Digital Identity Fellowship
The Yoti Fellowship Programme is one of the key pillars of our Social Purpose Strategy and offers a year-long, funded scholarship for people passionate about carrying out grassroots research on identity.
With a preference for applicants from the Global South, outputs from the Fellow’s activities can be anything from a technical platform, a report, a website, a book, a policy paper, a film or any other medium relevant to their proposal.
Our 2019 Fellows
We are proud to present to you our three fellows. Starting on October 1st, their fellowships will explore issues of exclusion and human rights in Argentina, South Africa and India.
Digital Identity Fellow
Tshepo is an experienced researcher, strategist and innovator with a track record working in Africa’s small business and social enterprise sectors. He is particularly interested in the digitisation of the continent, and is a subject-matter expert in disruptive innovation. He is an advocate for youth entrepreneurship and has worked widely in the NGO sector. Tshepo is also a published academic and has been a speaker, facilitator and panelist at numerous events including the African Union, Africa Research Group, The Innovation Hub, ISPA iWeek 2019 and the World Youth Forum in Egypt.
Digital Identity Fellow
Paz is a Chilean development practitioner, researcher and activist focused on open science and technology, knowledge justice and locally-led development. Currently based in Argentina, she has worked for more than ten years in different countries and with a wide range of people – from low-income immigrants to powerful government officials. She has also worked with artists, designers, technologists and researchers on large-scale technical (and experimental) projects. Paz holds a Bachelors Degree in Philosophy and is a Master of Science in Development.
Digital Identity Fellow
Subhashish is a digital storyteller, researcher, documentary filmmaker and activist working towards digital freedom for marginalised communities. He has helped grow the reach of the open internet across the Asia-Pacific region with leading community roles for nonprofits such as Wikimedia Foundation, Mozilla, Internet Society and the Centre for Internet Society. He is a National Geographic Explorer and cofounder of O Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to helping communities with open digital resources to document indigenous and endangered languages.
Over the course of his fellowship, Tshepo will be studying the digital identity landscape in South Africa, in particular its effectiveness in fighting fraud. He will examine the national digital identity programme from a human rights perspective, and propose safeguards and policy recommendations for all those involved – including public officials, lawmakers, representatives from judicial and human rights institutions, technologists, officers of development institutions, and members of the private sector. Launched in 2013, Tshepo will be particularly focused on South Africa’s national smart ID card identity programme.
“For as long as I can remember it has been my ambition to become one of the leading digital researchers in Africa” says Tshepo. “I have spent the last few years focusing on the challenges and issues around digital identities, corporate innovation and disruptive innovation, as well as advocating technologies that work for marginalised communities. My Yoti Digital Identity Fellowship will give me a great opportunity to explore the issues and challenges of digital identity frameworks in the context of a developing country, which is very exciting to me.”
Over the course of her fellowship, Paz will focus on unravelling what digital identity, and identity in general, means to unemployed and under-employed individuals receiving support from public job centres and local labour NGOs in two major cities in Argentina – Gran Buenos Aires and Mar del Plata, the city with the highest unemployment rate in the country. Vulnerable groups are those most likely to seek help from job centres and NGOs, yet they are the ones usually most hit by the rapid digitalisation of the public space and the economy.
Paz will explore these groups’ lived experiences, starting with the recognition that they are consciously manoeuvering, enhancing, modifying or hiding parts of their identities during their job searches. As agents, they interact with a wide range of organisations and increasingly in ways that are mediated by digital tools and platforms. This mediated making and changing of their identities matters and deserves attention.
In India, creating a digital identity system for a developing and an extremely ethno-socially diverse economy of 1.3 billion people is not an easy task. Only by following an open and inclusive process can it bring fairness to everyone. This process should be bottom-up and be based on open community consensus, giving utmost priority to individual privacy. India’s Aadhaar, a biometric-based digital identity system, has been at the centre of many privacy- and digital rights-related discussions for its ambitious goals, with particular concerns of state surveillance.
During the course of his fellowship, Subhashish will carry out focused multimedia research designed to amplify the challenges and opportunities within marginalised groups that are being (or will soon be) affected most by Aadhaar.
Stay updated with the Fellowship
People ask me: What do you mean by ‘digital identity’?
This is the third field diary entry from Paz, one of our Digital Identity Fellows. Her year-long research project is...
MarginalizedAadhaar: Digital identity in the time of COVID-19
This is the third field diary entry from Subhashish, one of our Digital Identity Fellows. His year-long research project is...
Updates from the field – Tshepo’s diary entry April 2020
This is the third field diary entry from Tshepo, one of our Yoti Digital Identity Fellows. His year-long research project...