Supporting women online through solidarity networks | #MeTooOnline #csw62

by Roxanne Dubois last modified 2018-03-21T16:01:16-04:00
The United Nations is currently holding the 62nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women. Citizens' Press writer Roxanne Dubois is in New York as part of a delegation of trade union women.

The gender-based violence women face in real life is also replicated online. Women journalists often face coordinated (or random) attacks for the very reason that they are truth-seekers and express ideas or opinions online. The International Association for Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) organized a panel called “Workshoping solutions to counter gender-based violence and harassment online” during CSW62 and it was excellent.

Michelle Ferrier, associate professor at Ohio University and creator of, shared the results of a survey conducted with 600 women journalists. The survey showed that 80% of respondents indicated an increase in threats or attacks online in recent years, and 37% of respondents said they have avoided telling certain stories as a result of threats or attacks. Ferrier said: “There is a privilege that comes from speaking out. Some women are in situations that do not allow them to say anything. We need to find ways to support those who cannot come forward, online and in real life”.

Jennifer Adams from the OFCE office for Freedom of the Media shared a project that seeks to protect women journalists from online threats and harassment. The project is called #SOFJO, or the
Safety of female journalists online. The campaign is equipped with a compelling video and tons of resources for journalists.

Tarisai Nyamweda from the organization Gender Links based in South Africa reported their work mapping out 100 news outlets to track violence against women journalists. The panel also highlighed the safety handbook for Women Journalist, a resource developed by the IAWRT.

In short, this panel provided important space for women to find pathways to resist gender-based violence online. The reality is that even in online spaces, it takes a certain privilege to be able to remove yourself from the line of fire. Combatting online threats made against women is essential to allow the stories and realities
of marginalized voices to be heard.

Harassment online is an issue that relates to the ownership of the Internet. Who creates the Internet, and who makes the rules? When space isn’t safe online, women must support each other and make sure our voices continue to be heard loud and clear.

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