The Empowerment Laboratory

empowerment lab

Robert F. Kennedy believed that every individual in the world can make a difference and that everyone’s personal commitment is the most important changing force in order to create a more just and peaceful world.

The RFK Training Institute believes that social media have the capacity to further empower individuals to work on a global scale to report and expose injustices, organize campaigns as well as to provide exceptional organizational and coordination tools to promote human rights. At the same time digital technology has increasingly become a tool for repression and control and is becoming everyday more critical to empower digital activists with the skills needed to safely use digital tools. In order to safely and effectively use social media tools for human rights activities, individuals and organizations all around the world need increasing strategic capabilities, operational knowledge and advanced skills.

The RFK Empowerment Lab of the RFK Training Institute is a training and residence program aiming at bringing together global human rights activists who extensively use social media in their activities offering them the possibility to connect, share experiences and best practices, as well as to learn new capacities and skills from the most experienced operators and facilitators.

The RFK Empowerment Lab is one of the core programs of the RFK Training Institute which, in its turn, is a core initiative of the RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights. The RFK Empowerment Lab is unique for at least three reasons.

  • First, it is hosted at the RFK International House of Human Rights at the former Florence prison “Le Murate” and is fully equipped with the highest level of technological and logistical support in the city center of Florence.
  • Second, it is a residential program where the activists will be hosted in the same structure where they are trained with their peers.
  • Third and most importantly, the RFK Empowerment Lab is cooperating with leading organizations in the field of human rights and social media, both activists as well as trainers, all around the globe.

In fact, the RFK Training Institute’s ultimate goal is the creation of partnerships and the reinforcement of existing networks of human activists, organizations, facilitators and grantmakers in developing the RFK Empowerment Lab to its full potential and, in doing so, to make a sustainable and measurable contribution to the global human rights movement.

For the program for the First Group of activists joining the Empowerment Lab from 12 till 19 May 2013, (in alphabetical order), the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Global Partners & Associates (GPA), Global Voices Online (GV); Human Rights Watch (HRW); OneWorld Digital Security Exchange (ODSE or Odyssey), Open Society Foundations (OSF); Tactical Technology Collective (Tactical Tech), and Witness have provided technical assistance, digital tool kits, and experts who have training sessions. Furthermore, the financial support by the Ford Foundation has been essential for the organization of the First Group.

Equally important, the First Empowerment Lab is co-organized with the Partner for Human Rights
Program, one of the core programs of the RFK Center, directed by Santiago Canton. PHR in particular has developed a number of sessions and guaranteed the participation of four participants, two PHR laureates and two members of another two laureate organizations. PHR’s contribution has been coordinated by Andrea Galindo.

We believe that the Empowerment Laboratory can become a powerful asset for human rights activists around the world. It is our goal to actively engage with online audience. We will regularly update our blog and twitter accounts with the latest information, contents and resources that the RFK Empowerment Laboratory will be generating in the future. Starting Monday, May 13 we will introduce the new activities of the first group of activists, follow the training sessions and meet the participants to the Laboratory.

Follow us on our twitter account (the dedicated Training Institute activities’ hasthtag is #RFKTI).

Articles written by the participants: