YCIG at EuroDIG2020: Youth perspectives on the way forward in IG

Written by Mili Semlani and Meri Baghdasaryan (YCIG Steering Committee). This article was originally posted at YCIG’s website. You can find the original post here.

The youth DC session–Youth Coalition on Internet Governance enabled its Dynamic Coalition members and partners to express and exchange views on the current state of affairs in the field of youth participation in the Internet Governance ecosystem at the pre event session hosted at EuroDIG 2020. 

The session explored some of the European initiatives that have been launched to enhance youth participation in internet governance after Youth IGF Summit held in Berlin in 2019. And it was aimed at creating synergies and finding common topics among regional youth movements and initiatives to conduct capacity enhancement projects and much more.

Developments after Youth IGF Summit 2019 

Carrying forward from the YCIG session at IGF in 2019, Elisabeth Schauermann, YouthDIG/ Youth IGF Summit 2019 reflected on the first ever Youth IGF Summit at Berlin in 2019 that was supported by last year’s IGF country host Germany. As a pre event to IGF 2019, it was an effective platform where youth from all over the world came together to share their messages.

While it was successful, the efforts did not just stop there. Youth participation should anchor all public policy and for this it is important to enable youth with necessary support and resources to participate in internet governance and policy making.

Further, Nika Bakhsoliani, Member of Advisory council on youth, Council of Europe and member of COVID-19 task force of the joint council, highlighted the importance of understanding the concept of meaningful youth participation, which entails that the youth has the necessary means, opportunities and space to participate in and influence decision making processes. Speaking of the effects of COVID-19 pandemic, Nika mentioned that the ongoing issues have been exacerbated, particularly affecting the marginalized youth and youth organisations. 

National Youth IGF movements

Veronica Birindelli, Youth IGF Italy and Joao Pedro Martins, Lusophone Youth IGF, Portugal; spoke about how to start Youth IGFs in their respective countries. While Portugal worked with other Portuguese speaking countries to reach out to a larger crowd, Italy worked with grassroots organisations and went from a 3-people team to a larger community. 

In addition to bringing in computer science students and tech enthusiasts, yIGF organisers also felt the need to speak to young people about the other issues like online safety, etc. that affect everyone in their own way. 

They also suggested that greater synergies amongst youth IGF initiatives across the world will be helpful so they can share content, topics, support etc. Being listed as an official youth initiative on IGF’s website is also helpful in gaining credibility. 

Being a part of youth IGFs enables youth to better engage at IGF main events. It also facilitates collaboration and building independent youth communities also facilitates adding real messages to the global debate.

The way forward

Noha Ashraf, YCIG steering committee member, presented the YCIG questionnaire which saw a greater need for not only tech related topics but also cross cutting ones like interaction of human rights with technology. 

Elnur Karimov,  EEG Regional Engagement Director for Youth Observatory shared his views on Youth Observatory’s (Youth SIG) growing global presence. In 2019, Youth Observatory (YouthSIG) had projects like Creative Networks which was a project competition where the winners attended IGF 2019 and Youth Atlas which highlighted engaged youth in IG from all over the world. Elnur also pointed out current engagement activities for Youth Observatory members like the Regional Activities.

In short,  it goes without saying that youth has a lot to offer to the Internet Governance ecosystem, from organising the first ever global Youth IGF Summit and  initiating national youth IGF movements to bringing the youth perspective and coming up with solutions to such unprecedented issues such as COVID-19 pandemic, together with different stakeholders. 

With COVID-19 pandemic still underway, the community strives to continue working towards enhancement of youth participation in the Internet Governance ecosystem, advance the capacity building programs and initiatives and bring the youth voice to the global discussions and processes. 

Therefore, in order to create synergies between various youth movements all over the globe, we need to define the common goals for these youth initiatives/movements and deliberate upon which formats, tools and frameworks can be applied for reaching these goals. Share with us your opinion in the comments. 

You may access the recording of the full YCIG session here

Written by Mili Semlani and Meri Baghdasaryan (YCIG Steering Committee). This article was originally posted at YCIG’s website. You can find the original post here.

Share your experience as a IGF Youth Ambassador!

Call for Applications: Internet Society IGF Youth Ambassadors ...

To enable traction from our community, we are looking at creating the largest collage of past Youth@IGF Fellows or ISOC Youth Ambassadors!

Here’s the plan:

  1. Share a photo of you as a Youth Fellow/Ambassador , add a short note (250 words max.) of how the program benefited you.
  2. Tag the @YouthObs at Twitter (or “Youth Observatory” at Facebook and Instagram) so that we get a photo of you for the collage.
  3. Add this link for all who want to apply by close of 28th June 2020.:
    https://www.internetsociety.org/fellowship/igf-youth-ambassadors-program/

Timeline for this is from tomorrow till Monday, the 22nd of June, 2020, just two days from now. Our collage should be ready by Wednesday, the 24th.

For a Diverse Internet – Segur@s en Internet & WeAre

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EAPdwgBXoAA9-Fh.jpg

As part of the Creating Networks project competition, which aimed to promote the participation and implementation of projects about Internet Governance, Human Rights and Inclusion led by the Youth, the three of us got selected to go and participate at the Youth Internet Governance Forum (YouthIGF2019) and Internet Governance Forum (IGF 2019) taking place in Berlín, Germany, from November 25th to the 29th of 2019 as Youth Observatory Fellows.

The Youth Observatory gave us the unique opportunity for weeks of learning through webinars and being able to live cybernetically with colleagues from different countries to finally choose our partners and build the project that led us to one of the best experiences of our lives.

The projects we presented at the competition were “Segur@s en Internet” and “WeAre”, which aimed to promote the participation of women and LGBTQI+ youth in the conversations regarding Internet Governance. In both projects, we worked with women and LGBTQI+ organizations and community members in Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia and we gave online and offline workshops about Internet Governance, Human Rights, Advocacy, and Digital Inclusion. Through the activities that took place, we aimed to tackle the issue related to the lack of diversity and representation in the discussion regarding Internet Governance spaces and to create a space for sharing about the issues that our communities face in Latin America, such as online violence and hate speech, freedom speech and situations in which are some spaces where they cannot express themselves freely on the internet. Unfortunately, this situation happens not only in Latin America and the Caribbean but also in places like Africa and the Middle East. We believe that a way to mitigate the impact of these instances if they continue to happen is to give them tools to know their digital rights and how to join the wave of action that is asking to have an Internet ecosystem that includes everyone.

We started our journey in Berlin having our projects and activities in mind. We noticed the considerable effort and value in making such an event and the incredible opportunities to meet others who are also passionate about keeping the health of the Internet ecosystem. However, we also noticed that in the many topics for discussion that were presented, not many reflections nor opinions tackled the issue of access, use, and inclusion of women and the LGBT+ community, especially opinions for these specifics population outside of the Global North, because most of the topics and policies that were discussed tend to focus their information from places like Europe and North America. There were few spaces for Latin American, Asian Pacific, and African perspectives, selected only after most of the main topics were determined. The sessions that did talk about these central perspectives were put as side sessions instead of main ones, which doesn’t help the multistakeholder view that Internet Governance is aiming to achieve.  

We decided to prepare and attend the Open Mic session at the forum, in order to draw the attention to the Internet policymakers and the lawmakers in our region, so they would make a joint collaboration with the Civil society and the private sector to provide the skills and legal framework to allow women and LGBTQI+ community to freely express themselves regardless their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

We also mentioned the lack of representation in the high-level panels regarding trans people. We could verify this by meeting a trans woman, who had been invited to the event. She said she felt that her invitation was due more to filling a gender parity quota rather than an intention to change the event’s participation policies. 

We expressed loud and clear that gender implies not only women and girls, but also LGBTQI+ communities. Therefore, we helped to foster that in the upcoming IGFs this is taken into account, so the promise of an Internet for everyone will truly be real, where no one is left behind outside of the picture, and where we could truly comply with the message of One Internet, One Net, and One Vision.

Belén Giménez (Paraguay) Segur@s en Internet Project

Abdías Zambrano (Panamá) Segur@s en Internet Project

Juan Pájaro (Colombia) Project WeAre