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Women human rights defenders from Georgia and Armenia went through a Training of Trainers (ToT) in Digital Security in Tbilisi, during January 26-30, 2016. The ToT was organized by Womens Fund in Georgia and conducted by the cooperation of Front Line Defenders and Tactical Technology Collective – international organizations for protecting human rights activists.
“As a human rights activist and feminist I always knew that there is a constant threat of surveillance and tracking. Since my young years I was very enthusiastic about computers and technology. I was experimenting with my computer and I was a very active gamer which in some ways breaks a lot of stereotypes, because it is not common to see women being active in technology sphere. During the TOT, I felt that I belong here, with other women who know things I know and they speak the same language I speak: the technology language,” says Kara Aghajanyan, a feminist activist from Armenia.
Good digital security practices and understanding of how to assess risk are key components of advocacy work. Human rights defenders in Georgia and Armenia are using computers and the internet in their daily work and electronic means of storing and communicating information is widely used in human rights organisations. However, there is lack of security for digitally stored or communicated information, which is becoming a major problem for human rights defenders.
Feminist activist from Georgia and a ToT participant, Nino Gamisonia recalls: “It is my third training for Digital Security and first for the ToT and after each training I am becoming more and more self-assured that it is very important for activists to know and use digital security tools in daily life and protect themselves and thus, their peer activists from threats and hackers.”
5-day Training of Trainers on Digital Security introduced participants with different techniques and strategies to safeguard digital communications (including encryption, safe document storage, etc.) and the management of sensitive data and information resources. In addition, ToT trained the participants in technical skills and pedagogical approaches, familiarized with existing resources and best practices, taught how to prepare for and conduct a training in order to train and assist fellow activists and human rights organizations in the safe use of information technology.
“For me, Digital Security Training is a sensitive process, aimed at creating a safe space in order to nurture integrated/holistic approach to security and encourage participants to maximally protect their digital identity and information. After the ToT, I will do my best to support fellow feminists and activists to improve the cyber-experience based on their needs and will help them to become aware of the vulnerabilities that surround us in digital world,” says Salome Chagelishvili, a feminist activist and a ToT participant.
“After the ToT, my plan is to incorporate Digital Security and Integrated Security tools and provide training to LGBT community members in Armenia,” says Heghine Babayan, an activist from PINK Armenia.
The goal of the training was to support the local activists in gaining knowledge and necessary tools to work cohesively in the field of digital security and human rights, and to create local support group in order to train and assist activists in the region. The group will be able to support WHRDs in implementation of the skills, tools and tactics so they can better protect their sensitive information and communication. Being gender sensitive and aware of local context is an added value that ToT participants possess, which is an important aspect for working successfully with womens rights organization and LGBTQI communities on the issues of security.
The ToT was possible through the financial support of The Embassy of the Netherlands in Georgia and Kvinna till Kvinnas South Caucasus Office. The trainers from Front Line Defenders and Tactical Technology Collective played key role in making this training happen, to whom we are sincerely grateful.
By Ekaterine Gejadze