We are excited to introduce our newest project Empowering Women in Digital Rights Advocacy. The project, known as EWDRA, began at the end of 2021 and takes place in sub-Saharan Africa. It aims to develop legal communities, in particular women lawyers, to defend, promote, and strengthen freedom of expression online.
As the use of the internet and other communication technologies has surged in most parts of sub-Saharan Africa, and journalists turn to online media, freedom of expression is increasingly shaped by the way digital rights are approached and adapted. Consequently, online journalism becomes more and more important. This in turn introduces more legal challenges that arise exclusively in the online sphere, such as digital privacy and cybercrimes. However, this development simultaneously offers new opportunities. We can create this new era of law in a more inclusive way, overcoming the still male-dominated approach to the discipline.
This project will improve legal expertise among lawyers to successfully litigate digital rights cases and to address new challenges. Moreover, it will contribute to shaping the legal community, encouraging diversity by focusing particularly on women lawyers.
The Digital Rights Advocates Project
EWDRA builds on our two iterations of the Digital Rights Advocacy Project (DRAP), a project through which we specifically addressed digital rights issues in sub-Saharan Africa. In particular, it focused on building lawyers’ capacity, establishing a network of lawyers, and ensuring access to legal defence for journalists through financial support. The DRAP project is successfully complete, now that we have provided litigation trainings for lawyers in East, West and Southern Africa and created newly tailored learning materials. We also hosted peer-to-peer knowledge sharing events and increased access to legal defence. While the project was very successful, we did identify a gender imbalance among the participants and partners we worked with.
The new Empowering Women in Digital Rights Advocacy Project
EWDRA will therefore build on the strengths of our previous project to facilitate an even more unique and practitioner-led approach, while shifting the focus to women lawyers. In order to achieve this goal, we have shaped the project activities to better suit women lawyers. We are hosting activities and litigation training workshops specifically for women lawyers, and we will design gender specific digital rights modules. The project will last for 30 months.
As a cornerstone of the project, we will host three digital rights litigation training workshops across East and West Africa. These trainings include one in-person women-only training, and two advanced trainings, one women-only and one mixed.
Outside the trainings, we will also offer a variety of other event formats. These include quarterly online know-how events, which began in February, and peer-to-peer learning events for women lawyers. In this way, we ensure an accessible and diverse programme that accommodates interested participants from different countries, with different needs.
Finally, we will also continue our financial support under this project. We fund both individual cases and established national media defence centres in the region. We do this to guarantee access to legal assistance for journalists and to promote regional expertise.
With this holistic programme, we hope to contribute to shaping digital rights in an inclusive and diverse way. In particular, we hope to provide a platform for women lawyers that women journalists may find easier to turn to.
This project is funded by the United States Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Affairs (DRL), which also funded our previous DRAP project. We look forward to working with DRL on this new project and express our gratitude.
All information about events and activities will be published here on our website and on our social media platforms.
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