Indonesian changemakers reflected on the challenges and opportunities to strengthen the digital rights movement in the country during the solidarity event held in Jakarta last January 14, 2023, Day 3 of the Asia-Pacific Digital Rights Forum.
Organised by EngageMedia in partnership with the Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet) and the Indonesia Jentera School of Law, the event was one of five in-person events held across the region, with other events held simultaneously in Dhaka, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, and Manila.
Taking a step back and reflecting on rights activism in Indonesia
During the event, participants took a step back from the usual discussions on external threats to digital rights, and reflected on the challenges faced within the digital rights movement. Building upon previous findings on EngageMedia’s Digital Rights Landscape research, the discussions were split into five separate but interrelated issues: cultivating an inclusive workplace environment, developing stronger Asia-Pacific and grassroot networks, maintaining knowledge management within and between organisations, building technological infrastructure and organisational digital security, and sustaining donors and funding.
During the discussions, participants shared some of the key concerns in their advocacy work. This included exploring better strategies such as using stories in their campaigns to humanise rights issues to their audiences and build an environment of understanding that connects to other issue areas.
Funding was also a key concern, with participants noting how current funding models and mechanisms are contributing to burnout. Participants called for improvements in these mechanisms and policies to better support activists in their work.
Participants also noted the lack of systematic knowledge sharing between civil society organisations (CSOs), creating overlaps and redundancies in their work. While most CSOs have a vague understanding of what others are doing, they do not really engage with each others’ work.
Looking inward and critically reflecting on areas for improvement within the digital rights movement is important to improve cohesion. Participants noted how digital rights issues are getting more complex, requiring more nuanced takes that consider the multi-faceted and interdisciplinary nature of many of these issues.
A key highlight in the event were discussions on how best to improve the capacity of CSOs in engaging in digital rights advocacy. Participants emphasised the need for better tools and training on knowledge production for more effective advocacy. CSOs should also share knowledge internally and with other organisations working on different issue areas so they can collaborate on solutions requiring multi-stakeholder perspectives.
EngageMedia invites changemakers to continue the discussions over at Forum.EngageMedia.org/Discuss.