IREX’s Global Framework for Addressing Online Threats to Women’s Public Participation

IREX’s Global Framework for Addressing Online Threats to Women’s Public Participation


Online abuse targeting women in digital spaces is an increasingly widespread problem. Known as technology-facilitated gender-based violence (TFGBV), it is a pervasive threat to democratic values, human rights, peace, security, and safety of individuals and societies worldwide. While increased access to technology provides opportunities for economic growth, access to education, and gives voice to unheard populations, technology-facilitated gender-based violence drastically diminishes these benefits, particularly for women. Globally, 85% of women have witnessed online violence against other women, and nearly 40% of women have experienced online violence themselves.

In addition to its toll on those experiencing and witnessing this abuse, the subsequent reduction of women’s public and political participation impacts institutions, communities, and nations by exacerbating the global trend of polarization and digital authoritarianism.

While universally pervasive, the origins, targets, and impacts of technology-facilitated gender-based violence are highly contextual and require locally designed solutions. Addressing the violence effectively requires collaboration with diverse stakeholders – including accountable parties, support organizations, bystanders, and survivors—to alter the norms and behaviors that contribute to violence on online platforms; to mitigate the consequences of harm that has occurred; and to support women to participate equitably in civic and political life.

IREX’s Commitment and Response

By combining immediate threat mitigation with actions addressing systems-level causes, IREX supports a holistic response to the violence that women face on digital platforms: 

  1. Awareness to enable action: advocacy campaigns and evidence sharing generate behavioral change among the public and key stakeholders who influence collective action.
  2. Prevention and root causes: reducing technology-facilitated gender-based violence via preventative action targeting its root causes, which include misogynistic norms and attitudes, lack of women in digital leadership and design, and insufficient legal and regulatory protections, maintains focus on long-term solutions.
  3. Engagement of accountable parties: collaboration with accountable parties, such as governments, technology platforms, and regulators, and key stakeholders like educators, civil society, and online networks enables effective systems-level responses.
  4. Addressing perpetration: understanding the profiles and motivations behind those who perpetrate violence online supports efforts to address impunity.
  5. Empowerment of survivors:  support to survivors and organizations with tools for protection and response enables them to stay safely engaged in digital spaces and in the design of technology-facilitated gender-based violence mitigation efforts without placing the burden of response on their shoulders.
  6. Addressing the threat to rights and democracy: engaging a broad array of partners who seek to advance democratic governance and human rights, while maintaining survivor-centeredness and integrating perspectives of women-led organizations, enables stronger responses to technology-facilitated gender-based violence than if it were only addressed as a “women’s issue”.

IREX Addresses Technology-Facilitated Gender-Based Violence as a Dual Threat to Human Rights and to Democracy

Graphic describing threats to rights and human potential, democracy and leadership and what IREX does to address them

Initiative Highlights

  • The USAID-funded Transform Digital Spaces (Transform) program pilots new approaches to preventing, mitigating, and responding to TFGBV, with a focus on addressing violence experienced by women in politics and public life in Georgia, Kenya, and Guatemala. To date, Transform has trained 70 organizations on technology-facilitated gender-based violence and provided access to protection and recovery tools to over 600 survivors.
  • The Securing Access for Free Expression (SAFE) program provides digital security training and psycho-social support for at-risk civil society activists and media professionals on four continents. Following SAFE trainings, 95% of participants reported that they had stayed in their profession, and 63% reported that their organization had implemented new or updated safety procedures and protocols.

  • In Jordan, the USAID-funded Takamol Gender Program partnered with over 400 civil society and government organizations to implement gender-related initiatives. Takamol used strategic online and offline campaigns to address gendered hate speech and foster dialogue on women’s civic engagement, rights, and gender; supporting 79 community-based organizations to engage 38,600 people across Jordan.


Contact information: Katya Vogt, and Elayne Deelen,