iWatch Africa marks 2021 Open Data Day with focus on women safety online

iWatch Africa, marked the 2021 Open Data Day last Saturday with virtual event with focused on leveraging data to promote women safety within the digital ecosystem in Africa.

The theme for the event was, ‘Leveraging data on abuse of female journalists in Ghana to promote equal development within the digital ecosystem in Africa,’ and was joined by over 40 participants across the continent.

Co-founder of iWatch Africa, Moro Seidu delivered a presentation with focus on the current data on abuse of women journalists in Ghana. Moro stressed that “although the introduction of social media has enhanced communication and participation on social media platforms, it has not been friendly on the female gender.”

Moro cited iWatch Africa 2020 data which showed that while the number of male journalists monitored were three times more than their female counterparts, 46 per cent of the total number of online abuses recorded by iWatch Africa were directed at women journalists in Ghana.

Second speaker, Nashilongo Gervaslus blamed the patriarchal upbringing in many homes across the continent for the sort of accountability which treats women with a different sort of lens and opens them up to abuse. She recommended that governments across the continent introduce cyber-crime legislation to protect women online.

Our final speaker Sheilah Birgen, also stressed the need for newsrooms to provide support for female journalists and protect them against online misogyinistic mobs. Sheilah also argued that, “the stigma relating to these abuses deters some women from speaking about it.”

The event ended with a resolution led by Gideon Sarpong, to work on mainstreaming digital rights units in 50 newsrooms in West Africa to mitigate the risks that online harassment of women journalists poses to the press freedom and equal development within the digital ecosystem in Africa.

The event was supported by Open Knowledge Foundation.

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Gideon Sarpong

Gideon Sarpong is a policy analyst and media practitioner with close to a decade of experience in policy, data and investigative journalism. Gideon is a co-founder of iWatch Africa. He is an author; a fellow of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), Thomson Reuters Foundation, Commonwealth Youth Program ,Free Press Unlimited and Bloomberg Data for Health Initiative. Gideon is the founder of Sustainable Ocean Alliance Ghana. He was a 2021 Policy Leader Fellow at the European University Institute, School of Trans-national Governance in Florence, Italy and 2020/21 Open Internet For Democracy Leader. Gideon was also a 2022 Visiting Scholar/Reuters Fellow at the University of Oxford, UK and was selected as a 2022 TRF/Trust Conference Changemaker. He is currently the Africa Regional Cordinator for Environmental Justice Foundation and a 2023 Pulitzer ORN Fellow. Email: gideonsarpong@iwatchafrica.org.

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