In the Middle East and North Africa, social media is a powerful tool for women to speak out and share their stories, offering empowerment in a region where they often face underrepresentation in formal politics.
The digital space amplifies women's presence, providing empowerment through less regulated platforms. This paper explores the consequences of Online Gender-Based Violence (OGBV), including self-censorship, mental health impact, and real-world violence potential. It highlights OGBV trends affecting high-profile women, posing threats to human rights, gender equality, and democracy. Examining national contexts reveals variations in OGBV manifestations, such as religious discourse and gender stereotypes.
The paper also addresses emerging challenges in capturing Arabic dialects, accessibility risks, and AI's role in creating harmful images. Recommendations call for international recognition of OGBV, knowledge-sharing networks, ongoing policy reviews, and helplines for survivors.
Our project, Words Matter, conducts social media monitoring and research to disinformation and hate speech in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region. You can access ithe projects' reports so far here: First Regional Report, Second Regional Report, Third Regional Report and Fourth Regional Report.
During the implementation of this project, our partners faced a variety of challenges: the military conflict in Sudan - which prevented our Sudanese partner from continuing work on the project - internet shutdowns in Sudan; the changes in the legal framework related to disinformation and hate speech in all the countries of the region; the restricted access to information; and the changes in the social media platforms' policies. The lack of prior research in Jordan on online gender-based violence at a national level presented another significant challenge for Words Matter's partners during the project.