Gender, peace and technology fellowship programme
The rapid increase in the use of technology, especially mobile phones, tablets, and laptops has given rise to several dangers in Sri Lanka due to the extensive use of social media and related technologies. These dangers include the rise of hate speech against ethnic groups, specifically minority communities and others such as women and the LGBTQIA+ community. Meanwhile, the spillover effects of COVID-19 at the time also posed an additional threat to society, especially in terms of the spread of misinformation as well as hate speech due to particular ethnic-related disputes, riots, and political incitement of ethnic conflict that took place during the pandemic. Therefore due to the increasingly visible spread of misinformation, fake news, hate speech, and misogynistic speech that began circulating on social media, his project was implemented to counter such speech in online spaces to ensure that there are no spillover effects that could potentially lead to offline violence and detriment to anyone’s safety. The project was funded by UNWomen and with the collaboration of Mythos Labs.
Ninety female participants were selected from Western, Eastern and Northern provinces in Sri Lanka. They were trained to develop counter-narratives against the online harmful narratives. This fellowship was conducted in all three national languages in Sri Lanka. This fellowship programme was held in two stages. During the first stage, all the participants were trained and they gained knowledge about creative concepts and techniques which can assist them in developing counter-narratives. Next, they were encouraged to develop counter-narratives. The training stage inaugurated from mid-February to the end of month April 2022. The second stage, (content creation stage) commenced after the conclusion of the training and ended on 31 August 2022. Trilingual material in the form of comics, infographics and short videos on freedom of expression and online privacy, including on gender-based violence online, were created and disseminated among participants.