Jimena Cascante Matamoros is Senior Youth Collective Coordinator at Restless Development, a global non-profit agency that supports young leaders to create a better world.

Here, she gives a taster of Restless’ upcoming session at the Festival de Datos on digital rights and feminist technologies, highlights some of the barriers facing women and vulnerable populations when it comes to tech access and use around the world, and shares what she’s most looking forward to about the Festival.

Can you tell us a little about Restless Development and your role within the organization?

Restless Development is a global non-profit agency that supports the journey of young people around the world. We work in different countries where our goal is to support young people leading changes in their communities and multiplying that leadership. My role in the organization is Senior Youth Collective Coordinator; through the Youth Collective we bring together Youth Civil Society Organizations worldwide to learn from each other.

My work in particular is in a project called We Lead, where we support young women from four different rightholder groups (young women with disabilities, young women affected by displacement, young women living with HIV, and young women who identify as LGBTQI+) from nine countries from Central America, MENA region and Africa in advocating for their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).

I’m also a part of a project on Digital Health and Rights which focuses on a transnational participatory action research approach to digital governance research in Ghana, Colombia, Kenya and Vietnam, looking to empower transnational youth activist networks to raise the recommendations in health policy in national and global health governance.

What most inspires you in your work?

The thing I enjoy the most about my work is seeing first-hand the amazing and courageous work that young women are doing around the world, how innovative and creative they are in the ways in which they engage with their communities to advocate for their rights, and how involved they are in the making of a better world for themselves and those to come. It’s a privilege to be able to support young people and to amplify their voices and the work they do in changing everything from mentalities to global policies.

Your Festival de Datos session is about feminist technologies. What does feminist technology mean to you at Restless, and how does this relate to digital rights?

When we talk about feminist technologies, we are acknowledging the fact that technology is not as neutral as we’d think, and that there are inequalities when it comes to – including but not limited to – gender. We want to open the discussion to understand the power dynamics that are at play, making internet access unequal, and find out about initiatives that are working on changing those conditions looking to make the internet a safe space and accessible for all.

Discussing digital rights needs to be done through a feminist lens. While data is also often considered as impartial, the reality is that there are many factors that we need to analyze, from potential loss of privacy to potential biases and discrimination against historically vulnerable populations. 

Some of the issues that we face regarding this topic include things such as the digital divide, the differentiated access to technology for different populations – women vs men, rural vs urban, different economic classes, etc, – to things such as online harassment (for instance against LGBTQI+ populations), misinformation and lack of regulation of the information found online to the barriers that young activists are facing to make their voices heard on social media, for example.

What are some of the key issues you’ll be exploring in your session, and who is it aimed towards?

During our session you’ll hear from different organizations, both from the public sector and from NGOs, who are doing work on the gathering, use and analysis of data with a gender-sensitive approach in different countries in Latin America. We’ll also look at how these practices can support different populations facing vulnerability and discrimination to protect and assert their digital rights and in advancing and transforming societies. 

What resources do you recommend for anyone wanting to learn more about feminist technologies and digital rights? 

Restless Development actually has a lot of resources available online that touch upon digital rights as well as feminist technologies with intergenerational voices from around the globe. I’d invite you all to look through the Feminist Action Labs and also to read the latest State of Youth Civil Society Report 2023 “Young, Feminist and Fearless: Holding the line” with inspiring stories of young feminist movements holding the line around the world and the challenges they face, including the ones around digital spaces.

What are you most looking forward to about the Festival de Datos? Are there any other sessions or aspects you’re excited about?

What I’m most looking forward to about the Festival de Datos is the exchange of ideas with such a diverse array of perspectives. There are so many sessions that I want to attend that tackle issues about inclusion and accessibility from the use of participative data in urban governance to storytelling, art and communication in social media, and the use of data in climate justice.

I am also very excited about the other session Restless Development is leading on, ‘What is the future of young people’s rights in the digital world?