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Report on freedom of expression and the gender dimensions of disinformation

Issued by

Special Procedures


07 August 2023


Issued by Special Procedures


Freedom of opinion and expression, Women

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In this report, the Special Rapporteur analyses the concept of gendered disinformation, which she finds is both a strategy to silence the free expression of women and gender nonconforming persons and a threat to their safety and health, as well as a possible form of online gender-based violence. Stressing that there can be no trade-off between women’s right to be safe and their right to speak, the Special Rapporteur promotes a “gendered response” to online threats, including by addressing the underlying factors that drive gendered disinformation and gender-based violence


In 2021, the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression and opinion presented a report to the UN General Assembly on the issue of gender justice and freedom of opinion and expression (A/76/258).

The report states that despite the impressive and inspirational gains made by women, gender equality in freedom of expression remains a distant goal. “When women raise their voices, too often they are suppressed. In the digital age, the Internet has become the new battleground in the struggle for women’s rights, amplifying opportunities for women to express themselves, but also multiplying possibilities for repression.”1

In the report, the Special Rapporteur considers online of online sexual and gender-based violence, hate speech and disinformation to be the “most pervasive and pernicious form of gendered censorship.” She raises specific concerns in relation to what she terms as ‘gendered disinformation’, noting that “[d]isinformation is a complex phenomenon, even more so when it is gendered, and would benefit from more research and analysis.”

Over the past year, the Special Rapporteur has participated in a series of regional consultations with civil society to better understand the nature and impact of gendered disinformation so that more effective responses can be developed to address the phenomenon while upholding freedom of expression.

The Special Rapporteur now proposes to present a report on the gender dimensions of disinformation to the UNGA at its 78th session. She is calling for submissions from States, international organizations, digital and telecommunications companies, civil society, researchers and other stakeholders on the following issues:

  1. Conceptual issues
    • What do you consider to be ‘gendered disinformation’?
    • How is ‘gendered disinformation’ similar to or different from online gender-based violence?
  2. Responses of States, companies and organizations
    • What measures have States, digital companies or international organizations taken to combat ‘gendered disinformation’?
    • To what extent do these responses comply with international human rights law standards, in particular freedom of expression?
    • How effective have these measures been in addressing ‘gendered disinformation’?
    • Please provide references / links to legal or policy frameworks developed to address the gender dimensions of disinformation.
    • Please provide references / links to relevant case law concerning this topic.
  3. Finding solutions
    • What recommendations do you think the Special Rapporteur should make and to whom on combating gendered disinformation?
    • What issues or areas of gendered disinformation require further research in your opinion?
    • Please provide references or links to relevant research or reports.

1 A/Paragraph 4.