60% of the world’s population is not online. Michael Moller, Acting Director General of UNOG, was the first to raise the issue during his opening remarks at the launch of the Geneva Internet Platform (GIP) on 8th April. But the fact that in 2014 this is still the stark reality for so many of the world’s people made it one of the key issues emerging from the event. Ambassador Yvette Stevens of Sierra Leone asked how the GIP planned to engage with the issue. In this interview she gives the perspective from a country where Internet access is both very expensive and unreliable, how this disadvantages its’ people in the ‘Information Age’ and why Internet access should be recognised as a Rights issue.
The GIP Workshop on the Internet and small island states (week of 16 June, tbc) will be an early opportunity to continue discussions on the issues. The workshop will be examining the main financial, technological and organisational challenges for small island states. The GIP is polling members to identify other ways in which this can be addressed.
Diversity, Gender Equity and International Organisations
In a comment to the panel discussion, Michele Woods, of WIPO, pointed out another startling reality, incongruous in 2014, that there were no women on the panel, all of whom also came from wealthy countries. In an interview afterwards Michele readily acknowledged that the launch event was not unusual, in the sense that women are under-represented at senior levels across the majority of international organisations, across the globe. And the IT industry has a notoriously poor record, even in the context of this globally low baseline, with a recent studying confirming that women hold only 25% of jobs in the Internet industry. The GIP is calling on members to suggest how issues of gender representation in Internet Governance can be addressed, noting also that, as Michele points out in the interview, the broader issues of inclusiveness and diversity representation need to be constantly on agendas.