Chiang Mai: Media Matters for Democracy (MMfD) hosted a powerful session titled “Uncovering Violations of Women’s Digital Rights in Authoritarian Regimes” at the prestigious #DRAPAC23 Assembly. The session brought together renowned journalists, activists, and researchers to address the pressing issue of digital rights violations faced by women in authoritarian regimes.
Led by MMfD’s Ayesha Khalid, the session featured a distinguished panel including Freshta Mahboobi, an acclaimed Afghan journalist and writer, Solafa Magdy, an Egyptian journalist and human rights activist, Nenden S. Arum, a researcher and analyst from SAFEnet Indonesia, and Sadaf Khan, co-founder of MMfD.
The discussion highlighted the plight of women journalists and activists who have endured digital abuse, harassment, surveillance, and data leaks under authoritarian regimes. These women have faced threats to their online safety and have been targeted by state machinery. The panellists emphasised the alarming similarities in patterns of abuse across various authoritarian regimes, highlighting the need for urgent action.
Nenden S. Arum presented a comparative analysis of South Asian countries, shedding light on how supposedly non-authoritarian regimes still curtail safe online experiences for women activists and journalists. The regressive policies aimed at restricting online freedom of expression were also discussed. The panellists also examined the role of big tech companies in failing to provide a safe online environment. They emphasised the challenges of content moderation and the persistent presence of disinformation that often goes unchecked, even when reported.
The session at #DRAPAC23 provided a platform to raise awareness about the violations of women’s digital rights in authoritarian regimes and the urgent need for effective measures to address these issues. It underscored the importance of international collaboration, policy reform, and accountability mechanisms to safeguard the digital spaces for women activists and journalists.
MMfD remains committed to advocating for digital rights and working towards a safer and more inclusive online ecosystem.