Conflict-affected women acquire computer skills and learn how to deal with cyberthreats

Date: Tuesday, September 22, 2020

One of the participants Nino Mindiashvili attends the training on IT skills and cyber-security. Photo: UN Women
One of the participants Nino Mindiashvili attends the training on IT skills and cybersecurity. Photo: UN Women

Having learned about cyber security threats through her own negative experience, 33-year-old Nino Mindiashvili has painful memories of the cyberattack that breached her email and social media accounts. She thinks that now, as Internet use has increased due to the pandemic with many activities being performed remotely, the skills that help maintain cybersecurity have gained a more significant meaning.

COVID-19 has indeed highlighted the need to increase awareness within the area of cybersecurity in general and especially for women like Nino who live adjacent to the Administrative Boundary Line (ABL) and also lack access to the Internet and digital devices. She and her 7-year-old child live in the village of Nikozi, 500 meters from the ABL, where she runs a small business in a region that has been negatively affected by the conflict. In parallel to running her own business, Nino collaborates with the IDP Women’s Association “Consent” (IDPWA “Consent”). It was through the IDPWA that she learned about the cybersecurity trainings planned for this August and September aiming at the internally displaced, as well as conflict-affected women living adjacent to the ABLs, which she eagerly joined in.

IDPWA “Consent”, with the support of UN Women, conducted a series of trainings in IT skills, cybersecurity, privacy, fake news, cyberviolence and harassment. Over the two-month period, a total of 68 women, including Nino, attended the trainings organized in Shida Kartli, Imereti, Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti, and Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti regions.

“The topics such as cyberbullying, spamming and phishing were very interesting and much needed,” notes Nino. “At the trainings, we learned how to act in case we receive an ‘attractive offer’ in our inbox that is actually a common phishing scam. We also learned how to protect our social media accounts, how to choose a secure password and other related topics.” Nino further remarks that the other training participants included women who are community leaders, as well as teachers: “These people can indeed disseminate the acquired information, at least among their own students. This is very important and valuable knowledge.”

The participants gained practical skills that will help them use technology, receive information and online services and make use of other opportunities. Moreover, the women will be able to actively participate in discussions and events happening online. It should be also highlighted that in order to increase their access to the Internet, the training participants will also be provided with pre-paid Internet packages and necessary computer and mobile devices.

The initiative is supported by UN Women within the scope of the project “Maintaining support for the Women, Peace and Security agenda in Georgia, ensuring adaptation and responsiveness to COVID-19 to inform longer-term responses” with the financial support of the UK Conflict, Stability and Security Fund.