Introduction to IGF for Pacific Women

By Letitia Masaea

The Second Pacific Women in ICT Virtual (PICwICT) Meetup saw an introduction to IGF with a panel of regional women IGF experts. A total of 18 Pacific Women in ICT attended to listen, learn and collaborate online.

Sylvia Cadena, IGF MAG member and Head of Programs at the APNIC Foundation; spoke on her experience with the Global IGF where different individuals, societies and/or organisations have different perspectives on what the internet means to them, how the internet works for them as well as how they use the internet. Sylvia sees the IGF space as a life boat for Pacific Women in ICT and others to find the right way to bring the internet to help people and keep things in perspective. Participants were reminded that many different individuals and organisations see, experience and build the internet from different perspectives.

“The internet is everywhere, we all are still learning how to make it ours and how to make it better for the future” was Sylvia’s message to PICwICT.

Other interesting points from Cadena’s presentation are:

  • IGF is a space where discussions happen once a year
  • Multi-stakeholder approach is used in this space where civil society, private sector and academia concerns can be voiced in a same level playing field. Cadena briefly shared her experience on how to keep the room accountable in a multi-stakeholder approach.
  • IGF over the years has made a strong effort to build national & regional participation in under-represented countries and under-represented regions to be considered. Bringing diversity with meaning such as finding them in gender diversity, geography diversity, stakeholder group, points of view diversity and find a way to make it civil and make the conversation productive with positive outcomes.
  • Positives of having the internet:
    • The internet brought Cadena to a different country to be what she is today,
    • the internet got Cadena to connect to other people in the world, Pacific Women in ICT, families and friends living afar. Internet does keep us connected.

Anju Mangal from the World Wide Web Foundation and Vice Chair of Asia-Pacific Regional IGF (APrIGF), on the other hand spoke on her role and experience with the Asia-Pacific Regional IGF and the Pacific IGF. She agreed with Cadena that IGF is a growing platform, that needs people with common sense; to be realistic with the way we approach things, and don’t have to always agree to everything but making sure we find a common goal to translate some of these discussions into policies or even action oriented projects. Some interesting take away from this speaker are:

  • Asia-Pacific Regional IGF (APrIGF)
    • A platform to discuss and collaborate on issues at the regional level
    • National IGF discussions and/or ICT or internet related discussions are brought into this space to advance the internet governance development in Asia-Pacific region
    • Can apply for a fellowship determined by your experience in the internet and ict related work
    • To be enthusiastic and passionate about ICT and the work that they do in their country/region and how they can translate these from the national to the regional and all the way to the global IGF.

Anju encouraged PICwICT to be enthusiastic participants in these Internet Governance Forums and be the voice at the Global platform where Pacific is under-represented. “Stay informed, Be the Pacific Voice” is the message for the session.

The final speaker was former Telecommunications Radiocommunications and Broadcasting Regulator (TRBR) Dalsie Baniala who shared her experience on the National IGF (VAN IGF) and her role in the MAG. It was interesting to learn that Dalsie has a background in Psychology and Business Administration but with her interest and passion was able to venture down the IGF and MEG pathway and acknowledges some of the Women in ICT as her role model in this journey. Interesting points taken from Dalsie’s presentation are:

  • National IGF in Vanuatu
    • Vanuatu IGF institution was established in 2018
    • The institution is currently financially supported by the Regulator’s Office and the Prime Minister’s Office to help maintain the Secretariat and to promote more internet activities across the nation.
    • A lot has been achieved in 2018-2019 and quite more can be achieved however with the covid19 pandemic, this has affected activities lined
    • Key stakeholders of the Vanuatu IGF are: The Police, The ministry of Education, Ministry of community services, Schools and users.
    • It is open to the public to become a member of the VAN IGF. This approach taken as a pull factor to keep interest and people in this space.

Dalsie has been a MAG member since 2018 and encouraged the PICwICT to become a member as it has help developed and broaden her understanding that assist her to contribute to ICT and internet related discussions that affects the Pacific Island Countries. Her experience with MAG has also assisted her in contributing to the Vanuatu Digital Government Roadmap on data privacy and government integration network.

The message Dalsie left behind was, “Be open minded in all the discussions as you are not only representing the organisation or employee that you work for but also representing the community that you are part of.”

The participants were also privileged to hear experiences from Maureen, Swaran and Cherie on their journey in this space and the encouragement to join the Diplo Foundation. For more on Swaran’s experience please refer to this link: https://www.picisoc.org/2020/10/25/personal-blog-aprigf-2020/

This article also appears on PICISOC

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