HomeCall for ApplicationSMEX Digital Rights Fund for WANA 2024

SMEX Digital Rights Fund for WANA 2024

SMEX Digital Rights Fund for WANA 2024 – Over the years, SMEX has documented and reported online human rights violations in West Asia and North Africa, advocating for a free and open internet. As we anticipate further challenges in the region in 2024 and beyond, we recognize the need to adapt and intensify our efforts to support digital rights.

In response to these evolving challenges, we are launching the Digital Rights Fund for WANA (DRF). This initiative aims to empower individuals, informal groups, and entities to effectively counter digital rights threats and violations online. Through grants and support (a maximum of $10,000), we seek to foster a more inclusive and equitable digital society, united in protecting digital freedoms even amidst adversity.

Grant Focus Areas

Applicants working on topics related to the below focus areas are encouraged to apply to the Digital Rights Fund for WANA.

Surveillance, Spyware and CybercrimeSurveillance has a chilling effect on the work of social justice organizations. It can expose sensitive information to silence activists and discourage them from carrying out their work. Combined with offline tactics such as judicial harassment, imprisonment, and severe restrictions of fundamental rights and freedoms essential to the work of civil society, such practices have contributed to the shrinking of civic spaces.

Investigations and leaked documents have long exposed the use of intrusive surveillance technologies and spyware to target thousands of regional and global rights workers, activists and journalists. Cybercrime is also on the rise with frequent incidents of hacking, phishing, identity theft, and ransomware attacks. One of the major challenges to addressing cybercrime in the WANA region is the lack of cybersecurity infrastructure and resources. Many organizations in the region do not have adequate cybersecurity measures in place, leaving them vulnerable to attacks.

Internet censorship and content moderation: While most countries in the region have constitutional provisions guaranteeing the right to freedom of expression, in practice, such guarantees are restricted by vague and broad legislation that violate international human rights standards and criminalize peaceful and legitimate speech.

This creates an environment where social justice organizations risk legal harassment and having their staff members detained, prosecuted, and jailed for publishing and campaigning online. Additionally, freedom of expression is an enabler of other fundamental rights such as freedom of assembly, protest and association, and in a region where such rights are severely restricted offline, criminalization of speech online further hinders the ability of organizations to properly and safely do their work. Finally, the filtering of content from tech companies and blocking of websites prevents organizations not only from effectively communicating with their audiences and disseminating information, but also from accessing content that can be essential to their work.

Digital Rights Fund Outcomes

The challenges faced by human rights defenders and activists in the WANA region are significant, but so is our determination to support them. By addressing issues such as surveillance, cybercrime, and internet censorship, we strive to create a more just and inclusive digital society in our region.

Supporting Human Rights Defenders: We provide sub-grants to individuals, informal groups, unregistered organizations, and entities working in the WANA region. We are aiming to strengthen human rights defenders and empower them to continue their vital work in the face of digital threats.

Promoting Digital Rights: Our sub-grants are designed to support projects that defend digital rights and protect individuals and communities from online threats. We believe that safeguarding these rights is fundamental to achieving social justice.

Building Cybersecurity Resilience: In the WANA region, there is a shortage of cybersecurity infrastructure and skilled professionals. Our initiative seeks to bridge this gap by providing resources and training, enabling organizations to better protect themselves against cyber threats.

Advancing Freedom of Expression: We actively support those fighting against internet censorship and content moderation that stifles freedom of expression. By promoting open dialogue, we aim to create a more inclusive and equitable digital society.

Eligibility & Criteria

To ensure a fair and transparent selection process for the Digital Rights Fund for WANA, we have established clear eligibility criteria and assessment factors. Here’s an overview:

  • Eligibility Criteria:

Applicants must meet the following eligibility requirements to be considered for the grant:

  • Geographic Focus: Applicants must be based in the Southwest Asia and North Africa (WANA) region, including countries in West Asia and North Africa.
  • Project Alignment: Proposed projects should align with one or more of the specified focus areas, including surveillance, spyware, cybercrime, internet censorship, and content moderation within the SWANA region.
  • Entities: Eligible entities include individuals, informal groups, unregistered organizations, and established entities committed to digital rights in the WANA region.
  • Commitment to Digital Rights: Applicants must demonstrate a genuine commitment to advancing digital rights, protecting freedom of expression, and addressing online threats in the WANA region.
  • Assessment Criteria:

Proposals will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Feasibility: The practicality of proposed project implementation strategies and alignment with available resources.
  • Efficiency: The effectiveness and efficiency of proposed activities in achieving project goals.
  • Relevance: The direct relevance of proposed projects to addressing digital rights issues in the WANA region.
  • Effectiveness: The potential of projects to drive meaningful change and foster a more inclusive digital landscape.
  • Sustainability: The long-term sustainability and impact of the proposed initiatives.
  • Alignment with SMEX’s Vision: The alignment of proposed projects with SMEX’s overarching program objectives, emphasizing the protection of digital rights and equitable societal development.

Our commitment to these eligibility and assessment criteria is central to our mission of creating a more just and inclusive digital society. We believe that adhering to these guidelines will enable us to support projects that make a meaningful difference in advancing digital rights and social justice in the WANA region.

Evaluation and Selection Process

We are dedicated to a thorough and transparent evaluation and selection process for the Digital Rights Fund for WANA. Our objective is to identify and support projects that are in alignment with our mission of safeguarding digital rights and promoting equitable societal development in the WANA region. To achieve this, we have established a comprehensive evaluation and selection process as outlined below:

  • Diverse Evaluation Committee:

Our evaluation committee is composed of a diverse group of experts, each offering unique perspectives and extensive experience in the field. While some committee members remain constant, we also encourage the rotation of members to ensure fresh insights and maintain a dynamic evaluation process.

  • Selection Process:

Upon receiving recommendations from the evaluation committee, SMEX embarks on a meticulous selection process designed to identify promising proposals that effectively address digital rights issues in the WANA region. Throughout this selection process, we prioritize diversity and inclusivity, striving to ensure equitable representation from various communities and regions within the WANA region.

  • Transparency and Fairness:

Our unwavering commitment to transparency and fairness is at the core of our efforts to foster a more just and inclusive digital society. We firmly believe that this rigorous evaluation and selection process will enable us to support projects that have a meaningful impact on the advancement of digital rights and social justice in the region.

  • Application Process and Award Information:

Our DRF application process is user-friendly and accessible. You can easily apply through our online form, and we accept applications throughout the year to fit your project’s timeline.

For direct financial support, grants can reach up to $10,000 and typically cover projects lasting six months to a year.

 Please note that the DRF does not provide support for projects that are long-term in nature.

Accessibility and Assistance for Applicants with Disabilities

We believe in making our grant application process accessible to everyone, including individuals with disabilities. If you have a disability and need assistance completing this application, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’re here to support you. We understand that some disabilities may make it challenging to fill out forms in writing, so we’re offering an alternative: we can set up an interview with you. During this interview, we’ll ask you the questions from the application and record your responses. Whether you prefer a phone call, a video chat, or another accessible method, we’ll work with you to make it as comfortable as possible

How to Apply for Digital Rights Fund for WANA :

For direct financial support, grants can reach up to $10,000 and typically cover projects lasting six months to a year.

To apply for the Digital Rights Fund for WANA please fill this form.

For more Information : Visit the website for SMEX Digital Rights Fund for WANA 2024


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