Skip to main content

Supporting safer digital spaces: full report of online experiences for women and LGBTQ+ people

July 4, 2023
As part of the Centre’s commitment to understanding the experiences of vulnerable populations online, IDRC is proud to highlight the release of the first statistically meaningful survey in the Global South on technology-facilitated gender-based violence.
A group people watch a panel of presenters

The report, Supporting Safer Digital Spaces, released by the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) in June 2023, reveals that nearly 60 percent of all respondents experienced some form of online harm. As the first statistically meaningful survey of women’s and LGBTQ+ individuals’ online experiences focused on the Global South, the IDRC-conceptualized and funded survey covers 18,000 respondents from 18 countries. Other key findings include: 

  • Nearly 25 percent of respondents who reported online harm felt they were targeted because of their gender identity. 
  • Almost 30 percent of women reported negative impacts to their mental health, and 23 percent said they could no longer engage freely online after experiencing one of the harms.  
  • 40 percent of participants did not reach out to anyone after experiencing one of the technology-facilitated harms. 

“Due to increased sexism, homophobia, transphobia and violent threats online, many women and LGBTQ+ people are having to choose between facing the abuse that comes with being a woman or LGBTQ+ person online or being silent. This abusive behaviour leads to real harms in both the digital and physical world, and there are few supports available to people targeted by TFV [(technology-facilitated violence)],” said lead author, Senior Fellow and professor Suzie Dunn.  

The report details 87 recommendations to address technology-facilitated violence through educational campaigns, legal and policy resources, tools for support and non-governmental resources. It aims to address the dearth of statistically significant research in the Global South about the experiences of women and queer communities, and the levels of harassment and violence they face.  

With this survey data — in combination with research from feminist scholars at the Feminist Internet Research Network — the hope is that governments, funders, platforms and social media companies can act together to improve the design of responses to technology-facilitated gender-based violence. 

To read the report and access individual country results from the survey, please visit: