“Take Back the Tech! has always been a celebration of women and tech”
| By Flavia Fascendini
The Take Back the Tech! (TBTT) campaign, along with Luchadoras and La Sandía Digital from Mexico, recently won the Womanity Award for the Prevention of Violence Against Women. Lulú Barrera and Erika Smith, from Luchadoras and APC respectively, shared with APCNews what is next, and what this recognition means in the context of TBTT’s 10th anniversary. “Everything is possible when we work together using tech and connecting different spaces and strategies,” they say.
APCNews: TBTT is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. What does receiving this award mean in this context?
Lulú Barrera: On one hand it means that what the campaign aims for is still a relevant and concerning issue throughout the world. We’ve been working to eradicate violence against women (VAW) for years and yet we’ve seen how cultural change as a long-term goal adopts new forms of manifestation over time. Tech, gender and power are implied in so many different levels but remain largely unquestioned as such. Online violence is growing and in countries like Mexico is just starting to be recognised. On the other hand it speaks about the great capacity TBTT has to be open, adaptable and locally relevant, and that is the most amazing achievement of the campaign. It is not impositional or copyrighted, rather it is open and allows itself to be “owned”, and to speak to lived realities on the ground. It allows its campaigners to actually use technologies to address gender issues and that in itself – the process of shaping, messaging and disseminating a campaign you can feel is yours – is an empowering process, that reverts the disempowering effects of tech when used to harm.
Erika Smith: It’s hard to believe it’s already the 10th anniversary of Take Back the Tech! Certainly one thing that TBTT has always been characterised as is a celebration of women and tech and excitement around it, the feeling that anything and everything is possible when we work together using tech and connecting different spaces and strategies. The Womanity Prize not only intensifies our excitement but also underscores the idea that new ways to address gender-based violence are not only possible but necessary. It’s always been refreshing – and contradictory – to be so excited about a campaign during a period when we are also reminded again and again how ever-present gender-based violence is in every sphere of women’s and girls’ lives: during the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence, 25 November-10 December.
There is always a lot of anger and indignation when we see the harsh reality in every single country and community and see that the epidemic of violence and crisis continues. Certainly over the years, TBTT has expanded to cover activities year-round and have other campaigns, but this time period is still vital – and now with the Womanity Award, TBTT can even better question how to put this conception of violence as normal and ever-present on its head, offering alternatives that celebrate women and where gender-based violence is not only questioned but torn apart.
Receiving the Womanity Award is incredible recognition to all the TBTT campaigners who over the years have done so many different things – from simple individual acts of sharing better privacy configurations with families or schoolmates to holding sessions to question the use of certain platforms to quilting together resistance. The award affirms that every single action matters and builds the possibility of transformation. And that Womanity wants to focus on making this local in one country especially, completely connects with Take Back the Tech’s basic principles of developing campaigns and actions that make sense in people’s local context, that address local needs and priorities, attacking a huge global structural problem that plays itself out on women’s individual and collective lives.