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, program was designed specifically for those who are new to the digital rights space and sought to build the capacities of emerging digital activists on developing 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, 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 finale 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.