AI ethics

Zaituni Njovu declared “Hero” for promoting digital security awareness among Swahili-speaking women

Today, Access Now announces its selection of Tanzanian digital security trainer Zaituni Njovu as a recipient of this year’s Human Rights Heroes Award. Njovu’s Zaina Foundation translates digital security tools into Swahili language and empowers women and girls in technology.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet will present the award to Njovu, as well as this year’s four other winners, at RightsCon Tunis (June 11-14, 2019).

Njovu provides digital security training for human rights defenders in a country where journalism and freedom of expression online have been increasingly restricted, criticizing the government poses significant risk, and members of the LGBTQ community are being subjected to heightened surveillance.

She is particularly focused on designing trainings that empower Tanzanian women to utilize technology, as many have never been to school and have not been included in digital expansion within the country. Her foundation does this work, in part, by providing guides for digital security tools in Swahili language, greatly expanding the reach of important resources for at-risk individuals. Njovu was also a fellow with Safe Sisters, an Internews and DefendDefenders program working to increase women’s ability to safeguard their privacy, protect their data, and share their knowledge with women in their communities.

Njovu also recently participated in a Rising Voices social media campaign celebrating linguistic diversity online, acting as a guest host of the @DigiAfricanLang Twitter account. During her week as the account manager, she highlighted work to localize Signal and Tor for Swahili-speaking audiences.

About the Award

We live in an era where rapid developments in digital surveillance threaten to erode universal human rights, such as our right to privacy, freedom of expression, and association. In 2013, several NGOs, criminal attorneys, human rights and privacy advocates worked together to introduce 13 Necessary and Proportionate Principles. Signed by 600 organizations and 300,000 individuals, the Principles provide a framework to evaluate whether current or proposed surveillance laws are compatible with human rights.

In celebration of these principles and the work of people around the globe to protect human rights in the digital age, every year Access Now names “heroes” and “villains” who have either protected the principles of freedom online or worked to undermine them.

Previous heroes recognized by Access Now include UN High Commissioner Navi Pillay, President of Brazil Dilma Rousseff, Professor Kyung-Sin Park, and Supreme Court of Justice of India Rohinton Nariman. Read more about this year’s Heroes here.