To help ensure the elimination of all forms of discrimination on the basis of gender, women and men should have equal access to learn about, define, access, use and shape the Internet. Efforts to increase access should therefore recognise and redress existing gender inequalities, including women’s under- representation in decision-making roles, especially in Internet governance.
Aside from addressing the gender digital divide (mentioned under Principle 2 and 13 of this Declaration), the creation and promotion of online content that reflects women’s voices and needs, and promotes and supports women’s rights, should be encouraged. Processes and mechanisms that enable the full, active and equal participation of women and girls in decision making about how the Internet is shaped and governed should be developed and strengthened. Conscious that the online environment reflects the inequality that women and girls face in wider society, the core principles underpinning the Internet – decentralisation, creativity, community and empowerment of users – should be used to achieve gender equality online. Wide-ranging efforts, including comprehensive legislation on rights to equality before the law and to non-discrimination, education, social dialogue and awareness-raising, should be the primary means to address the underlying problems of gender inequality and discrimination. Women and girls should be empowered to act against gender inequality replicated on the Internet, including by using tools enabling collective monitoring of various forms of inequality, individualised tools that allow them to track and limit the availability of personal information about them online (including public sources of data), and improved usability for anonymity and pseudonymity-protecting tools. Additionally, all restrictions aimed at prohibiting gender-based hatred that constitutes an incitement to violence, discrimination or hostility (‘incitement’) should fully comply with the following conditions: Grounds for prohibiting advocacy that constitutes incitement should include gender; The intent to incite others to commit acts of discrimination, hostility or violence should be considered a crucial and distinguishing element of incitement; Legislation prohibiting incitement should include specific and clear reference to incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence with references to Article 20(2) of the ICCPR and should avoid broader or less specific language and should conform to the three-part test of legality, proportionality and necessity; Criminal law penalties should be limited to the most severe forms of incitement and used only as a last resort in strictly justifiable situations, when no other means appears capable of achieving the desired protection.