Take Back the Tech! (TBTT) is a collaborative global campaign that calls on all information and communications technology (ICT) users, especially women and girls, to take control of technology and use it to change power relations that enable violence against women. Initiated by the Association for Progressive Communications’ Women’s Networking Support Program (now Women’s Rights Program) in 2006 as part of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, the campaign aims to encourage all users to think about the issue of violence against women (VAW) in connection with ICT in various contexts. Campaigners work for the right to define, access, use and shape ICT for its potential to transform power relations toward equality.
The campaign platform facilitates participation by ordinary users, encouraging them to think about their daily technology use through the lens of feminism and thus ICT’s potential impact on women’s rights and VAW. Daily campaign actions explore different aspects of the intersection of VAW and ICT (e.g., privacy violations, ICT access, cyber harassment) and call for experimentation with various applications and tools, such as creating digital postcards and digital stories, sharing online resources for better security, mapping incidents and starting social-media discussions.
A fundamental part of TBTT is sharing campaign ownership by giving users tools and media, such as logos, icons and banners, to adapt and translate for their own communities; users then post their creations to the site to share with and inspire other campaigners. They connect their online and offline activism by sharing photos of marches and lectures on social media, leading workshops on digital storytelling, strengthening demonstrations with online mobilization and more. Participants come as groups and individuals from all over the world, and TBTT has enjoyed significant campaigns in countries such as Brazil, India, Pakistan, DRC, Uganda, the Philippines, Mexico and Uruguay.
Take Back the Tech! initially focused on providing ideas, information and a platform for anyone who had access to some form of ICT to think about how ICT spaces and tools can affect VAW. It was a political call to all ICT users to take action to end violence against women through creative solidarity and strategic collaboration and communications. It always aimed to support dispersed action in different localities, and there was a fair bit of that at the beginning—local campaigns by different people who were translating materials, gathering people together to discuss the issue, organizing street interventions etc.
From 2006 to 2008, TBTT had no specific funding to support the campaign, so it focused mostly on creating content and building a collaborative platform. From 2009 to 2011, the campaign received funding to support work to end online VAW in twelve countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia, and from 2012 to 2015, in seven countries in the same regions.
Funding has made a visible impact, as the campaign has supported concrete, on-the-ground activities that are making a targeted impact on building evidence to understand the specificities of the issue in different spaces, growing effective networks, realizing creative solutions through seed granting and supporting content production from different spaces. The campaign has brought all of these different elements and partners together in a more sustainable network. At the same time, TBTT has been able to consolidate and grow the global campaign, which remains a powerful call to all ICT users, and to strengthen its resources, platforms and spaces.
In 2005, the Association for Progressive Communications developed research papers that looked at the connection between ICT and VAW, an issue that received little attention at the time. From sharing the findings with women’s rights and communication rights advocates in different spaces, APC found this to be a critical issue that compelled further attention and deeper engagement and in 2006 initiated Take Back the Tech! (TBTT) as one way of starting a global conversation on ICT and VAW. Since then, TBTT has implemented 16 Days campaigns every 25 November to 10 December, growing the digital community and building the platform through which any ICT user can learn about the issues, lead campaigns, connect with other campaigners and contribute ideas and content. The theme for the 2013 campaign was Public | Private: Define Your Line, which encouraged users to consider how ICT has complicated our ideas of what public and private mean and how that affects violence against women.
Conceived and developed by Association for Progressive Communications in collaboration with campaigners around the world.