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First Ladies of Mexico and Dominican Republic Launch Online Safety Initiative

First Ladies of Mexico and Dominican Republic Launch Online Safety Initiative

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The Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) , an international nonprofit organization dedicated to online safety, today launched the First Ladies Initiative for Online Safety. The goal of the Initiative is to engage first ladies from around the globe in a cross-cultural dialogue and programs that encourage safe and responsible online use and fosters greater digital citizenship. The announcement was made at the FOSI 2011 European Conference, held today in London.

Margarita Cedeño de Fernández, the first lady of the Dominican Republic, and Margarita Zavala, the first lady of Mexico, have committed their support to the Initiative. The First Ladies Initiative will bring together the wives of leaders from around the world in order to promote education efforts within their countries and engage in transnational dialogues that raise global awareness and spur international cooperation. The Initiative is a means of linking the first ladies in a common cause that not only directly impacts their own countries, but like the Internet, also transcends national borders.

“While the Internet presents unlimited opportunities for our youth to connect with one another and learn about the world around them, there are also risks that must be addressed,” said Ms. Zavala. “I look forward to working alongside FOSI and other first ladies to make the Internet a safer place for children.”

In addition to serving as the first lady of Mexico, Ms. Zavala serves as the president of an advisory board for DIF (el Desarrollo Integral de la Familia or the Integral Development of the Family), a government agency that helps to develop and strengthen families in Mexico. Ms. Zavala hosted a joint FOSI-Telmex conference in Mexico City in June 2007.

“As individuals of all ages, particularly children and young people, increasingly use the Internet for a varied range of purposes and avail themselves of the benefits of social networks to stay connected with friends and family, it is important to also consider the ramifications of sharing information on such a vast arena and apply, in the digital world, the same values we promote offline,” said Dr. Cedeño de Fernández, first lady of the Dominican Republic. “I commend FOSI’s efforts to promote a safe and responsible use of the Internet and I am delighted to join this important initiative.”

Dr. Cedeño de Fernández’s office coordinates the social programs developed by President Fernández and also operates its own projects, including work to close the digital gap and establishing 64 Community Technology Centers, mostly in rural areas. Dr. Cedeño de Fernández has numerous awards for her work in training women in network technology and for developing cultural and educational training of children and teenagers.

“We’re thrilled to announce that Dr. Cedeño de Fernández and Ms. Zavala are joining the First Ladies Initiative,” said Stephen Balkam, CEO of FOSI. “They have done so much to raise awareness about important issues affecting families around the world and this Initiative will provide them with a platform to share best practices in promoting safer and more responsible Internet use with first ladies from other countries. We are very fortunate to have their commitment to this effort.”

Details will follow in the coming months regarding a number of events and programs from the First Ladies Initiative.