Lia Kiessling

Author Archives: Lia Kiessling

This Data Privacy Day Take Steps to Protect Your Data

As champions of an open, globally-secure, and trusted Internet, International Data Privacy Day is a big deal around these parts.

But making sure you’re able to share what you want, when you want, should be something the world stands for more than once a year. Every day should be Data Privacy Day.

These days, it feels all too common to hear stories about policy or law enforcement officials trying to create backdoors into technologies like encryption. These backdoors could put our online security at risk.

Just a little over one month ago, Business Insider reported that smart home devices dominated Christmas 2018 sales on Amazon, while the Alexa app, which enables people to control those smart devices, was the most downloaded on Google Play and the Apple App store on Christmas Day.

As the Internet becomes more and more a part of our everyday lives, each of us can take actions to ensure that privacy and security are a top priority.

Let’s come together on Data Privacy Day to celebrate the possibilities an open, globally connected, trusted, and secure Internet brings. Here are ways you can help make it happen where you live:

(And don’t forget to make a cake! Continue reading

Make It Equal: Celebrating Women Who Are Making a Difference

On 22nd September, 22 women will join a growing community of people who believe in a world of equal opportunity for women and girls.

The Equals in Tech Award is an annual event that gives awards to those who are helping girls and women get equal access, skills, and opportunities online and in the tech industry.

It’s our second year at the event and every year the finalists never fall short of inspiration.

This year, 22 finalists were chosen from among 357 nominations from 80 countries. They’re creating AI Accelerators, exploring new ways to train entrepreneurs, and empowering female healthcare professionals. Out of the 22 finalists, 5 winners will be chosen, each representing a specific category.

EQUALS is a global network delivered by a committed partnership of corporate leaders, governments, nonprofit organizations, communities, and individuals around the world working together to bridge the digital gender divide – by bringing women to tech, and tech to women – and in so doing, bettering the lives of millions worldwide.  To find out more, visit their website.

If you’re thinking about submitting an entry for next year’s Equals in Tech Award – here’s what you need to know.

Be a part of it! Continue reading

Smart Shopping Starts Today!

Let’s face it – things are different now than when we were kids.

I grew up with technology. My weekends consisted of frantically switching out floppy disks while on 13-inch-green-screen missions to destroy cubism-esque dragons, orcs and whatever else I could with my wizard powers. It taught me critical reasoning, innovative thinking, and gave me the courage to try new things.

Now that I’m a mom, I’m an advocate for my kids to use tech. But today’s tech is different. Now the Internet is everywhere and it’s a part of our everyday lives, in everyday things. Coffeemakers, toothbrushes, toasters, televisions and, yes – even teeth.

Did you ever think we’d have connected homes, let alone bras that might detect breast cancer?

These everyday things are known as the Internet of Things – IoT for short. It’s already everywhere.

Manufacturers are building connected things faster than most of us can keep up. While that means there’s lots of cool things hitting the shelves, many haven’t been built with our security or privacy in mind. That’s why we hear stories ranging from the somewhat humorous to the terrifying.

But we’re hungry for IoT devices – buying them as fast as manufacturers can Continue reading

Juma Baldeh: Breaking Barriers to Access in Gambia

How do you shift the cultural stigma around technology and gender? As Juma Baldeh has proven in Gambia, you do it one girl at a time. Baldeh founded Hackathon Girls Banjul for girls ages 8 to 18 in her home country, in coordination with the Mozilla Foundation. As the first technology club of its kind there, members receive six months of free weekly classes on web literacy and basic computing skills. More importantly, the club gives more than 40 girls a safe space to collaborate and share experiences as they work together on projects for a tech-savvy Gambia.

“Too often I witness young girls, who are skilled in math and science, lose hope as they prepare for interviews and professional positions,” Baldeh said. “Right now, many girls in this field leave it because they think computer jobs are too difficult and they lose confidence at some point.”

The club started with a small space and just five girls, training to be proficient in basic computing skills, computer programing, online security and privacy, and research and networking. Through these skills the girls can then go on to civic participation, economic empowerment, and leadership roles. One of the many problems with Continue reading

Kate Ekanem: Promoting the Education, Literacy, and Empowerment of Girls in Nigeria

While the personal is almost always political, sometimes the person affected takes action that changes the course of history. That’s what Kate Ekanem has done. The founder of Kate Tales Foundation has spent her entire adult life promoting education, literacy, and empowerment of girls in her home country of Nigeria. And it started with herself.

“I was born into a family stuck with intense adversity, and a rural community with no access to quality education, basic health facility, reliable or no Internet facility, or social and educational opportunities,” Ekanem said. “There was no public library, no clean water, poor power supply, and streets filled with littered debris. Girls were resolving to getting pregnant [by] older men to escape the sting of poverty they were born into.”

After losing her mother at the age of two, Ekanem struggled as the only girl in a family of half-brothers. Her education took a backseat to the boys—something that she never fully accepted.

“I know what it feels like to rise in the morning and have nothing to eat. I know what it feels like to have an unending burning question, but dare not ask, because girls were not supposed to talk when Continue reading

Makkiya Jawed: At The Intersection of Technology and Medicine

The intersection between technology and medicine is perhaps one of the most important junctions of our time, and, in a world where access is king, many people—in fact, entire countries—can be left behind in the dust. That’s where Makkiya Jawed comes in as the director of social enterprise for Sehat Kahani in Pakistan.

The tech wiz joined forces with two doctors who launched the health tech enterprise, which circumvents Pakistan’s tradition of women having to choose family or career. It also caters to populations often overlooked by established medical communities.

“Sehat Kahani is a tele-health platform that aims to democratize healthcare via nurse-assisted video consultations by ensuring quick access, prevention and efficiency for healthcare,” Jawed explained.

Dr. Sara Saeed Khurram and Dr. Iffat Zafar, the co-founders of Sehat Kahani, both encountered the socio-cultural barriers to healthcare, but instead of giving up, they used their medical background to “democratize healthcare by building an all-female health provider network to deliver quality healthcare,” Jawed said. “They are the people who have taught me the power of team work and the importance of patience and dedication…In all honesty, whatever I have learned, they have had a major role to play in it. And the best thing is, they Continue reading

2018: Time To Listen To The Voices of Women

2017 was a year when the voice of women resonated around the world. Global women’s marches, hashtags such as #MeToo and #TimesUp, record numbers of women entering politics – all together a global call for action that signaled women were tired of not being heard.

It’s been a year that’s left many in the western world asking how we got here and how we can make sure we never go back. A big reason for this is because of what the Internet helps us do. We can reach further, speak louder, and come together like never before.

We know that women use the Internet to build opportunities for business, their communities, and for their families. But for the first time we are seeing how women are using it to collaborate, coordinate, and unite to make change happen.

But now is the time to ask questions.

Just under 50% of the world’s population isn’t online. Break that down further, women are 50% less likely to be connected than men.

The Internet’s future is one where new divides are emerging. It’s not just the binary fact of being on or offline – it’s who, how, and where. And, as the world’s political Continue reading

I’m Planning to Change the World

Earlier this week, the Internet Society published the booklet Enabling Digital Opportunities in the Middle East. Using research created by the Internet Society, ESCWA, and Wamda, it shows what positive and practical steps can be taken to increase digital opportunity and spread its benefits to all of society. Layal Jebran is one person who’s helping to make a difference.

Layal Jebran is the type of person who can give an interview on the phone while giving directions to her friends while walking through the streets of New York City looking for Thai food. She’s the type of person who can start multiple companies while traveling the world giving motivational speeches and accepting awards. To call the 29-year-old woman, a multitasker would be an understatement. In the startup world, she’s more like a superhero.

“I started as an activist when I was 12 years old,” Jebran said. “And my first startup happened my second year in college.”

That successful startup used the Internet to connect freelance advisers to clients who needed them in the Middle East, but like many entrepreneurs, Jebran didn’t stop there. Lyl Big Designs led to other projects, and she continued developing several different ideas Continue reading

Support New Ways of Working To Connect The World

The World Telecommunications Conference (WTDC) begins today. This is a key moment to remind the world that together we can shape a digital future that puts humanity at the heart of the Internet.  But to do this we need your help.

Help send the message that to close the digital divide we’ll need new ways of working, new ways of thinking, and new policies support it all.

Much of what we are speaking on at WTDC serve as real-world examples of the kinds of things we need policy and decision makers to support – community networking being a key focus.

We will keep you up-to-date on what is happening and what we need to do next the conference.

Here’s how you can help:

Take part in a Pre-Event Roundtable

On Sunday, October 8, 17:20 UTC (4:20 PM Argentina Local Time) Internet Society’s Vice President, Global Engagement Raúl Echeberría will speak on the importance of community networks at a Pre-Event-Private Sector Roundtable on Partnering for the SDGs. Watch it here.

 Share Raul’s Blog

Raul’s wrote a critical blog to launch our WTDC message.  Please share it across your channels.

“Every Connection Matters – Shape Tomorrow and Help Close Digital Continue reading