Facebook hosted a Women’s Safety round table in Kenya last week with participants from NGOs, academia, women’s rights groups, and safety organizations from Kenya and across Sub-Saharan Africa to highlight how the community can work together to create a harassment-free online environment where everyone can feel safe to share and interact. The roundtable coincided with Safer Internet Day (February 9, 2016), a 100-country effort to make the Internet a better place for everyone who uses it.
The Kenyan roundtable was the first to be held around the world, with others to follow in Ireland, the Middle East, India and the US. The focus was on addressing the issues of online harassment of women.
“At Facebook, safety is at the centre of how we build products,” said Antigone Davis, Head of Global Safety for Facebook. “We have a community of nearly 1.6 billion people, and we work hard to develop our global policies that focus on safety, encouraging online respect, and honouring the cultural diversity of our platform. It is absolutely critical that we spend time with our partners around the world to listen and learn how we can do better as we develop our policies and educate people about how they can stay safe.”
“Facebook is an important way for people in Africa to connect and share, and we’re committed to working with our partners to ensure our community, especially women, feel safe when they use our platform,” said Ebele Okobi, Head of Public Policy Africa for Facebook. “This roundtable, our first in a global series, has proved invaluable to gaining insight to our approach in Kenya and across Sub-Sarahan Africa. We look forward to continuing the conversation in order to better reflect our community and develop the right policies.”
This year’s Safer Internet Day’s theme is Play Your Part for a Better Internet. Facebook is working with partners such as Watoto Watch in Kenya, SHIFT in Nigeria and J Initiative in Ghana to ensure the safety and education of their communities and address the needs of vulnerable people.
Thirty organisations were represented at the roundtable in Nairobi, including participants from NGOs, academia, women’s rights groups, and safety organisations. Representatives from the following organisations participated in the roundtable: S.K.I.R.T.S. (Socially Keen Individuals Redefining Tech Spaces, Women in Tech Africa, African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD), The Women’s Technology Empowerment Centre (W.TEC), Her Zimbabwe, Digital Ubuntu, Hivos East Africa, Coalition On Violence Against Women (COVAW), Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET), UN Habitat, iHub, NEST, Association for Progressive Communications (APC), Roshani Consultancy Services, Si Jeunesse Savait (SJS), Spinlet, Local Development Research Institute (LDRI), Research ICT Africa (RIA), Botswana Information Technology Society (BITS), International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT), Misa Malawi, Isis Women International Cross Cultural Exchange (Isis-WICCE), Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)-Zambia Chapter, Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK), Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), OpenNet Africa initiative, Akili Dada, FRIDA The Young Feminist Fund and Safaricom.
African countries represented included Kenya, Malawi, Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Uganda, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Tanzania, and Zambia.