From where I stand: “Through this digital world, we make real change and promote peace”Born and raised in Morocco, Yasmina Benslimane witnessed first-hand how oppressive laws affect women and force them to remain silent out of fear of breaking the status quo. She runs Politics4Her, a feminist blog and youth-led movement that advocates for the inclusion of girls and women in politics.
My generation is often labelled as “digital natives” – we must believe and invest in our expertise in digital technologies to promote peacebuilding and women’s rights.
There is a huge digital divide, with 360 million young people lacking access to the Internet, particularly in developing countries. Girls and women often have even less access to technology and the Internet. Internet access is not only a driver for economic growth, gender equality, human rights, but also inclusive peacebuilding.
When the pandemic hit in March 2020, I was impressed by the increase in Moroccan advocates’ pages. We have now become a coalition and work together. Whenever issues pertaining to human rights violations, women's rights violations, or gender-based violence arise, we act. Through social media, we have been mobilizing, peacefully. Many young female peacebuilders are actively advocating for the implementation of gender-inclusive policies as well as the deployment of more women in peacekeeping missions, while others have taken up the fight in the virtual sphere.
COVID-19 has exacerbated inequalities, increasing challenges for women across the globe. We must continue to raise our voices for the [marginalized] because it is our duty as the next generation of peacebuilders and global citizens. As movements across the world have shown, from Senegal to Palestine or even more recently Cuba, the youth is at the frontline, spreading awareness thanks to what has become the 21st century's most powerful tool: social media.
Though we face challenges of misinformation, disinformation, hate speech, attacks and threats, together we are stronger, we are agents of change. Through this digital world, we make real change and promote peace, equality and justice – values we should all stand for. For the first time in history, people that have for decades seen their freedom taken away, have a tool to drastically shift the power balance. We must not overlook the power and potential of the Internet in promoting peacebuilding and women’s rights.”
Yasmina Benslimane is the founder of Politics4Her, a feminist youth-led blog and movement that encourages young women and girls’ inclusive participation in politics. Benslimane believes in the power of digital technologies to promote peace. She participated in UN Women’s Young Women Peacebuilders Programme, which established a network of 50 young women peacebuilders from the Arab States and built their capacity in conflict analysis and resolution, peace processes, and peace and justice from a gender perspective.