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Last updated: Version 2.3 (Updated May 15, 2018).

Friday, May 18 • 10:30 - 11:45
Lightning Talks: Testimony, Identity & Livelihood: Steps Toward Justice

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Session Emcee:  Isaac Stone Fish

Is 'Social Mediation' Reinventing Gender Justice?
(The YP Foundation)

Manasa Priya Vasudevan & Esther Moraes 

In the recent past, particularly in the last 6 months, the global
movement women's rights movement has seen a landmark moment: female
survivors of sexual harassment have resorted to social media platforms such
as Twitter and Facebook as a tool to accuse their harassers, most of whom were powerful men in media, academia and other fields. Rose McGowan who tweeted about Harvey Weinstein or Raya Sarkar who released a crowd-sourced list of testimonies against perpetrators from academia are two cases in point.

There have been mixed responses to this growing trend, even some amount of polarisation, especially among Indian civil society. Many legal practitioners and Human Rights activists were wary of endorsing the unique impact of ‘survivors’ testimonies on social media’ for fear of validating a method that lies outside of ‘due process’ and ‘fair trial’. They reason that due to the ungoverned nature of social media, its platforms are without checks and balances and therefore cannot regulate arbitrary misuse. However, one can argue that social media platforms are indeed regulated by the service providers who have the ultimate power to censor complainants by simply suspending or expelling them from the platform altogether. This became evident when Twitter silenced Rose McGowan and Facebook, Raya Sarkar, promptly after their testimonies began to gather accelerated traction.

This lightning talk will examine the impact of these two of the social media testimonies from the recent past on the accused, complainants, and the heterogeneous networked publics, namely civil society. Our two main questions are: if survivors of sexual violence are resorting to social media as their arena for justice, what does this imply about the existing fora for due process? Additionally, with new and emergent imaginaries around 'justice’ - which may or may not lie within existing legal frameworks - what resolution do survivors seek?

Self-Sovereign Identity (Identity Woman)

 Kaliya Young

Self-Sovereign Identity technology has enormous potential to empower individuals and address privacy challenges globally. It uses shared ledgers (blockchain) to give individuals the power to create and manage their own identifiers, collect verified claims and interact with others on the network on their terms. This lighting talk by one of the pioneers working on this new emerging layer of the internet for 15 years will give a high level picture of how it works covering the core standards and technologies along with outlining some potential use-cases.

Researching women’s lives and livelihoods in the time of sieges and shutdowns (The Bachchao Project)

Speakers: Chinmayi S K & Nonibala Narengbam

According to the tracking website InternetShutdowns.in, there have been 107 shutdowns in India since 2012, of which 47 have happened in the current year. India witnessed the highest number of shutdowns in the world in the year 2016. While the frequent and high number of internet shutdowns in India has a been a topic of much research and activism, there is little information to shine a light on sensitive geographies within India and from the lens of gender. We’re presenting the findings of our recent study in Imphal, Manipur on the nature and impact of intentional Internet shutdowns on the lives and work of feminist activists. The activists and organisations we surveyed locate themselves in different areas of empowerment of women: relief for victims of domestic abuse, increasing the number of women in governance, economic independence, and so on. Many of the women are also entrepreneurs with small or medium businesses, leveraging the availability of the Internet for one part or another of their business operations, such as seeking microloans and selling their goods online.

Manipur has limited avenues for employment and economic growth owing to the terrain and the prevalent political situation. Additionally, support groups for war widows, victims of domestic abuse, et cetera use the Internet for their activities. Internet shutdowns and poor network connectivity have been detrimental to their efforts and work, causing financial losses to their businesses, curbing their human rights, and disempowering them. This intersection of gender, digital and civil rights, activism, and censorship is further complicated in the region due to the politically sensitive situation prevalent since the 1980s and poor air and railway connectivity with the rest of the country. The findings of our study reveal how the women of Imphal balance the online and the offline and the in-between (bad quality of network services) to manage their lives and livelihoods.

What do we do with abusers in our community? The case for transformative justice. (INSTAR BOOKS)

Speakers: Elissa Shevinsky

What do we do with abusers inside our community? This lightning talk makes the case for believing and supporting those who come forward with information about abuse - while also aiming to find room to support rehabilitation for the (alleged) abuser and harm reduction at large.

In the cases of repeat offenders, rehabilitation can seem unlikely or even impossible. What do we do then? And what responsibility do we have for preventing abusers from creating additional harm in new communities, when we ostracize them from our own? In this era of homegrown terrorism with roots in "toxic masculinity," this is a risk worth taking seriously. The speaker can give examples off the record during Q&A.

Assuming we take that problem seriously, what options do we have for harm reduction - keeping in mind that survivors may wish to move on with their lives rather than pursue justice within often-injust government systems. This talk raises questions around what ideal best practices would look like, assuming that we aim to minimize further aggrevating survivors but are willing to go to meaningful measures to contain future violence.

Community-owned data collection: Challenging the extraction of data from local communities (Digital Democracy)

Speakers: Emily Jacobi

Technological advancements and open-source apps like OpenDataKit have revolutionized the way that international projects are run, and every day there are thousands of projects happening around the world where local data is gathered with digital tools, from healthcare to human rights information. Yet although digital tools allow locals to be trained to gather the data, the information they collect almost always is sent to a centralized database kept in a major city or university far away, and almost never returns to the local communities.

It is unjust for international actors to design research projects where the information never gets sent back to the local participants. Yet, this is standard operating procedure.

This Lightning talk will challenge the current design of tools and data collection processes that allows data to be extracted from communities, and show examples of how colonial thinking runs through the design process. The talk will demonstrate alternative ways of designing and executing initiatives that put local groups - especially communities of color, indigenous and poor communities - in control of the information they gather, and the decisions around how, when and where to share it. It will explore both the technical and ethical aspects of how to ensure communities are in control of their own data.

avatar for Isaac Stone Fish

Isaac Stone Fish

Senior Fellow, Asia Society
Chinese influence in America, North Korea, international affairs journalism.
avatar for Emily Jacobi

Emily Jacobi

Founder, Executive Director, Digital Democracy
Emily Jacobi has dedicated her life to using media and technology to amplify marginalized communities. The founder and executive director of Digital Democracy (Dd), she works to decolonize technology by centering the voices and experiences of Indigenous communities, people of color and women. Since 2013, Dd has worked closely with Indigenous peoples in the Amazon Rainforest to build technology for mapping and monitoring environmental... Read More →
avatar for Elissa Shevinsky

Elissa Shevinsky

Author, OR Books
Elissa Shevinsky is a serial entrepreneur. She helped launch Geekcorps (acquired), Everyday Health (IPO) and Brave ($35M ICO.) Shevinsky is currently consulting for crypto startups, and doing research on container security.
avatar for Kaliya Young

Kaliya Young

Founding Partner, Identity Woman in Business
Kaliya, widely known as the Identity Woman, is a top expert in decentralized / self-sovereign identity. She has committed her life to the development of an open standards based identity layer of the internet that empowers people. Kaliya co-founded the Internet Identity Workshop (IIW... Read More →

Friday May 18, 2018 10:30 - 11:45 EDT