Online Academy Equips Women with Crucial Digital Advocacy Skills

Speeches Shim

Wednesday, August 19, 2020
Virtual graduation ceremony for the Women Leadership Academy

The Advanced Women Leadership Academy equipped female political and civil society activists with the key digital skills needed for effective political engagement and advocacy.  Violence against women in politics, often taking the form of online bullying and harassment, has discouraged women from taking roles in public life.  Over the course of eight weeks, the USAID-funded online academy, implemented by the National Democratic Institute, equipped the 20 participants with the tools needed to fight back.

Mrs. Vjosa Osmani, the Speaker of the Assembly of Kosovo, opened the virtual graduation ceremony held on July 10, as an inspiring example of a female politician who has combated and overcome online violence herself as the first woman Speaker of the Assembly.  She remarked, “Gendered disinformation has severe implications for equal and diverse representation in modern politics.  The mere existence and acceptance of such language in politics and public life has consistently legitimized misogyny as well as everyday violence against women, which unfortunately has been on the rise during these months of isolation.”  

USAID Mission Director, Lisa Magno, joined her during the ceremony and applauded the important work of the participants and organizers.  She highlighted that “women’s empowerment does not have to stop in the face of the pandemic.”  

The women participants are already applying the knowledge and skills gained during the academy.  They have submitted policy recommendations, organized policy conferences, raised funds for safe houses and victims of domestic violence, and jointly advocated for free childcare for single parents, better-organized classrooms, and environmental protection.  As a direct result of this training, the women participants can now also more easily recognize and combat online violence and debunk any gendered disinformation encountered online.