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My Week at the Gender and Technology Pop-up Institute

The first-of-its-kind Institute was run from 1–7 December 2014 in a small village 1.5 hours away from the city of Berlin at Wartin Schloss, an old castle owned by three professors. When events began on the morning of the 1st of December, I found out that there was around 80 people in the room, 60 participants and 20 facilitators. In my view, that was a great composition, because it allowed us participants to get the attention and assistance that we needed.

The first two days were filled with larger group discussions on topics around technology and gender, digital security, and privacy. On the third day, participants were divided into 2 groups of our own choice to follow workshop tracts on Training Skills or Privacy Advocacy. I chose to join the Privacy Advocacy group where we spoke on a variety of sub-topics including the recent development of digital privacy threats, online violence, and how to carry out privacy advocacy work. By the end of the fifth day, the group had come up with some concrete action plans.

Every day, there were also skill shares by both participants and facilitators, which ranged from how to manage wikis and digital libraries, to conducting online research, and using digital story telling, video advocacy, and digital security skills (that were not covered in the hands-on digital security training sessions). The aforementioned hands-on digital security trainings happened every afternoon, which were split into two groups of intermediate and advanced skills in PGP, VPN, TOR, secure chat, email and mailing lists, and more.

The training sessions ended at 6PM each day but that didn’t mean that the activities stopped there. The hours after dinners were full of activities such as film screenings, discussions, stencil workshops, yoga, capoeira, gingerbread baking competitions, and of course hackerspaces that were open every night for everyone to learn from each other with regards to digital security and beyond, as well as for holding small meetings. In fact, we ended almost every day at around 11PM!

All in all, it was a great life-experience for me. Meeting feminists from all over the world, learning new skills, gaining new knowledge and insights, and knowing that I had support for doing what I have been doing from contemporaries from around the world, all with their own respective stories to share.