Forging US-Southeast Asia Cooperation on Women, Peace, and Cybersecurity

In November 2023, the Pacific Forum, in collaboration with the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) Office of Women, Peace, & Security (WPS), hosted a regional workshop titled “Forging US-Southeast Asia Cooperation on Women, Peace, and Cybersecurity” at the Peninsula Manila, Makati City, Philippines. This event was a crucial component of the US-ASEAN Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, delving into the integration of cybersecurity within the WPS agenda. Our Founder & Executive Director, Agita Pasaribu, represented Bullyid App at this significant workshop, highlighting the importance of incorporating gender perspectives into cybersecurity policies, processes, and programs to enhance the effectiveness of prevention and response.

Workshop Objectives and Organizational Focus

The workshop aimed to achieve several objectives that align with Bullyid App’s mission to combat cyber harassment and promote digital safety:

  1. Using a Gender Perspective in Cyber Policy and Strategy

    • Emphasizing the need to incorporate gender perspectives into cyber policy formulation and implementation to address unique vulnerabilities faced by diverse populations.
  2. Sharing Best Practices and Lessons Learned

    • Facilitating the exchange of best practices between the US and Southeast Asia to improve cyber capacity, considering variances in digital maturity and culture.
  3. Exploring Practical Cyber Policy Recommendations

    • Developing actionable cyber policy recommendations that prioritize gender inclusion and respond to the evolving landscape of cyber threats.

Key Findings and Strategic Recommendations

Understanding the Intersection of Gender and Cybersecurity

Cyber threats pose significant challenges to international security, impacting personal privacy, financial stability, and even physical safety. The workshop underscored the need to understand how gender intersects with cybersecurity, recognizing that men, women, and gender-diverse individuals may experience and respond to cyber threats differently. This understanding is crucial for developing more inclusive and effective strategies in cybercrime prevention, cyber diplomacy, and cyber defense.

Gender-Inclusive Cyber Policies

The workshop highlighted the importance of localized and context-specific approaches to cybersecurity, comprehensive and gender-responsive protection mechanisms, and multi-sectoral dialogues. Experts advocated for policies that leverage the perspectives of women and gender-diverse populations in addressing cybersecurity concerns, ensuring that cyber defense and diplomacy efforts consider the experiences, needs, and concerns of all individuals affected by cyber policies and practices.

Addressing Cyber Harassment and Digital Violence

Bullyid App’s core mission aligns with the workshop’s emphasis on combating technology-facilitated violence against women and girls. Key findings include:

  • Cyber Harassment in Southeast Asia: Women and young girls in Southeast Asia disproportionately suffer from online fraud, phishing scams, and cyber harassment. The proliferation of deepfakes has exacerbated these vulnerabilities, making women and girls more susceptible to cyberbullying and abuse.
  • Gender-Specific Cybersecurity Concerns: The need for comprehensive legal frameworks to address technology-facilitated GBV, including cyberstalking, harassment, and deepfake-based sexual abuse, was emphasized. Mandating safety-by-design principles for technology companies and ensuring accountability for preventing online GBV were identified as critical measures.

Enhancing Cyber Capacity Through Gender Inclusion

Promoting inclusive growth in the cybersecurity workforce is essential for addressing the myriad cybersecurity challenges in Southeast Asia. Structural barriers continue to prevent women from sustaining viable careers in cybersecurity. The workshop called for the formation of women, peace, and cybersecurity advocates and the creation of a community of champions to elevate awareness of women’s capabilities in this field.

Bullyid App’s Commitment to Gender-Inclusive Cybersecurity

At Bullyid App, we are dedicated to leveraging our platform to support victims of cyber harassment and promote digital safety. Our participation in the workshop underscores our commitment to advancing gender-inclusive cybersecurity policies and practices. By integrating gender perspectives into our initiatives, we aim to:

  1. Enhance Prevention and Response Mechanisms

    • Strengthening our digital services to better address the unique vulnerabilities faced by women and gender-diverse individuals in cyberspace.
  2. Advocate for Comprehensive Legal Frameworks

    • Collaborating with policymakers to develop robust legal frameworks that criminalize technology-facilitated GBV and ensure accountability for perpetrators.
  3. Foster Inclusive Growth in Cybersecurity

    • Promoting education and training opportunities for women in cybersecurity, advocating for gender-responsive policies in recruitment and retention, and supporting the development of women’s technical and negotiation skills.

Moving Forward

The outcomes of the “Forging US-Southeast Asia Cooperation on Women, Peace, and Cybersecurity” workshop provide a roadmap for advancing gender-inclusive cybersecurity in the Indo-Pacific region. As we continue to advocate for digital safety and gender equity, we invite stakeholders, partners, and the broader community to join us in this crucial mission.