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Read the Report: Digital Rights Learning Exchange

Recognizing the crucial role digital rights advocacy has to play in the wake of grave violations of human rights across the Internet, specifically in restrictive political environments, Digital Grassroots held Digital Rights Learning Exchange Program (DRLX). The program took place from April 27 to June 3 and was executed in cooperation with the Open Internet for Democracy Initiative.

DRLX gathered twenty participants from underrepresented regions representing 12 countries (Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Nigeria, Lesotho, Mexico, Uganda, Haiti, Burundi, Malawi, Kenya, South Africa, Ethiopia, and Cameroon).

In its essence, the program was designed specifically for those who are new to the digital rights space and sought to build the capacities of emerging digital activists to develop and implementing advocacy projects that address digital rights issues in their communities along the following themes that formed project groups:

  • Access and Affordability
  • Hate Speech
  • Freedom of Expression
  • Privacy and Surveillance

Digital Rights Learning Exchange was a six-week online training course that incorporated an online course covering topics such as advocacy concepts for civic engagement, communications strategies, data usage, and monitoring and evaluation of advocacy campaigns, among others. Each week the participants had a chance to take part in online meetings with top experts in the field of digital rights and shared their expertise and knowledge with the rising leaders. The guest speakers included Emmanuel Ogu, Gbenga Sesan, Lourdes Walusala, Nyamwire Bonnita, Rachel Mims, and Sarah Moulton.

The program also featured a two-week mentorship in which a mentor was matched with each of the project groups on the program. The mentor groups consisted of Bendjedid Rachad Sanoussi, Bolutife Adisa, David Aragort, Jesse Nathan Kalange, and Sarah Kiden. Mentors played a key role in supporting participants during the project development, which culminated in the final event.  The DRLX Finale Event was a 90 minutes virtual event at the end of the program for the participants to present the digital rights advocacy projects they were developing during the program.

Digital Grassroots is grateful to the community leaders, mentors, and the Open Internet for Democracy Initiative for making this cohort possible. Read the full report here.

Read the Report: DIGRA Ambassadors Program

The Digital Grassroots Ambassadors Program has always been a firm foundation of our work, as we aim to provide skills and knowledge for emerging digital leaders to enable them to address digital issues on a community level and actively participate in Internet Governance. Up to now, we have been able to implement 5 editions of the program, which reached almost 200 participants from more than 30 countries. Throughout the years that the program has been running, one of our main objectives has been making sure that the content of the Internet literacy course, which forms the basis of the program, provides a relevant and hands-on learning experience that participants can directly apply to their community projects. We also try to ensure that participants have an enabling environment to learn from experts in the digital space. That is why each cohort in our program also features a variety of digital activists and professionals that bring their unique experiences and expertise to the program as trainers and mentors, assisting ambassadors in their learning journey and project development.

This report highlights the main facts and figures about the program as well as documents in detail the latest edition of the program, which took place from September – November 2021. It also spotlights some of the projects that our ambassadors developed and executed during or after the program. These projects reflect the range of topics the participants chose to address and emphasize a diversity of paths in digital activism that our ambassadors take to build a better digital future for their communities.

We hope you will enjoy the publication!

Apply for the Digital Rights Learning Exchange

Digital Rights Learning Exchange is a 6-week online training course organized by Digital Grassroots and the Open Internet for Democracy Initiative and tailored for emerging grassroots activists who would like to acquire critical skills and knowledge for conducting effective digital rights advocacy. The program also aims at building a platform for active cooperation and peer learning among the participants through shared group activities and guidance of established digital leaders who will serve as program mentors and facilitators.

The program starts on 25 April 2022 and will feature specifically designed learning content that will be reinforced by live Zoom meetings with industry experts, who will share their expertise across key topics, including effective advocacy writing and communication, using data in advocacy campaigns, staying safe and secure online while implementing advocacy and measuring its impact.

 

Eligibility requirements:

 

– Interest in digital rights advocacy

– Strong written and spoken English (all live sessions and course materials will be in English)

– Community building and leadership experience

– Ability to commit to six (6) hours per week of program activities, for six weeks, from April 25, 2022 to June 03, 2022.A reliable internet connection (a modest connectivity stipend will be provided)

– A willingness to share experiences and learn from one another

 

To help ensure that the program provides participants with competencies relevant to their real-life activities and work, applicants will be asked to submit a digital rights project or concept that they would like to develop further over the course period.

 

At the end of the program, participants will be invited to an open Digital Rights Learning Exchange Finale Event to present their digital rights advocacy projects. During the event, the participants will discuss their project goals, target audience, and road maps using various formats for virtual events, including round table discussions, arts and media showcases, and lightning talks.

 

2020 DIGRA Annual Report

2020 was a year like no other. The global pandemic has brought serious challenges and adversities for the entire global community, exposing a significant gap between different groups, specifically in the digital space. At the same time, it revealed an urgent need for supporting the most vulnerable communities and bridging the digital divide.

In the midst of the unfolding Covid-19 pandemic, Digital Grassroots remained optimistic and carried out projects and activities that would support our community members and strengthen their digital agility in the face of emerging challenges.

Our 2020 Annual Report reflects the scope of work that we implemented throughout the year and demonstrates our commitment to delivering high-quality projects that would benefit our DIGRA community. Apart from a detailed description of our 2020 activities, the report also features the selected community-led projects, DIGRA speaking engagements, and milestones that marked the year 2020 for us. We hope you will enjoy it.

 

 

2021 DIGRA Annual Report

While Digital Grassroots is steadily expanding its network and impact globally, each year, we remain committed to providing valuable learning and capacity-building experience to our community members and ensuring that youth voices are an integral part of the discussions about internet-related issues.

Our 2021 annual report represents the breadth of work we fulfilled to meet our commitments in the given year. It also provides a comprehensive overview of the key activities and projects that we implemented in 2021, including the third cohort of our Community Leaders Program and the fifth cohort of our Ambassadors Program. In addition, the report gives us an opportunity to spotlight and celebrate achievements and special moments that we shared with our community throughout the year.

Discover in the report:

  • Featured community-led projects
  • Community engagement events
  • Our special media project
  • Photo gallery of memorable moments and more!

Read the Report: Community Leaders for Internet Advocacy

Digital Grassroots held its third Community Leaders program from 19 April to 28 May 2021. The program’s focus was Internet Advocacy and built upon the Open Internet for Democracy Playbook by the Open Internet for Democracy Initiative.

 

CL4IA Testimonial: Taona

 

At its core, the program sought to raise awareness on Internet Advocacy in local communities to enable grassroots communities to share their unique internet advocacy experiences. Six Community Leaders from five countries were selected to be part of this program including (in alphabetical order); Aubin Zoh from Côte d’Ivoire, David Aragort from Venezuela, Isaac Oloruntimilehin from Nigeria, Mauricia Abdol Tshilunda from South Africa, Taona Makolija from Malawi, and Victor Uahomo from Nigeria.

 

The Community Leaders for Internet Advocacy was a six-week online learning experience that delved into pertinent issues relating to Freedom of Expression, Freedom of Assembly and Association, Accessibility, Privacy and Data Protection, among more.

 

CL41A Testimonial: Victor

 

The program culminated into a two-week mentorship in which we matched each Community Leader with industry experts including (in alphabetical order); Carlos Iglesias, Eduardo Carillo, Emmanuel Vitus, Iris Boyer, Marco Konopacki, Meri Baghdasaryan, Muthoni Muriithi, and Solana Larsen. The mentorship phase was critical in building capacity for the future internet leaders.

Digital Grassroots is grateful to the community leaders, mentors, and the Open Internet for Democracy Initiative for making this cohort possible. Read the full report here.

 

Apply for Digital Grassroots Ambassadors Program Cohort 5

Digital Grassroots is a youth-led organization aimed at increasing digital citizenship among youth from underrepresented regions.

The fifth cohort of our Digital Grassroots Ambassador program enables the ambassadors to analyze internet and digital rights issues in their communities. The program accomplishes the following goals:
1. Build a positive narrative on youth participation in Internet Governance
2. Engage youth in resolving internet-related problems at the community level
3. Introduce youth to participate in Internet Governance through mentorship
4. Use Internet Literacy as a tool to accomplish SDGs 4, 5, 10, 16, 17

The Digital Grassroots Ambassador program will include:
1. 4 weeks Internet Literacy online coursework tailored to address key internet and digital rights issues in local communities
2. A community engagement activity that will be done by selected Ambassadors; This would involve training a group of other people (minimum of ten) using the ILC coursework, and submitting a picture proof and report on the activities carried out
3. A 4-week mentorship program with a mentor to induct Ambassadors to Youth Participation in Internet Governance

Successful Ambassadors will receive a certificate at the end of the program, an opportunity to share success stories and write articles related to the internet on our website, forum, and social platforms, an exclusive mentorship program on how to engage as a youth in Internet Governance, as well as an opportunity to join the core team in a given capacity.

Selection Criteria

• Between 14 and 29 years old in 2021
• Interested in using the internet as a tool for social good and development
• Community Centred individual passionate about sharing information
• Applications are encouraged from persons from regions facing internet-related challenges including access problems.
• You do not need prior experience in Internet Governance to participate

Program timeline
– Applications Open – 6 August 2021
– 30 minutes DIGRA Ambassadors application guidance webinar – 10 AM UTC 13 August 2021 (register to join here)
– Application close – 20 August 2021
– Program start – 6 September 2021

DRIF Report: LBGT Rights in the Digital Space

“The physical and digital worlds are increasingly intertwined when it comes to safety. Prejudices that manifest online can lead to physical harm, and marginalized communities, particularly LGBT people, are increasingly prone to security threats.”

It is therefore necessary that the LGBT community and civil society in general becomes aware of the intersection of human rights and technology. Online surveillance and censorship impact everyone’s rights, and particularly those of already marginalised groups such as LGBT people. The use of new technologies usually reinforces existing societal biases, making those communities particularly prone to discrimination and security threats.

The main points discussed included the centralisation of electronic communications services around a few platforms creating new barriers for LGBT people to exercising their digital rights. Speakers also discussed powerful platforms’ practices result in many LGBT accounts, posts and themed ads being taken down on, while homophobic, transphobic and sexist content often remains untouched.

Additionally, the rising trend of applying strict real-name policies online affecting transgender people was brought up. Besides, panelists mentioned the use of social media platforms by governmental authorities to track down and persecute LGBT people in countries where there is no hate crime legislation. The session equally touched upon the exposure to extortion by cybercriminals who could purchase leaked credentials to obtain intimate personal details and/or photos of LGBT individuals.

Given that threat actors will continue to target marginalized individuals and communities, the webinar sought to empower members of civil society as well as the LGBT community to take their rights to privacy and security into their own hands wherever possible by explaining means and way to:

>Push companies to engage with affected communities in order to develop tools that are privacy friendly and inclusive-by-design.
>Incentivise profit-driven companies to change their services according to specific needs while maintaining them free and accessible for all.
>Encourage users to become familiar with apps’ privacy policies (data retention periods, third party data sharing) before providing personal information
>Promote the use of virtual private network to increase security and to evade state supported surveillance.
>Avoid accidental outing through encryption, data security and personal information protection.

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Recommendations from Paradigm Initiatives DRIF FORUM 2021 ‘LGBT Rights in the digital space’ event hosted by Digital Grassroots. The event was moderated by Nandini Tanya Lallmon. Panelists: Bakang Ndaba, Dzoe Ahmad, Eman Borg, Eppnoggia Mutetwa, and Tushar Kanti Baidya.

Community Leaders for Internet Advocacy

Eligibility

– Aged between 18 and 29 in 2021 – Working on an existing Internet Advocacy issue in your community – Available to dedicate 5 hours per week for six weeks in April and May 2021 – Commitment to your Internet Advocacy project – Good access to internet (this is a web-based program)

Digital Grassroots has opened the call for the third cohort of the Community Leaders for Internet Advocacy. This cohort will build upon the work of Open Internet for Democracy Leaders by engaging in the principles of a democratic internet and adapting the Open Internet for Democracy Advocacy Playbook. The Community Leaders for Internet Advocacy will be young leaders from underrepresented communities who are using the internet for advocacy and democratic participation.

For the past two years, we have collaborated with community leaders across the globe to strengthen their work. Cohort 1 was focused on internet freedom, which we did in collaboration with the Internet Freedom Festival. Cohort 2 was done as part of the Mozilla Open Leaders X program in which we focused on Internet Health and even released our Community Leaders for Internet Health report with support from the Mozilla Internet Health Report team. We are just as eager in cohort 3 to be collaborating with the Open Internet for Democracy Initiative in strengthening the work of young internet advocates who are passionate about the open internet, democracy, and equality online. Our Founder and Chief Strategist is an Open Internet for Democracy Leader and the Open Internet for Democracy Initiative has generously offered their support for this program.

WHO CAN APPLY?

 

We are keen on welcoming young people from communities that are underrepresented in the Internet space. We want to amplify the work you’re already doing and connect you to new communities. Our program welcomes young people from all backgrounds with a diversity of experiences. If you fit the eligibility criteria, do apply before 14 March 2021.

 

Girls, young women and applicants working at the intersection of gender, youth, and underrepresented groups are strongly encouraged to apply.

 

The program runs from April to May 2021.

 

This is not paid program.

Apply for the Digital Natives Youth Connect Board

The Digital Natives Youth Connect Board is an initiative by Digital Grassroots to enable young people to tackle community engagement issues for digital inclusion in underrepresented regions.

Digital Grassroots is a female and youth-led non-profit working to increase digital citizenship in local communities. We are youth leaders in the Generation Equality Action Coalition for Technology and Innovation for Gender Equality, which is led by UN Women, Mexico, and France. We have partnered with global organizations such as Mozilla Foundation, Internet Society, and Internet Freedom Festival to implement community engagement projects for youth inclusion in internet health, internet governance, and digital rights issues in local communities. In 2020, we were finalists in the Access category for ITUs Equals In Tech awards. We were also nominated by WSIS for Ethics in cyberspace.

We are registered in Nigeria and maximize the potential of the internet for our global network of digital natives, including 128 ambassadors and 15 Community Leaders in over 60 countries, 7 programs in 3 years, and a global leadership team. We apply the principles of working open and leading open.

Our distributed model of leadership allows us to create pathways for grassroots communities to interact with our work and create global networks through the application of open internet principles. We work online and are a diverse team open to contributors who uphold the values of an open, inclusive, and healthy internet.

As part of the Digital Natives Youth Connect Board, you will be one of the young people shaping the future of technology and innovation across the globe.

Whilst, being a member of this Board is a non-remunerated position, we believe that the community collaboration, leadership growth, and ability to create change in the world will be an enriching experience.

Apply for one of the five available roles as a member of this new board.

Application deadline

11 June 2021

Objectives of the Digital Native Youth Connect Board

– INTERNET ADVOCACY. Serve in an active advisory and implementation role on engaging young people in solving internet issues at a grassroots level by creating services that respond to the digital needs of underserved communities
– INTERNET HEALTH. Build online communities as a collective of young changemakers working towards a more open, equal, and healthy internet through youth participation in Internet Governance
– INTERNET FREEDOM. Take part in hands-on collaborative efforts with Digital Grassroots to connect grassroots communities to institutions that enhance their autonomy in digital citizenship

Benefits of the board

– Be part of a global youth organization shifting the landscape on youth participation in Internet Governance.
– Center your work and that of your community at a high level, with an opportunity to showcase it to world leaders and leading organizations.
– Contribute to bridging the gender divide in Internet Governance, Technology, and Innovation.
– Be part of the decision-making process that is positively shining light on the issues young people in underrepresented communities are facing
– Be part of a community of like-minded, ethical, and visionary young leaders who are ready to change the world.

The board eligibility requirements

– Below 35 years old

– Proven dedication towards community engagement for digital inclusion
– 5 hours per week availability
– Good internet connectivity
– Healthy and professional work ethics
– Ability to collaborate and communicate with multicultural teams
– Active knowledge and participation in global internet governance and ICT related events

 

There are no restrictions on region, gender, and background.

The board roles

– Board Secretariat
– Communications focal point
– Community Engagements focal point
– Projects focal point
– Resource and Partnerships focal point

BOARD SECRETARIATE

The work of Digital Grassroots is sustained through intentional administrative functions and collaboration among all the team members. We set our intentions through measurable objectives, and assign ourselves meaningful work that allows us to make the most of our potential whilst embracing a healthy work-life balance. As core leaders of Digital Grassroots, we ensure that our commitment to the values of care, intention, collaboration, open leadership, and equity are centered in our practice and trickles down to our community. We can only achieve this by being organized, documenting our processes, and ensuring that our open leadership principles are embedded in all we do.
ROLE DELIVERABLES:
– Serve as the point of contact of the Digital Natives Youth Connect Board both internally and externally
– Maintain the calendar, dates, and task sheets of the board
– Offer direct support with documentation and minute keeping on behalf of the board
– Lead in writing outcome reports based on the board activities
– Lead in monitoring and evaluation of the board’s objectives and offer remedies where needed

PROJECTS FOCAL POINT

Digital Grassroots projects center the community to ensure a bottom-up approach in responses to digital issues affecting our communities. As youth leaders in the Action Coalition for Technology and Innovation, our projects will be ambitious in solving the gender digital divide, and ensuring that our community of Ambassadors and Community Leaders have good impact on the digital story of their communities. Our projects are timely, gender-responsive, and innovative for a digital future that speaks for us.

 

ROLE DELIVERABLES:
– Lead on project conceptualization, administration, and evaluation
– Oversee relevant projects on behalf of Digital Grassroots and the Board
– Identify key partners to collaborate with Digital Grassroots on Projects
– Document project processes and outcomes in reports
– Report back to Digital Grassroots and the Board on key findings, connections, and outcomes of projects

COMMUNICATIONS FOCAL POINT

Digital Grassroots pays a lot of attention to communicating the strides young people are making in the internet space with our community and partners. For us, communication is everything. To remain connected to our vibrant youth network we maintain an active and open communication channel with them through our social media pages, website, email, and newsletters. To ensure that our messages remain intentional, clear, and in line with our organizational objectives, we make use of branding and communication techniques for all of our platform updates.

 

ROLE DELIVERABLES:
– Curate content and post regularly on Digital Grassroots Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts
– Spotlight our community stories bi-weekly for our blog and newsletters by corresponding with board members, ambassadors, community leaders, and global activities related to our work.
– Document all related content and file them accordingly
– Create a brand strategy and communication plan for the organization and board

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT FOCAL POINT 

At the heart of Digital Grassroots is our vibrant youth community. Through the various projects that we implement, we have grown this network to consist of our 128 ambassadors and community leaders from 63 countries. We desire to further expand this network by designing and implementing more community engagement projects and supporting the present network members to carry out their individual community engagement activities.

 

ROLE DELIVERABLES:
– Curate and maintain communication channels for our existing community of Ambassadors and Community Leaders
– Serve as a point of contact between the board and the community
– Source and spotlight community stories and share these with the Communications lead
– Maintain a good community rapport and safety based on Digital Grassroots values by enforcing a code of conduct both internally and externally
– Collaborate with the Resource and Partnerships person to identify and connect with the new community from all stakeholders for opportunities that are beneficial to our community

RESOURCE AND PARTNERSHIP FOCAL POINT 

At Digital Grassroots we are working to ensure that young people have the platform, capacity, and resources to address internet issues affecting their community. We do this with the generous support of our community, partners, and funders. We actively advocate to have young people as a core part of Internet Governance and its processes, and to do so we have to innovate the way we work so that our projects have an impact, are rooted in the grassroots, and remain sustainable.

 

ROLE DELIVERABLES:
– Lead in the process of grant writing, and partnership applications
– Document all past applications, their outcomes, and next steps
– Lead in bookkeeping on behalf of the board and Digital Grassroots
– Engage in stakeholder mapping to identify opportunities for the board
– Take part in partnership meetings and follow up until the process is complete