The internet is a tool for activism and more importantly, an extension or continuum of the public space in which women in all our diversity live our social and political lives and experience many of the same structural inequalities and discrimination.
Women includes adolescents, girls, lesbian, bisexual and queer women, trans people, and non-binary identities, and groups that remain in the margins of the mainstream women’s movement for various reasons. There is also recognition that “Sri Lankan” is not a homogenous or unifying identity for all women in Sri Lanka and the term is used to identify where the work is located.
The number of internet users in Sri Lanka is rapidly increasing, with an internet penetration rate of 32% in 2017. Studies show women and girls’ increased access to the internet is directly proportional to the increase of violence against them online and this is proving true in Sri Lanka. With an increased use of digital spaces, including by activists, journalists and public figures, it has increasingly become a site for sexism, misogyny, homophobia and transphobia, intersecting with ethno-religious nationalism.
Ghosha is a response to such violations and discrimination and also an opportunity for women in all our diversity to occupy and use the internet to exercise our rights, especially our right to sexual and gender expression. Ghosha recognizes that our capacities to do this varies from rudimentary to advanced and is committed to designing research, tools, knowledge resources and training programmes that are rooted in the needs of specific groups.
Ghosha is deliberately an unregistered initiative and acts as an anchor for human rights activists, academics from various disciplines, and women in tech to collaborate in order to create, support, and promote women’s voices on the internet. Not registering is both a way to incentivize a cross-movement building and collaborative approach to all work done as Ghosha and also a measure to explore alternatives to the current model of nonprofit funding. So far this has enabled Ghosha to reach and sustain a small and fluid network of accomplices with common values who are formally or informally organized.