AMWIK partnered with DW Akademie to promote sensitization on Digital safety and literacy skills to 45 Kenyan female Journalism University students through the DW project, women@web. The project that has been in play for 3 years now, aims at protecting Women’s online safety and provides digital security learning grounds for women journalists, content creators and young activists in Kenya and the East African Region. The three-day virtual training ran from 5th-7th October 2021 and participants were drawn from The United States International University (USIU), The University of Nairobi (UoN), and Multimedia University (MMU).
The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic saw people redirect to new models of doing things and today, digitization highlights the growing role of technology in daily life. AMWIK Members, Rachel Ombaka – Digital Journalist at Africa Report and Josephine Mirembe – Media, Digital Communication and Film specialist, were the facilitators for the training. In what seemed like an emphasis on the importance of being digitally literate, they extensively explained the different forms of online harassment that social networks expose one to, the effects and some practical tips on how to manoeuvre the situations.
Trolling, blackmail, impersonation and hacking were among the leading forms of online abuse that arose due to unknown/neglected digital safety practices such as clicking on malicious links, disabling a phone’s location and Bluetooth modes when not in use, use of strong passwords that are hard to crack and enhancing data privacy by using strong firewalls and VPN when connected to a public network.
In May 2016, AMWIK in partnership with Article 19 launched a Women Journalist’s Digital Security survey which found that approximately 7 out of 10 female journalists in Kenya had experienced online harassment in the course of their work. The study showed that most women are harassed by anonymous social media users with Facebook leading at 43%, Twitter at 27% and Instagram at 13%. Today, Kenyan Twitter comprises 70% Men and 30% Women. Twitter trolls have been on the rise making many women fear being so expressive on the app.
AMWIK undertakes initiatives that call for measures that enhance young female Journalists preparedness and mentorship for student journalists is growing. Training and sensitization of aspiring journalists and content creators are important as it helps them find economic value in digital tools and the need to protect themselves while online. At the end of the training, participants made commitments to be more responsible with what they share online, advocate for appropriate use of digital spaces and take advantage of the online opportunities that social media presents by producing impactful content.
By Lilian Mwangi, Intern.