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Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity

Gabriella is a human rights activist, lawyer, and researcher. She is currently the Executive Director of OpenUp, a civic technology hub in Cape Town focused on empowering people and government through data, technology, and innovation. 

Previously, she was a Senior Research Fellow at Research ICT Africa, where her research focused on data governance, the regulation of digital economies in the SADC region, and digital IDs and privacy in Africa. She clerked with Justice Yacoob of the Constitutional Court, and has also worked with the University of Witwatersrand, as well as with domestic and international non-governmental partners. She has contributed to the drafting of several regional instruments, such as the African Model Law on Access to Information and the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms.

She is an Internet Governance Fellow and an alumni of the International Visitor Leadership Program (Global Digital Leader). Gabriella is also the chairperson of the African Platform on Access to Information Working Group.

Furthermore, she has published a variety of articles and publications, largely aimed at providing evidence-based advocacy responses for human rights activists in the information and internet sphere.

She holds a BA Law and Sociology and LLB from the University of Cape Town.

I want to focus on inequality in my studies for the very reason that the world isn’t getting fairer – particularly in Africa. The Internet, once idealistically viewed as foretelling a new era of fairness, also has the potential to exacerbate the pre-existing inequalities of the “real world”. When people have talked about equality and Internet in the past, the conversation has often centred on “equal access” to Internet. Yet stopping the conversation there is premature; we know that the inequalities that exist in the physical world perpetuate themselves online, too. Inequalities often profoundly influence who speaks, when, and how often. In other words, it’s not just about having the access to the conversation – it is also about how, or if, we can participate in that conversation. I am determined to bring a greater understanding to substantive equality in the realm of the Internet for improving the lives of South Africans.

Gabriella Razzano


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