Dorothy Mudavanhu is a Human Rights Researcher at the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, a non- profit  organisation which aims to establish a society that respects all human rights, free from organized violence, torture and cruel inhumane degrading treatment. She holds  a Bachelor of Science and Honors Degree in Psychology awarded by the University of Zimbabwe. 

Although I am a proud owner of an Honors degree in Psychology, I still could not pin point my passion and area of interest, four years after graduating. Although education had been the key to my resounding experience in Human Rights Research, and had recently extended to the global digital environment, I had not found my depth in research work. However, the school on Internet Governance definitely came to my rescue and finally sealed the deal. It put an abrupt end to my career dilemma.

The sessions on overview and history of Internet governance, IG institutions and policy processes, internet infrastructure and name management were an eye opener. After these, I felt like an internet guru, like I was indeed a ‘netizen’ part of an online global community. I became a technocrat in the making to say the least.

The Realization

Little did I know that, no one person, company or government runs the internet. It was interesting to note that the internet is a globally distributed network comprising of many voluntarily interconnected autonomous networks which operate without a central governing body, with each constituent network setting and enforcing its own policies.

The multi-stakeholder model as defined by the Tunis Agenda  paragraph 73(a) then reaffirmed I could eventually link the internet to my human rights research work. More so, the sessions on Internet Governance and Human Rights as well as cyber security issues pointed out the gap between cyber crimes and bringing perpetrators to book. It also enlightened me on the censorship and filtering and the risk of fragmenting the internet, role of intermediaries and data retention together with striking a balance between protection of human rights offline as well as online.

The Practicum

In a nutshell, the overwhelming practicum exercise gave me a glimpse of policy making procedures in governance. Engagement of all multi-stakeholders in Internet governance and eventually reaching a consensus on the recommendations seemed to be a mammoth and impossible task at first. Nevertheless, after reaching common ground and agreeing on the recommendations, I totally agreed with Audrey Hepburn when she said, “there is nothing impossible, the word itself says I’M POSSIBLE!”

Conclusion

As a human rights defender, my scope for protecting human rights has since widened and I have been equipped with tools to lobby and advocate for protection human rights offline as well as online. Many thanks to the AfriSIG and IGF policies!!

AfriSIG Is indeed the Real Deal.

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