Meet Kawira...

AWID: Who or what inspires you? What do you imagine when you think about “Feminist Futures”?
KM: I think that when it comes right down to it, I am inspired by the belief that we can live genuinely – that we can embrace and express our humanity with all its oddities – and by doing so tap into our greatest power in a very real way. This belief actually also ties in to my idea of a “Feminist Future”, which is one where we get to be as fierce, as vulnerable, as strong… as lovingly self-expressed, as we can be as individuals. I am driven by this belief because I am convinced that its opposite – fear and controlling – are what birth many of the social problems we deal with today.

AWID: Tell us about the context where you live, and how your work speaks to the current realities?
In Kenya, we still live in a fractured society that is built on fundamentally patriarchal, capitalistic ideals that tend to disguise themselves as religious or cultural norms. Women’s security and freedoms are still controlled and policed, the LGBTIQ individual is still oppressed by law, and we have yet to heal from the racial and tribal scars brought on through colonisation and divisive governance. However, the human rights conversations we’ve been having in the community are constantly bearing fruit and shifting the perspectives of the people of my country into something more respectful and unifying. Through my work as an artist, I aim to build on this foundation and foster a culture of love and celebration in ourselves as individuals. Because perhaps if we can learn to truly see, accept, love and celebrate ourselves , we can also recognize, accept, love and celebrate our neighbour’s humanity and nurture more peaceful interactions with our world.

Learn more about Kawira’s work:
#todayin: fighting back: "A feminist internet is one where online violence against women is taken seriously and addressed" - @chitranagarajan
Creating an empowering online future doesn’t just mean ending harassment of women – it means harnessing the internet’s power to show the reality of our lives.
By Chitra Nagarajan

This piece is getting a lot of coverage, and for good reason. From the guardian, emphasis added. 

Although the violence women and girls experience online has received growing attention from the media, politicians and technology companies, what is often missing from conversations is the fact that some women are fighting back. Activists are taking action against online abuse and working towards a feminist internet. When discussing women and the internet, we need to also talk about how feminists are working to reclaim the space.

Last week, I attended the 13th international forum organised by the Association for Women’s Rights in Development in Bahia. The AWIDForum brought together feminist activists from across the world to imagine feminist futures. We spent an entire day working to #ImagineAFeministInternet – and preventing and responding to violence against women and girls was just one part of what this looks like.

Sessions were led by the APC. In 2014, the APC brought together activists to develop the feminist principles of the internet. They were revised and published in August this year and cover themes of access, movements and public participation, economy, expression and agency. They state that a feminist internet is one where women and LGBT people have affordable and equal access and are able to create, design and use technologies to challenge sexism and discrimination. It is one where feminists’ use of the internet is linked to resistance in other spaces and where the internet allows us to connect and demand accountability.

[…] A feminist internet also enables us to challenge the ways capitalism plays out in technological spaces and underlies the drive towards profit, privatisation and control. What does it mean when the primary spaces for so many public and private interactions, including activism, are owned by corporations from one part of the world, run by mainly white men? We need to create alternative forms of economic power around technologies. Using and sharing information about free and open-source software, tools and platforms is key to this.

A feminist internet also allows us to harness the power of the internet to convey the realities of women’s lives to the world and to ensure freedom of sexual and gender expression. It takes agency and consent seriously, designing them into thinking, planning and technology. Women need to be able to make informed decisions of what information about themselves will and will not be online, to realise their rights to privacy, digital security and full control over their data. The Snowden revelations about the extent of surveillance are a feminist issue. Surveillance has been used to police black communities for centuries and to restrict women and their movement, speech and activism. It is a real threat to women who defend human rights. This needs to change

And yes, a feminist internet is one where online violence against women is taken seriously and addressed. This year marks 10 years of the groundbreaking Take Back the Tech campaign, during which thousands of activists have come together in creative ways, online and offline, to prevent violence against women and girls. Examples include the Women of Uganda Network’s SMS campaign mobilising individuals to speak out and stand against violence against women and girls, and#MyFirstHarassment, which spurred thousands of women in Brazil, Mexico and other countries to talk about sexual harassment and abuse online and with families and friends after sexual comments were made about a 12-year-old girl on the Brazilian version of Junior MasterChef.

Rest: What does a feminist internet look like?

My name is Shatha Muaddi. I currently live in Ramallah, a city in the West Bank. I am a volunteer and dancer at the El-Funoun Popular Dance Troupe. I am also an undergraduate student at Birzeit University in Palestine where I study Economics. I hope to continue my higher studies in International Economics.

When I think about “Feminist Futures” a lot comes to mind, but mainly I have a combination of feelings: hope and worry, hope for better opportunities for women and girls around the world, but worry for all the women whose lives are at risk, whether from the societal constraints or from the wars that are still taking place.

Being a part of an organization that always fought for equality on all levels (not only among genders), has helped me to better understand struggle. Most importantly it has allowed me to be a part of ongoing processes of change. 

From the late 1970s when El-Funoun was established, women’s situation in the Palestinian community started to develop and change. When both men and women came together on stage, held hands publicly for the first time and danced on the rhythms of folkloric Palestinian music, a cultural taboo was broken, that’s where women’s role in my opinion started to change. Women were equal to men both on and off the stage. Unfortunately in some parts of Palestine dancing for women is still a taboo, El-Funoun tries to convey its message through reaching out to villages and marginalized areas.