International Women's Day 2024: Explore the power of inclusion and shape a safer digital world for all

International Women’s Day 2024: Explore the power of inclusion and shape a safer digital world for all

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PUREVPNCybersecurityInternational Women’s Day 2024: Explore the power of inclusion and shape a safer digital world for all

This International Women’s Day 2024, let’s reframe the conversation around online spaces. While it’s crucial to recognize the various difficulties women face on the internet, ranging from cyberbullying and harassment to doxxing and deepfakes, it’s equally important to acknowledge and support them through these struggles while emphasizing the power and potential they possess.

Imagine the internet as a digital arena, a vibrant platform where women’s voices can resound, ideas can compete, and aspirations can be pursued. This vision aligns perfectly with the IWD 2024 theme, “Inspire Inclusion,” fostering a world where women can thrive and contribute meaningfully.

However, the existing reality paints a different picture. Women online often encounter negativity, trolling, and even cyberstalking, forcing them to play defense instead of actively participating. This not only creates feelings of discomfort but also silences their voices and limits their contributions to the digital landscape.

Yet, it’s crucial to remember that women are not passive victims. They are leading the charge in using online platforms to amplify their voices against social injustice, as evidenced by global movements like #MeToo, #HeForShe, #AskHerMore, and #TimesUp. These initiatives highlight the broader fight for gender equality and inclusion, which extends beyond the online landscape to encompass issues like unequal pay and leadership bias.

Therefore, the fight for a safer online space is just one battle. So, this International Women’s Day, let’s reclaim the digital world, making it a secure space for all. Together, we can build a brighter future where everyone, regardless of gender, can thrive online.

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The perilous landscape: Online threats and missed opportunities

The online world, despite its potential for connection and empowerment, paints a concerning picture for women – one filled with threats, negativity, and a constant battle for safety. This hostile online environment deters women from fully participating, leading to missed opportunities on a global scale:

A barrage of negativity

Research studies highlight concerning trends. According to a report by the World Economic Forum in 2021, there’s a notable disparity in how online abuse and harassment affect women, often leading them to limit their online engagement or remain silent. 

This phenomenon carries significant implications beyond individual experiences. When women feel compelled to withhold their voices, it diminishes the collective pool of creativity, innovation, and problem-solving capabilities. 

This fear isn’t just a personal struggle; it has rippling consequences. When women are silenced, the world loses out on a wealth of creativity, innovation, and problem-solving abilities. Imagine the impact on progress and gender equity if half the population feels unsafe expressing their ideas online.

Beyond individual impact

Now if we look beyond individual experiences, a report by the Tech Talent Charter highlights a troubling trend: women are departing from tech roles at a rate double that of men. 

One significant factor contributing to this trend is the absence of a safe and inclusive online environment. This departure of skilled women not only impedes progress but also restricts the flow of knowledge and undermines the cohesion of the online community. It forms a detrimental cycle wherein the deficiency of online inclusivity spills over into critical sectors such as technology, perpetuating the issue further. 

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Amplifying the threat

The situation gets even more concerning for certain groups such as activists. Women activists and human rights defenders are frequently targeted for cyberattacks, experiencing a higher frequency of online violence compared to other women. 

A 2022 report on Violence Against Women in the Online Space in the Arab States found alarming statistics:

  • 70% of women activists had received unwanted sexual content.
  • 62% had been subjected to hateful messages.
  • 58% reported unwanted communication.

Silencing voices

The internet, once hailed as a democratizing force, has unfortunately become a breeding ground for silencing women’s voices. While the phenomenon is not new, the rise of digital platforms has amplified it, creating a double-edged sword for women seeking to participate online.

Online harassment can have real-world consequences, as we’ve seen in cases where women face defamation charges and online backlash for calling out inappropriate behavior. Additionally, misinformation campaigns and false accusations can further silence women and discredit their voices.

Beyond these specific examples, online violence and hate speech have a chilling effect on the overall participation of women and girls in the digital world. Studies show that online abuse can lead women to feel silenced, discredited, and censored, ultimately leading them to withdraw from online spaces altogether. 

This is a significant loss, as the internet has the potential to be a powerful platform for amplifying diverse voices and promoting positive change.

Read more: Privacy alert for women: Are health apps compromising your data?

Online social harassment

Social media is often touted as a platform for marginalized groups to be heard. While it’s true that women can utilize these platforms to raise awareness about important issues they face, they also unfortunately become targets for online abuse

Platforms like Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), and Instagram have become breeding grounds for targeting and harassing women, not just based on their gender or sexuality, but also aimed at undermining their professional credibility.

According to the Plan International Organization global survey on online violence, one in five girls (19%) have left or significantly reduced the use of a social media platform after being harassed. Meanwhile, another one in ten (12%) have changed the way they express themselves.

This online harassment often takes the form of gendered disinformation, which is essentially information designed to silence female voices. This can take various forms, from creating false narratives about women to weaponizing sexist and misogynistic narratives. 

A growing problem

The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the issue. Studies show a significant rise in online violence against women since 2020, with 60% of women reporting experiences during that period. 

This coincides with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, a stark reminder that online violence is a form of gender-based violence that needs to be addressed year-round.

Read more: The online and offline harassment of women is of ‘pandemic proportions’

Slow progress on digital rights

Cyber harassment may be a growing issue spreading across social media platforms, but the truth is that these spaces struggle to control and manage online abuses. The fight for a safer and more inclusive digital space for everyone, especially women and gender minorities, is ongoing. 

One key factor contributing to online violence and hate speech is the moral policing of women and gender minorities online. This pervasive issue is often compounded by the slower progress on digital rights in developing countries. 

Although countries in Europe are experiencing positive strides in tackling online abuse through legislation like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Digital Services Act, the implementation and effectiveness of such laws are still under scrutiny.

Furthermore, simply having laws in place is not enough. The experiences of women, who continue to face online harassment despite existing legal protections, highlight the need for effective enforcement and ensuring the legislation translates into actual protection for women online.

So, the fight for digital rights requires a multifaceted approach:

1. Advocacy and awareness

Continuous efforts are needed to raise awareness about online violence against women and its impact. Besides this, it’s important to hold platforms accountable for enforcing existing legislation and ensuring victims have access to swift and effective remedies.

Developing and implementing clear and unified legal definitions of online harassment and hate speech across jurisdictions.

3. Empowering individuals

Providing women and gender minorities with the necessary information and resources to safeguard themselves online and to report instances of abuse effectively is essential.

4. Leveraging secure technologies

Encouraging the utilization of secure Virtual Private Network (VPN) services, like PureVPN, to enhance online privacy and security for women and gender minorities.

How PureVPN supports a safer digital world for women

Recognizing the severity of this issue, PureVPN stands committed to creating a secure digital landscape for all, specifically championing the safety and empowerment of women:

Enhanced online security

PureVPN provides robust tools like AES 256-bit military-grade encryption, strong security protocols such as WireGuard, DNS leak protection, Kill Switch, and IP masking to safeguard users’ data and online activity. This significantly hampers attempts by malicious individuals.

Empowering through knowledge

PureVPN advocates for digital education and awareness, encouraging users to adopt safe online practices and understand potential threats. By equipping women with the knowledge and tools needed to navigate the digital world confidently, PureVPN is helping them stay protected against cyber attacks. 

Strict no-log policy

PureVPN offers women a secure and reliable solution for protecting their online privacy and security through its no-log policy. This means that PureVPN does not keep records of users’ online activities, ensuring that their browsing history, IP addresses, and connection logs are not stored or tracked.

For women navigating the digital landscape, especially in light of the numerous threats and challenges they face online, PureVPN’s no-log policy provides a crucial layer of protection. By safeguarding their online activities from prying eyes, PureVPN empowers women to browse the internet freely without fear of surveillance, tracking, or potential exploitation.

Advocating for responsible technology

PureVPN acknowledges its responsibility and recognizes the potential for technology to be misused. Hence, we actively engage in conversations and initiatives that promote transparency and accountability within the tech industry, pushing for measures that safeguard users from online harassment and other harmful practices.

The future we deserve

These numbers reveal a pervasive issue with far-reaching consequences. Young women are also impacted at an early age, experiencing various forms of online harassment and abuse. Hence, highlights the urgent need for collective action to create a safer, more inclusive digital space for everyone.

By raising awareness, empowering women with holistic cybersecurity tools like PureVPN, and holding online platforms accountable for user safety, we can work towards a brighter future where the online world becomes a platform for connection, empowerment, and equal opportunities for all. 

On International Women’s Day 2024, let’s reclaim the digital landscape and build a future where women can thrive online, free from fear and harassment.

Together, we can turn this perilous landscape into a thriving space for all. Let’s #InspireInclusion online and create a world where gender equity is a reality, not just a hashtag.

And in case you’re interested in learning more about cybersecurity or seeking to secure your digital footprint, consider using PureVPN – a top-ranked VPN on Trustpilot.

Stay connected to PureVPN Blog for the latest cybersecurity updates. 

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