!