Ambassador, NetMission.Asia; freelance writer; advocate for minority rights
Hong Kong-born Filipino Jianne Soriano divides her time between acting as an ambassador for NetMission.Asia, a voluntary group of tertiary students that promotes social inclusion and community building through workshops, social work and capacity building; organizing the Youth Internet Governance Forum in Asia-Pacific; freelance-writing for various publications; fighting for minority rights in Hong Kong; and also studying a journalism degree at Baptist University.
Soriano first became involved with NetMission.Asia at 17 years old, and has also been organizing the Youth Internet Governance Forum since 2014. Having worked in unpaid roles as a contributor to online media outlets prior to her journalism degree, it is during this time, she says, where she learned more about “the importance of advocating for better awareness when it comes to internet governance.”
“As a youth speaker and ethnic minority in Hong Kong, what I hope for is essentially our participation, voice and involvement to be valued.”
So what defines internet governance? “Many believe that internet governance is only applicable to the government, but in fact the internet is governed by many stakeholders,” she explains. “And that’s what defines internet governance: the collaboration of different stakeholders for the betterment of the internet.” This includes the government, civil society, academia, technical and private sectors.
She first got involved with the cause in 2013, and went on to represent Hong Kong in the UN Internet Governance Forum in 2013 and then again in 2016, where she was one of 60 selected out of 900 applicants.
Soriano is also an advocate for minority rights — a move that was inspired by her own experiences growing up in the city. “As a youth speaker and ethnic minority in Hong Kong, what I hope for is essentially our participation, voice and involvement to be valued,” she says.” She serves as director on a new multimedia project set to launch in March, featuring stories told by ethnic minorities.
“Youth participation has been an ongoing movement that we continue to push,” she adds. “In general, I wish for more opportunities given to us. As a NetMission ambassador, I hope to build future internet leaders. As a minority, I hope more platforms are available to us and I hope we can find our place in Hong Kong.”
Her first job? “Given my poor proficiency in Cantonese, my first job was in a bookstore.”
Her motivation? “What inspires me is seeing talented young individuals like myself trying their best in their craft, but not getting the opportunity or chance because of their age, gender or ethnicity. And this inspires me to rally for us to be recognized in society.”