Digital Safety Training for Journalists

Many University students are experiencing a surge of violence and abuse online a shadow pandemic spreading alongside the Covid-19 crisis. As the world marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, many students were given steps to address online abuse so that they can participate online without fear.

As part of our work to tackle this crisis of online gender-based violence and abuse, The Gender Initiative-Uganda carried out a Consultative digital safety training with university students to closely examine concrete threats to women’s rights online. 

Participants shared their experiences with Cyber security followed by a discussion on privacy and skills to stay safe online especially now that all their lectures have moved online. 

Throughout the sessions, the students described troubling experiences of being targeted strategically across multiple platforms; having their images manipulated to humiliate and sexualize them; and receiving threats with deliberate typos designed to avoid detection by algorithms.

 

Violence against women, including online gender-based violence, threatens progress on gender equality. Today, on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, we urge governments and stakeholders to take action so that the web is a safe and empowering space for everyone.

Any person regardless of their gender should be able to work without the fear of being insulted, threatened or bullied. Yet for many women journalists in Northern Uganda, such threats and abusive online comments have become common, there are also reports of female journalists getting physically abused while on the ground reporting, let alone the online threats. Still in Northern Uganda, women journalists have increased their number in the news room, they have now breezed into the male bastion of hard stories, among them politics, corruption, conflict, governance, environment with confidence and impact and this has made them prone to such online and physical attacks. Most of these women experience many threats ranging from sexual violence, digital/online surveillance, online account hacking, verbal and online intimidation including threats to family and this has really made their work difficult. Participants were:
  • Equipped with skills on how to make their browsing and social networking safe and protected.
  • Trained on basic computer security for operating systems, data storage and software updates. In addition, safety and security tips for using social media such as Facebook and Twitter, email and mobile communications.
  • Acquired techniques for responding to surveillance and censorship using anonymous browser tools, Virtual Private Networks (VPN) and Encryption.
  • Women journalists, media workers were encouraged to take digital safety precautions and lead safer online lives.

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