Gender and Technology Institute, Panama
From Gender and Tech Resources
|Title||Gender and Technology Institute: Take Control Over Your Data|
|Category||Privacy Advocacy Digital Security Gender and Tech|
|Geolocalization||9° 2' 39", -79° 29' 58"|
|Organisation|| Tactical Technology Collective,
Women Help Women
|Target audience||Among the women targeted by gender-based online and offline violences, Woman Human Rights Defenders (WHRD) and feminists working on sensitive topics, such as health, reproductive and sexual rights are particularly at risk. Because of this context, Tactical Technology Collective in partnership with Women Help Women organised in September 2017 a training event named “Gender and Technology Institute: Take Control of Your Data” for 35 women engaged with providing information, counsel and/or direct support to women seeking safe abortions. This group of activists was complemented with a multidisciplinary team of 12 women facilitators from the LAC region working on data privacy, digital security, gender based online violence, training skills, self care and holistic security.|
|Number of participants||47|
|Context and motivations|| The Gender and Technology Institute and the Privacy camp for Year 2 took place in Panama in September 2017. The event was entitled “Gender and Technology Institute: Take Control Over Your Data”. It was organised in collaboration with a global organisation called Women Help Women that provide support to activists around the world about safe abortion and with a local human rights organisation. The meeting brought together 35 participants from 13 different countries around Central and South American Countries (Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Republica Dominicana, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Chile). The group was composed by women activists that work on organisations or informal collectives that provide information, counsel and/or accompaniment to women seeking safe abortions, with the hope that they would gain new knowledge and skills for improving their mitigation strategies and for updating their security protocol and that they would advice, train or influence their networks and collectives once back home. This meeting took place over five days and the main goals were to have knowledge exchange to know how data is impacting the work carried out in the field; share strategies on how to mitigate the risk associated with data; identify unique needs of the different regions, people and groups they work with; and see if and how we can compliment each others’ work moving forward. Specific curricula and facilitation methodologies was developed for the event and feed back about their suitableness for pro-choice activists around LAC was collected through the event.
The open call for applications was open for two weeks and half and received 170 applications among which almost 40% came from pro-choice activists thanks to a strong diffusion by our partner WHW.
Participants mainly came from Central American and Caribbean countries encompassing Mexico (7), Panama (5), Nicaragua (7), Honduras (4), El Salvador (2), Republica Dominicana (2) Guatemala (1), Costa Rica (1). Among those we find four countries which forbid abortion under any circumstance. There were also some participants from South American countries, namely from Peru (1), Colombia (1), Venezuela (1), Ecuador (1) and Chile (1) where the legal and social criminalisation of abortion is also among the harshest of all LAC. All together they brought various experiences regarding their activism, uses and practices with technologies, the risks and attacks they were facing inasmuch as their security strategies, resilience and agency.
It should also be noted that one of the aims behind the selection of participants was to provide priority to centro american countries. Our research on risks and attacks faced by pro-choice activists in LAC detected that activists from those countries were facing higher level of dangers, and this finding was echoed by some of the experts invited at the 5 days preparatory meeting that took place in March 2017. They confirmed that activists from Central American countries, in comparison to activists located in south America, had in general fewer opportunities to attend training oriented towards privacy and digital security and had also in general fewer possibilities to meet and share among them.
|Topics||Throughout this event, participants were involved in different tracks such as digital security, mobiles security, politics of data, gender and technology and training which were complemented with three different labs|
|Agenda|| Throughout this event, participants were involved in different tracks such as digital security, mobiles security, politics of data, gender and technology and training which were complemented with three different labs. Each track encompassed the following sessions:
- Digital Security: Security basics, Browser control, Malware attacks, Server attacks and hosting solutions, Anonymity, Encryption, TAILS and Deep web. - Mobiles security: Understanding of infrastructure and mobiles, Security and privacy configuration for mobiles, Alternatives for telephony over VOIP. - Politics of data: Metadata, Criteria for selecting and developing apps, Creating and protecting databases, SEO and positioning your contents. - Gender and technology: Creative uses of social networks, Feminist campaigning taking into account privacy and security, Reporting and documenting gender based online violence, Hacking hate speech, Big data and sexual surveillance. - Training skills: ADIDS for education to technologies, Create safe spaces.
Besides those sessions, there were three labs at the end of the day that people could attend: the feminist hackerspace, a science fiction lab and a self care lab. We can note that lots of participants engaged in the hackerspace even if it was not a mandatory activity. It shows that digital security and privacy are concepts that they understood as relevant for their activity. Some didn't have any experience with free software and privacy tools before, but they were clearly in search for learning and using immediately or as soon as possible those in their routines. The other most attended lab was the self care one where the facilitator provided methodologies for dealing with stress and anxiety, how to relax and rebalance when facing fear and trauma, and provided space for exchanging on methods for collective and individual self care. The science fiction lab was also attended by some participants during the first two days but was dropped in the last two days as participants felt it was more urgent to attend the hackerspace or the self care lab. Anyhow it enabled to work on the issue of creativity and how to develop methodologies that easy the process of collective creation of imaginaries, narratives and desires in relation to our technologies and activisms.
|Methodologies|| Regarding the agenda, it started with a first preparatory day where all participants engaged together around the objectives of the GTI, collective shared agreements, media and documentation protocols, and other important logistics information. Then during the afternoon participants shared in little groups about their first memories and practices with technologies and how their relations with those are influenced by their gender and by other intersectionnal dimensions such as their geographical origin, social background, access to education and learning opportunities, sexual orientation and so on.
From those conversations they moved towards a first collective session aimed at designing and updating an integral security plan. Participants worked around four different cases studies where they assessed actors, risks and mitigation strategies in order to design a protocol taking into account the inter-relation between physical integrity, digital security and psychosocial well-being.
This inaugural session enabled to visibilize the diversity of knowledge and practices of security already in place among the participants and their networks. It enabled the group to understand that they were already applying in their daily routine as pro-choice activists the basic principles of the four digital mitigation strategies namely called “fortification”, “reduction”, “obfuscation” and “compartimentalisation”. During the wrap up we introduced briefly the main results from our research on risks and attacks faced by pro-choice activists in LAC and checked with them that the information made sense and resonate with their own experience. We also discovered that some of them had answered the online survey or provided us with an interview through email.
This first day enabled participants to share a common vocabulary and to have a better understanding of the diversity of their contexts, challenges and strategies. At the same time it informed them about which sessions they should attend during the next days. In the same way, facilitators could have a general sense of the levels of knowledge and practices regarding security and to better feel how they should adapt their contents and facilitation methodologies during the next days.
The schedule generally offered 2 different sessions in parallel enabling participants to engage in the session that better suited their level of practice and knowledge. Besides that all sessions were distributed among 2 or 3 facilitators and an extra facilitator was taking notes of the session. Added to this, all facilitators had a formal debrief meeting every night to evaluate how the day and the sessions went on and where they could get extra support for adapting methodologies, contents, hands-on exercises and the overall training spaces.
Finally the last day, the agenda was shaped along the conversations that the group of participants felt they need to go more in-depth, namely a session for sharing about their security protocols, one session about lobbying towards public institutions and developing campaigns together and a session about how to be supported and support others when they are facing technology related violence. This was followed up by a closing session regarding updating and maintaining integrated security protocols where participants review the cases studies they analized during the first day and complemented those with the new contents, tools and methodologies they discovered during the GTI. We moved finally to a closing session where we discussed the next steps after the meeting, which training or advocacy activities participants where planning once back home, how they wanted to stay in contact, how the documentation of the sessions should be managed and where everyone could achieve a formal evaluation of the event (see annex 1).
|Feelings||An important element of the success of this event lied in the fact that the curricula and the facilitation methodologies was informed by an in-depth research that collected 55 testimonies among activists located in 14 LAC countries regarding their uses and practices with ICT and the risks and attacks they were facing. This research was complemented with a preparatory meeting of five days that gathered our partner Women Help Women and nine of the facilitators that would be present at the GTI. As the meeting took place in March 2017, facilitators had over 5 months to discuss and prepare their sessions. This time span enabled them to investigate and adapt their examples and cases studies to the diversity of contexts experienced by the participants.|
|Feedbacks|| We found that the event enabled many participants to finally meet face to face and to create new forms of trust and exchange that can only be achieved in offline meetings. Many of them also underlined that even if they knew the name of the other collectives and they followed their activities or campaigns on the internet, the institute became a space that provided them with the opportunity to better understand how they worked and navigate in their specific contexts in order to provide information, counsel and/or accompaniment to the women they are supporting. In other words the Institute was felt as a safe space for sharing about their security and mitigation strategies and many participants felt they could never share those in an online environment. All together they felt the training not only provided them with important new skills and knowledge regarding their presence online but also strengthen their knowledge, networks and future actions regarding pro-choice activism on the field.
Finally, participants also felt that the Institute was different because it focused on the security as a multilayer of processes and practices taking place inside their networks of solidarity and support, rather than providing a top down approach that focuses primarily on privacy and digital security tools. In that sense, it was also felt important that facilitators underlined the existing links between the holistic and integrated security approach to the different methodologies and practices developed within feminists and gender social justice movements, showing the continuum existing between online and offline approaches to security. All together, it provided participants with a sense of enjoying a strong framework (theoretical and practical) that make easier to link all those dimensions together and include more privacy and digital security into their lives and work.