Stockholm, 15 September 2023 (TDI): On this International Day of Democracy 2023, the global partnership for action on Gender-based Online Harassment and Abuse, representing several nations, stresses the need to protect the rights of girls and women to participate in public affairs in a statement.
This year carries exceptional significance in democracy, with more than 100 countries gearing up for upcoming elections. Ensuring the active inclusion of everyone, no matter their background, is vital for fruitful democracies.
However, women and girls who actively engage in public life now face a growing wave of online threats and attacks, often with few options for help. A study has revealed that most female parliamentarians have suffered psychological violence, mainly through social media platforms.
These technology-fueled acts of violence push women to censor and withdraw themselves. It also results in offline threats and violence infringing women’s fundamental human rights.
Additionally, online threats against women and girls have surged with the spread of digital technologies. Technologies like artificial intelligence contribute to the rise of malicious deepfakes, non-consensual pornography, and the reinforcement of stereotypes.
These coordinated digital attacks intentionally employ misogyny and disinformation. They discredit, intimidate, and silence women in politics, journalism, and activism, posing a severe threat to democracies worldwide.
Furthermore, recognizing the grave danger they pose to open, inclusive societies, urgent addressing of these attacks is necessary.
Urgent call to action
In this context, nations are urged to recognize the danger of technology-facilitated gender-based violence in democracies worldwide. The statement suggests nations and technology companies step up, take essential actions, and combat this pressing threat effectively.
It highlights the importance of supporting a “Safety by Design” approach when developing and deploying platforms and technologies, ensuring that women can participate freely, safely, and without reservation in public life.
The endorsing countries and supporting members of the Global Partnership to protect the rights of girls and women in democracy include Australia’s Minister for Communications, Michelle Rowland.
Chile, Dan Jørgensen, Minister for Development Cooperation and Global Climate Policy Denmark. Thórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörd Gylfadóttir, Minister for Foreign Affairs Iceland.
New Zealand Minister for Women, Jan Tinetti, Republic of Korea Second Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Oh Youngju. Tobias Billström, Minister for Foreign Affairs Sweden.
United Kingdom Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of State for the Middle East. South Asia, the United States of America, the Commonwealth, the UN, and the Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict.