EngageMedia Blog

Announcing our Myanmar Program

by EM News November 20, 2014


We are excited to announce that EngageMedia is launching a series of activities in Myanmar to amplify the impact of human rights and environmental video through effective collection, curation and outreach. As some of you will remember, we conducted a scoping study on the use of video to support democracy in Myanmar last year, and we aim to put some of the recommendations from that report into practice.

The first phase of the programme is to curate and promote videos from Myanmar to a global and regional audience, as well as to promote videos on regional issues that resonate with audiences in Myanmar, through translation and subtitling. Through this, we hope to build stronger connections between video advocates and campaigners in Myanmar and those in the region focusing on issues in Myanmar. An ongoing networking and collaboration effort will enhance the knowledge sharing of video advocates in Myanmar via the development of a shared community of exchange.

In the second phase of the program, we are planning a video camp that will bring video activists from Southeast Asia together with those in Myanmar to foster networking, peer exchange and collaborations. You can take a look at previous video camps we ran: Camp Sambel I and Camp Sambel II. The camp will take place in Myanmar and the dates for the camp will be announced shortly, so keep watching this space.

We are interested in partnerships and collaborations as we launch these activities. If you are a video maker, campaigner, activist, media outlet or an enthusiast with interest in Myanmar, we would love to hear from you, and discuss how we might be able to work together. Please get in touch!

Deadline Extension: RightsCon Southeast Asia Proposals Due 1 December

by Becky Hurwitz November 13, 2014
RightsCon proposal deadline extended until 1 December. Be a part of the program and submit your proposal.


A quick update about RightsCon Southeast Asia. We’ve received some excellent submissions, and are encouraged by the breadth of the proposals that people around the region and the world are preparing for submission.

To account for this volume of interest, we’re extending the deadline to December 1st.

Propose your sessions here! And don’t forget, you can reach out to us about the submission process - we’re happy to answer questions, play matchmaker if you’re looking for session partners, or just to chat.

Speakers Confirmed

Many corporations, governments, and institutions have committed to sending high-level representatives, including Twitter, CloudFlare, Mozilla, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, ICANN, ISOC, Amnesty International.

Some participant attendees thus far include: Dan Bross (Senior Director of Corporate Citizenship, Microsoft), Eileen Donahoe (Director of Global Affairs, Human Rights Watch), Richard Stallman (Founder, GNU Project and Free Software Foundation), Charles Mok (Hong Kong Tech Sector Legislative Representative), Nnenna Nwakanma (FLOSS activist and organizer, Web We Want Foundation), Roger Dingledine (Director, Tor Project), and more to be announced, soon!

Programming Committee Assembling

To help us craft the most relevant, action-oriented program possible, we’re enlisting some expert help.  Joining our Advisory Committee are experts from every sector, and all corners of the globe.

Newly confirmed are May-Ann Lim (Young Leaders’ Programme Singapore), Rebecca MacKinnon (New America Foundation),  Jacob Applebaum (Independent Researcher), Matt Perault (Facebook), Shita Laksmi (Hivos Southeast Asia), Jed Adao (TechSoup Asia), Nick Grossman (Union Square Ventures), Sara Harrington (LinkedIn), Andrew Puddephatt (Global Partners Digital), and more!

Listening to Papua

by Dhyta Caturani November 18, 2014

Upon hearing the name 'Papua' in Indonesia, people usually thing of two things: ‘independence struggle' and ‘Freeport’. They both might be valid examples to describe what’s going on in Papua, but they are also over-simplification. West Papua, like any other place in Indonesia, is multi-dimensional in its character and in terms of the problems faced by the people. Only that the problems are worse.

For example, large scale economic development is taking place right across West Papua in the form of logging, agricultural plantations, mining and gas extraction. The Papuans enjoy very weak or non-existent land rights and many are losing vast areas of land with little compensation. Everywhere this is creating conflict and hardship for local people.

And although a significant number of Papuans work in the public service, senior positions are mostly held by migrants while most private sector employment is also in low paid jobs. Business and economic activities are dominated by non-Papuan migrants.

Education and health services are also very poor in most regions with few doctors and medical staff and few teachers who actually turn up for work. The HIV-AIDS rate in West Papua is around 2% (although the data is incomplete), making it the worst affected area of Indonesia. The Papuans are the poorest, worst educated and most unhealthy population group in Indonesia, even though their province is the richest in the country in natural resources.

Freeport is widely considered to be causing the most exploitation and environmental devastation, there are also a plenty of other corporations that do just that. Take the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE) program, for example, whose propaganda claims the planned large-scale cultivation of rice-fields, integrated with other food items would provide for Indonesia’s food security in the future. Activist groups such as awasMIFEE have documented that 2.5 million hectares of now under control of MIFEE was seized from indigenous people.

Instead of food security, West Papuans now face food crises, socio-cultural problems and several other issues. The story of MIFEE is told in one of the films from the first Papuan Voices collection, Ironic Survival (featured below).

Information that comes out of Papua today is limited. International media remains banned in West Papua, as seen with the recent arrest of two French journalists who now face five years in jail.

From 2011-2012, we ran a project in Papua called Papuan Voices, which was a project that combined capacity building and video production by focusing on training and producing content by citizen video journalists and human rights advocates in Meruake and Jayapura.

For the second edition of Papuan Voices we worked with participants from Wamena and Sorong. It is currently in the process of post-production and is set to be released in January 2015.

Listening to Papua

One of the films in Papuan Voices II, Mutiara Dalam Noken (Pearl in the Noken), tells the story of a Papuan woman who was fortunate enough to get a higher education and became a doctor. She then devoted her life to treat the ill in very remote areas in Papua. And she does that to carry on the legacy of her parents who did the same when they were young health officers.

And that's just one out of eight amazing stories from Papuan Voices II that we can't wait to share with the world. So stay tuned to our website and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more updates in the lead up to the official launch!

Meet the Amazing Advisors of RightsCon 2015!

by Becky Hurwitz November 13, 2014
Introducing the all-star group of advisors for RightsCon Southeast Asia.
On March 24-25 2015 in Manila, we are co-hosting RightsCon Southeast Asia with our partners Access and Foundation for Media Alternatives.

This event an brings together activists, advocates, researchers, media makers, corporate tech developers and business owners, and government officials to discuss human rights and the internet.

Access has hosted this event 3 times already -- twice in the USA in Silicon Valley and once in Brazil in Rio de Janeiro. RightsCon Silicon Valley 2014 was an international event, and with RightsCon coming to Southeast Asia, the event will focus on regional challenges and opportunities.

We have an all-star group of advisors, who you'll be hearing more from in the coming months in a series of EngageMedia interviews. These advisors are located around Southeast Asia and work in all of the previously mentioned sectors. They are bringing their knowledge and networks to the event and will help us to shape the program and activities. Read more about them here.

RightsCon Advisors

RightsCon Southeast Asia Advisors:

You're invited to be a part of the program. Submit a session proposal and email conference [at] accessnow [dot] org if you have any questions.

Coming Soon: Papuan Voices II

by EM News November 10, 2014

Coming Soon: Papuan Voices II

We're gearing up for the launch of the second edition of Papuan Voices in December. We have just finished post-production on it and we can't wait to share it with you!

Papuan Voices is a project training and producing content by citizen video journalists and human rights advocates in West Papua. Papuan Voices aims to bring the everyday stories of West Papuans to a wider audience.

The first phase of the project was conducted in Jayapura and Meruake in 2012, and concluded with the production of 9 advocacy videos. The award-winning 'Love Letter to the Soldier' is from that collection.

For Papuan Voices II, we trained and worked with a new group of activists in Wamena and Sorong to produce 8 videos that reflect the rich culture, society, and environment there. The video below is a short documentary made by filmmaker Adithio Novello on the process of sharing and learning during the project.

Watch this space for more updates in the lead up to the official launch! We can't wait to show you the amazing work everyone has done over the past year!

RightsCon Southeast Asia 2015

by EM News November 06, 2014
We've launched our proposal form for #RightsCon Southeast Asia scheduled for March 24-25 in Manila!

We are delighted to announce that we have confirmed the dates and location for RightsCon Southeast AsiaThis March 24-25, 2015, we will gather at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Manila - so mark your calendars now!

RightsCon Southeast Asia’s agenda will focus on regional and global challenges that you will undoubtedly recognize to be of critical importance - like data protection, privacy, freedom of expression, infrastructure development, surveillance, and limiting risk in the ICT sector.

As you are aware, RightsCons are more than just gatherings of talking heads. At RightsCon Southeast Asia, we will have a mixture of interactive and participant-driven sessions, host strategy and implementation sessions, and provide opportunities for the private sector, government decision-makers, civil society and academics to meet face to face.

Here are a few next steps:

Submit a Session by November 14

Our conferences are built by the experts: our participants.  That’s why we’re inviting you to help us build the program. Submit your proposals for talks, topics, workshops, scrums and more. We encourage you to think of session formats and topics that will engage participants and will advance your work and field. To submit a session and read our guidelines, visit: https://rightscon.org/submitasession/guidelines.php

Attending the Conference

Tickets are now on sale. To show our appreciation of you, our friends, we’re delighted to offer you 25% off the already deeply reduced early bird ticket prices (tickets start at just $50)! Tickets are on sale at rightscon.org (enter code EB25 if you have problems with the above link).

We’d love for you to join us at this important event, which is being co-hosted by EngageMedia, Access , and local partner Foundation for Media Alternatives.

If you have any questions about your session proposal or attending, please let us know, contact conference@accessnow.org.

We look forward to seeing you in March!

RightsCon Southeast Asia 2015

Calling all Video for Change practitioners: Please help inform our Impact toolkit!

by EM News October 29, 2014

Over the past 18 months the video4change network has been working on a toolkit to help Video for Change practitioners design for and evaluate impact. We’ve been blogging about this research here.

We are now at a stage where we’d really like some inputs from other people working on Video for Change initiatives. Please help us out by sharing your experience of Video for Change and impact by filling in this short

We define Video for Change as: “the use of video to support social movements, document human rights violations, raise awareness on social issues, and influence social change.”

Our Video for Change Impact Guide draft currently integrates four ethical principles into its design. These are:

  • Power Analysis: This is about analysing and challenging existing power imbalances.
  • Participation and Inclusion: This is about considering how your initiative can include and develop the capacities of marginalised and under-represented actors and communities.
  • Accountability: This is about taking steps to ensure your initiative is accountable to the communities, groups or actors it is seeking to support.
  • Risk Mitigation: This is about having a clear plan for identifying and addressing risks.
We are now inviting individuals and organisations to complete our short Video for Change Impact survey so that we can understand if you already have processes and methods for designing for and measuring impact and if the above ethical principles are valued by you. This survey should not take more than 10 minutes to complete. We’ll keep the survey open until 31 October 2014.

We are also inviting survey respondents to stay in touch if they want to be updated on our guide or if they want to become testing partners.

Your inputs would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks so much!

Tanya Notley, Cheekay Cinco and Andrew Lowenthal

[Feel free to get in touch to find out more about the Video for Change Impact project by contacting EngageMedia]

Kanal KPK Launched with Support from EngageMedia

by yerry October 07, 2014
Videos from EngageMedia have been featured on the newly launched online media channel of Indonesia's Corruption Eradication Commission.

The Commission, which is more commonly known in Indonesian as Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi (KPK) is a government agency established to fight corruption. The KPK was formed after special consideration of the extraordinary nature of corruption in Indonesia, which has become systemic and widespread, and has violated the human rights of the Indonesian people.

One of the videos currently featured on the Kanal KPK website is from our previous Moviemento project. 'No To Supermall' is about an initiative in Balikpapan, Kalimantan, where for years youth in this oil producing city have called for critical assessment of most of the supermall projects around the city.

Moviemento itself was a collaborative project conducted with Transparency International Indonesiai, where we trained youth communities who were already campaigning on issues such as gender, the environment, social development, and culture, to produce their own videos with anti-corruption messages and youth perspectives. The project aimed to strengthen active citizenship and advocacy capacity among Transparency International's partner organizations in Indonesia, especially the youth.

We are looking forward to further supporting KPK's website and other media initiatives against corruption in the country in the near future.

Why do the Feminist Principles of the Internet Matter?

by Dhyta Caturani September 16, 2014
The Internet is believed to be an open space for everyone to express themselves freely. So why do we need a set of principles to "govern" us?

“A woman like you deserves to be raped!”

I was shocked and terrified when I received the above comment in reply to my Facebook status. And it didn't stop there. The person also sent me a private message on Facebook threatening to rape me.

No, this was not a random person I befriended on Facebook. This was someone I had actually met in a couple of training sessions in real life. I knew this person, and this person knew me. If he intended to act on his threat, he could have easily done so. Thankfully, he didn't, but that's not the point.

The point is that his comment and message are representative of the misogynistic perspective that he (I am 100% sure) applies in his daily life. The harm done was the same, however, as his comment and threat made me feel fear, anxiety, and a certain sense of trauma.

And what led to his messages? Some women's rights activists and I were organizing a “mini skirt action” as a protest to a government official who publicly blamed a victim of rape for wearing a mini skirt while taking public transport. The protest called on women to come wearing mini skirts or whatever they were comfortable with and tell the particular government official, other public figures, and society that women have the right to wear whatever we want. And posting that call to protest on my Facebook and Twitter accounts apparently made me someone who "deserved to be raped".

Name calling, threats, and misogynistic comments online are the things that we, women and sexuality rights activists, have to face on a daily basis here in Indonesia. And I'm sure it also happens in many other parts of the world. People call these the consequences of being activists, be it offline or online. But why is it when it happens offline, there are legal procedures to deal with it, and when it happens online, we're told to just sleep on it because there's nothing we can do about it?

Yes, that's what happened when that serious threat was made to me and I tried to find procedures to deal with it. I found none. Firstly, online violence is not considered as violence. And secondly, in the name of freedom of expression people have the right to say whatever they want (although that's not the case when it comes to other issues such as politics and religion, where people can be arrested for views expressed online).

It got me thinking, that women and LGBTQI persons are considered as second class citizens even in the online world, which in the beginning was thought would be a space where there with no segregation and discrimination on the basis of social and political class, race, gender identity, and sexual orientations. Women and LGBTQI are not considered as agencies who have the capacity and rights to make our own decisions in regard to our own bodies, minds and lives in any of the spaces we live in.

As the Internet evolved and came to the digital era we are in today, we realize that it's just the same as the "real" world. What people express online represents what people would express offline, only meaner because there's an aspect of anonymity in it. What people think of women and LGBTQI remains the same. The root cause is the same, which in regards to gender and sexuality issues, is a misogynistic mindset. To make it even more complicated is the possibility that online violence can lead to offline violence and vice versa.

The example I've mentioned may seem to be only about online violence against women and LGBTQI. But in reality, the misogynistic perspective on the Internet stretches way further than just that, which includes, but is not limited to, unequal access to the internet (statistics show that there are 200 million more men who have access to the internet than women) which can lead to less opportunities to access information, education and economic freedom for women, control over the bodies and sexual lives of women, and a host of other safety and security issues.

How do we then deal with those issues? In the offline world, as women's rights activists, we constantly formulate strategies for our work with the goal of dismantling patriarchy in order to end violence against women and create gender equality. So we need to extend the fight we engage in our movement and translate our offline strategies to be used online.

For this reason, the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) brought together 50 feminists from 30 countries and five continents in April 2014 to discuss these issues. The week-long meeting (which EngageMedia also participated in) was full of different perspectives, backgrounds, cultures and contexts that everyone brought in. After many agreements and disagreements, the attendees finally came up with what we call 'The Feminist Principles of the Internet', and here they are:

1. A feminist internet starts with and works towards empowering more women and queer persons – in all our diversities – to dismantle patriarchy. This includes universal, affordable, unfettered, unconditional and equal access to the internet.

2. A feminist internet is an extension, reflection and continuum of our movements and resistance in other spaces, public and private. Our agency lies in us deciding as individuals and collectives what aspects of our lives to politicize and/or publicize on the internet.

3. The internet is a transformative public and political space. It facilitates new forms of citizenship that enable individuals to claim, construct, and express our selves, genders, sexualities. This includes connecting across territories, demanding accountability and transparency, and significant opportunities for feminist movement-building.

4. Violence online and tech-related violence are part of the continuum of gender-based violence. The misogynistic attacks, threats, intimidation, and policing experienced by women and queers LGBTQI people is are real, harmful, and alarming. It is our collective responsibility as different internet stakeholders to prevent, respond to, and resist this violence.

5. There is a need to resist the religious right, along with other extremist forces, and the state, in monopolizing their claim over morality in silencing feminist voices at national and international levels. We must claim the power of the internet to amplify alternative and diverse narratives of women’s lived realities.

6. As feminist activists, we believe in challenging the patriarchal spaces that currently control the internet and putting more feminists and queers LGBTQI people at the decision-making tables. We believe in democratizing the legislation and regulation of the internet as well as diffusing ownership and power of global and local networks.

7. Feminist interrogation of the neoliberal capitalist logic that drives the internet is critical to destabilize, dismantle, and create alternative forms of economic power that are grounded on principles of the collective, solidarity, and openness.

8. As feminist activists, we are politically committed to creating and experimenting with technology utilizing open source tools and platforms. Promoting, disseminating, and sharing knowledge about the use of such tools is central to our praxis.

9. The internet’s role in enabling access to critical information – including on health, pleasure, and risks – to communities, cultural expression, and conversation is essential, and must be supported and protected.

10. Surveillance by default is the tool of patriarchy to control and restrict rights both online and offline. The right to privacy and to exercise full control over our own data is a critical principle for a safer, open internet for all. Equal attention needs to be paid to surveillance practices by individuals against each other, as well as the private sector and non-state actors, in addition to the state.

11. Everyone has the right to be forgotten on the internet. This includes being able to access all our personal data and information online, and to be able to exercise control over, including knowing who has access to them and under what conditions, and being able to delete them forever. However, this right needs to be balanced against the right to access public information, transparency and accountability.

12. It is our inalienable right to choose, express, and experiment with our diverse sexualities on the internet. Anonymity enables this.

13. We strongly object to the efforts of state and non-state actors to control, regulate and restrict the sexual lives of consenting people and how this is expressed and practiced on the internet. We recognize this as part of the larger political project of moral policing, censorship and hierarchization of citizenship and rights.

14. We recognize our role as feminists and internet rights advocates in securing a safe, healthy, and informative internet for children and young people. This includes promoting digital and social safety practices. At the same time, we acknowledge children’s rights to healthy development, which includes access to positive information about sexuality at critical times in their development. We believe in including the voices and experiences of young people in the decisions made about harmful content.

15. We recognize that the issue of pornography online is a human rights and labor issue, and has to do with agency, consent, autonomy and choice. We reject simple causal linkages made between consumption of pornographic content and violence against women. We also reject the umbrella term of pornographic content labeled to any sexuality content such as educational material, SOGIE (sexual orientation, gender identity and expression) content, and expression related to women’s sexuality.

(Source: genderit.org)

Why do the principles matter?

One can argue that we should not be online if we don't want to also accept the consequences, such as its inequality and misogynistic nature. But we can answer that with a question: Why are human rights principles so important in the offline world and then become so unimportant in the online world?

In the Internet era, online life cannot be separated from offline life. It has almost become a basic human necessity, even more so when the offline space cannot provide, as far as information and education goes, for example.

We need the Internet, but not the Internet that we have today. We need an Internet that values our online life as much as we value our offline life, with dignity, respect towards others, and equal rights for all. Having said that, instead of not simply using the internet, we need to fight for our rights online, just as we fight for our rights in life instead of simply stopping to live, right?

The set of principles is for us to do just that. Fighting for women's and sexuality rights on the Internet to contribute to the global movement to dismantle the patriarchal system in all the spaces we live in, and to bring about the changes in perspectives that we want to see. This is why the Feminist Principles of the Internet matter.

The Feminist Principles of the Internet is of course not a bible nor is it a fixed document that will govern our online life. As any set of principles, they can evolve according to the development of circumstances. It is a guide for us to use in accordance to our own contexts. It is a joint effort in our continued struggle.

Some people say that we are good at expressing what we don't want but not at expressing what we do want. But now we can say: This is what we want. This is the feminist Internet that we want!

To read more feminist reflections on Internet policies please visit GenderIT.org

9th Internet Governance Forum: Gender and Sexuality Online

by Dhyta Caturani September 11, 2014
As I mentioned in my previous blogpost, there were several sessions and side meetings at the 9th Internet Governance Forum (IGF). Out of those, there were only a few on gender and sexuality, and this post is about the ones I had the privilege to attend.

On September 1st, before the IGF officially started, the Association For Progresssive Communications (APC), organized a day-long pre-event meeting on Sex, Rights, and Internet Governance. The meeting brought together women's rights, sex rights, and internet rights activists together to discuss those intersecting issues.

The meeting introduced the Feminist Principles of the Internet, which we treated as an evolving document for the basis of our discussion. Some of the attendees were part of the group working on the principles back in April 2014 (EngageMedia was also part of that group), while others were still new to the principles.

We discussed the final draft of the 15 principles which covers issues including internet rights for women and LGBTQI, online violence against women and LGBTQI, hate speech, sexual expression, child protection, and pornography. The plenary discussion provided a space for attendees to express their questions or concerns regarding the principles, be it in the substance or wording.

After the introduction and plenary on the principles, we divided ourselves into four groups to have more focused discussions on different principles with guiding questions such as how the principles resonate for us, what more do we want to flesh out from them, and how we can use the principles in our respective countries.

I joined the group that discussed gender-based violence, where we discussed how to make the connection between online and offline violence, how to apply the principles in our own contexts, especially considering that the principles are not necessarily easy to understand in aspects of language, terminology, and substance. I personally need to think of reasons or arguments on why these principles matter to get buy-ins from activists in Indonesia because I imagine that many would think that online violence is trivial when there are so many women suffering from violence in the "real world". It was a fruitful discussion to give us starting points to work on adopting the principles.

The pre-event meeting also gave an introduction about the IGF to those who have never attended it before. The challenge was how we could integrate analysis on gender and sexuality into the spaces where most of the speakers or attendees did not necessarily have gender perspectives. So we agreed to work our best to raise the issues of gender and sexuality in as many sessions as possible, while also observing how gender dynamics played out in the different spaces at the IGF (gender composition of speakers, how many women and men spoke up at the sessions, etc.) as references for our future work.

9th Internet Governance Forum: Gender and Sexuality Online

The next day, when the IGF officially started, one of the first sessions was the Gender Dynamic Coalition led by APC. The session discussed the issue of unequal access to the internet for men and women. From the statistics presented, there are 200 million more men who have access to the internet than women. As Argentinian minister Olga Cavalli puts it, less internet access for women leads to less access to higher education and economic freedom.

The meeting also discussed strategies on how to overcome this digital divide between men and women using experiences shared by the speakers from different countries. One of the speakers, Titi Aksmani from Google, spoke about her experiences related to some projects she has undertaken to bring infrastructure closer to the people as one of solutions to the digital divide. However, Bisakha Datta from India responded by asking who then will use that infrastructure the most? Men or women? In relation to helpful information and education that can be found online, Kamel Manaf from Indonesia related her experience with the blocking of LGBT sites that were considered to have pornographic content, although that wasn't the case in reality.

The Gender Dynamic Coalition also launched the Feminist Principles of the Internet at the end of the session, making the document officially public.

Another event I attended that raised gender issues was 'Anonymity by Design: Protecting While Connecting'. The main topic there that caught my interest was on whether one should stay public about his or her identity in the name of freedom of expression which should protect everyones' rights to speak without consequences from either the government or other individuals, or stay anonymous in order to be safe and secure from violence.

The latter was expressed from the perspective of women and LGBT persons who need to find and share critical information which might include sex education, safe abortion information, and rape experience stories. A teenager from the UK said that young people are more confident to ask questions or seek information online, especially on sex education and when they are anonymous. The Youth IGF survey revealed that 65% of respondents chose to be anonymous in order to protect their personal information.

My next blogpost will be about why the Feminist Principles of the Internet matter.