Around the globe, freedom of expression varies wildly in definition, scope, and level of access. The impact of the digital age on perceptions and censorship of speech has been felt across the political spectrum on a worldwide scale. In the debate over what counts as free expression and how it should work in practice, we often lose sight of how different forms of censorship can have a negative impact on different communities, and especially marginalized or vulnerable ones. This International Women’s Day, spend some time with four stories of hope and inspiration that teach us how to reflect on the past to build a better future.

1. Podcast Episode: Safer Sex Work Makes a Safer Internet

An internet that is safe for sex workers is an internet that is safer for everyone. Though the effects of stigmatization and criminalization run deep, the sex worker community exemplifies how technology can help people reduce harm, share support, and offer experienced analysis to protect each other. Public interest technology lawyer Kendra Albert and sex worker, activist, and researcher Danielle Blunt have been fighting for sex workers’ online rights for years and say that holding online platforms legally responsible for user speech can lead to censorship that hurts us all. They join EFF’s Cindy Cohn and Jason Kelley in this podcast to talk about protecting all of our free speech rights.

2. Speaking Freely: Sandra Ordoñez

Sandra (Sandy) Ordoñez is dedicated to protecting women being harassed online. Sandra is an experienced community engagement specialist, a proud NYC Latina resident of Sunset Park in Brooklyn, and a recipient of Fundación Carolina’s Hispanic Leadership Award. She is also a long-time diversity and inclusion advocate, with extensive experience incubating and creating FLOSS and Internet Freedom community tools. In this interview with EFF’s Jillian C. York, Sandra discusses free speech and how communities that are often the most directly affected are the last consulted.

3. Story: Coded Resistance, the Comic!

From the days of chattel slavery until the modern Black Lives Matter movement, Black communities have developed innovative ways to fight back against oppression. EFF's Director of Engineering, Alexis Hancock, documented this important history of codes, ciphers, underground telecommunications and dance in a blog post that became one of our favorite articles of 2021. In collaboration with The Nib and illustrator Chelsea Saunders, "Coded Resistance" was adapted into comic form to further explore these stories, from the coded songs of Harriet Tubman to Darnella Frazier recording the murder of George Floyd.

4. Speaking Freely: Evan Greer

Evan Greer is many things: a musician, an activist for LGBTQ issues, the Deputy Director of Fight for the Future, and a true believer in the free and open internet. In this interview, EFF’s Jillian C. York spoke with Evan about the state of free expression, and what we should be doing to protect the internet for future activism. Among the many topics discussed was how policies that promote censorship—no matter how well-intentioned—have historically benefited the powerful and harmed vulnerable or marginalized communities. Evan talks about what we as free expression activists should do to get at that tension and find solutions that work for everyone in society.

This blog is part of our International Women’s Day series. Read other articles about the fight for gender justice and equitable digital rights for all.

  1. Four Reasons to Protect the Internet this International Women’s Day
  2. Four Infosec Tools for Resistance this International Women’s Day
  3. Four Actions You Can Take To Protect Digital Rights this International Women’s Day