Tips and tricks on how to engage in internet governance spaces
Over the years, it’s becoming increasingly that we need to work together to bring in gender and sexuality and diversity into the internet governance spaces. This is not different from how we work in other spaces and other rights issues. Here are some tips and tricks learnt through trial and error from the past global, regional, and national IGFs which can help us work better and more systematically together:
Connect with your allies before you meet them
Prior to the meeting itself, ask around and find out who else is going to be present in the space. This will help in planning ahead in terms of collaboration, meetings which can be organised around the IGF, and simply to have fun.
Read the schedule
The schedule with the session briefs will tell you a lot about that particular IGF. How many sessions on gender will be happening there? Are there any sessions looking at sexuality? What about accessibility and disability? Spending some time with the schedule will help in strategising better on the interventions around gender and sexuality.
Have open conversations on who is attending which session so that people can bring in gender and sexuality in sessions where they are sidelined or ignored. People can also team up and attend sessions so that it is not the same person making several interventions which may be seen as taking up too much space. This will also be very useful for those attending the IGF for the first time and are still figuring out how to intervene.
Fill in gender report cards
The very first time when Gender Report Cards were introduced by APC, they were filled in by APC staff, partners and members. This can be done in the regional, national, and local IGFs were Gender Report Cards are not yet formalised. Through this, we can ensure that there is some data available on gender diversity and inclusion from the space. Distribute the Gender Report Card format well in advance through email, text messengers, or even bluetooth.
Use technology and tools to your advantage. In the past, groups on Telegram and Signal have been very helpful for immediate coordination at the IGF spaces. For example, in case someone wants additional support in a session, they can message on the group and request for it. Questions which need to be raised can be shared on the group so that it is not just one person who keeps intervening. Several sessions, especially main sessions, also use tools like Slido to take more questions from the audience. Make maximum use of this. For example, in a main session on human rights which did not have any conversation on gender and sexuality, someone used Slido to ask a question on the rights of LGBTQ persons online. When this question was ignored by the speakers, others in the room reposted the question and brought it to the panel’s attention. The anonymity afforded by tools like this is also helpful. The remote participation platform can also be used efficiently.
Debrief and connect at the end of a day
Set aside 30min at the end of each day to debrief and connect with each other on the day and sessions from that day. This will help in addressing any concerns from that day, and also in planning for the next day, including changing strategies. This time can also be used to remind everyone to send in their Gender Report Cards from the day to the person collating the same.
Ask for help
The IGF spaces can sometimes seem very formal, and it can be intimidating too. Remember that you have friends and allies with you, and you can always reach out for any help or support. And this is not restricted to only those who are physically present there.