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ICANN Fellowship Program: Taking Stock of the Past and Looking Towards the Future

Anyone familiar with the ICANN Fellowship Program will tell you about the wide range of benefits that it has brought to the ICANN community. It was formed a decade ago with the goal of bringing people to ICANN from underserved and underrepresented communities around the world. The program's footprint is highly visible. ICANN fellows fill a number of leadership positions across the ICANN community, are members of the ICANN Board of Directors and ICANN Organization, and many community participants have come to ICANN through the program.

Since 2007, over 640 people have been awarded a fellowship, representing a wide diversity of gender, background, region, experience, and expertise.

Who are the fellows and where do they come from?

Fellowships have been awarded to participants from 133 countries. The region with the greatest number of fellows is Latin America and the Caribbean, followed by Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Applicants from North America and some additional European countries became eligible only recently, starting with ICANN55.

Overall, from the data available, 33% of fellows are female and 67% are male (only male/female self-declarations have been available to fellows to date).

Almost three-quarters of all fellows come from three sectors: civil society, governments and Intergovernmental Organizations (IGOs), and academia. This pattern is consistent across all regions.

If you'd like more details, take a look at the recent ICANN Fellowship Program 10-year Survey [PDF, 981 KB]. This survey provides valuable insight into the roles that fellows play in the ICANN Community. It shows that while the program has achieved a great deal already, there is some progress to be made towards increasing the participation of fellows in most areas of ICANN's work. For example:

  • 69% (218) of respondents said that they are engaged with their respective ICANN's regional team; 30% (96) are involved in developing a regional strategy.
  • 62% (198) are currently involved in a community, as illustrated in the graph (right). (Survey participants could select multiple options.)
  • 39% (125) are active contributors, leaders, or ambassadors. The survey defines 'active contributors' as engaged and active in the community; 'leader' as currently holding, or having held, a leadership position within the community; and 'ambassador' as a current or former leader, a mentor to newcomers, or regularly engaged and actively learning and teaching others.
  • Further, 31% (67) are members or observers who have joined a community or group.

Looking Towards the Future

While we celebrate the successes of the past, it is also time to plan for the future. Over the past few months, we have been looking at how the ICANN community can further increase the success of the program in the future, particularly in light of ICANN's new mission and goals.

As ICANN continues to evolve, the Fellowship Program must keep a steady pace. This will require a careful review of what works and what needs to improve.

We look forward to engaging with the community over the coming weeks and months in a broad consultation that defines the program's vision for the future and empowers it to prioritize based on identified needs.

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    Internationalized Domain Name ,IDN,"IDNs are domain names that include characters used in the local representation of languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet ""a-z"". An IDN can contain Latin letters with diacritical marks, as required by many European languages, or may consist of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese. Many languages also use other types of digits than the European ""0-9"". The basic Latin alphabet together with the European-Arabic digits are, for the purpose of domain names, termed ""ASCII characters"" (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These are also included in the broader range of ""Unicode characters"" that provides the basis for IDNs. The ""hostname rule"" requires that all domain names of the type under consideration here are stored in the DNS using only the ASCII characters listed above, with the one further addition of the hyphen ""-"". The Unicode form of an IDN therefore requires special encoding before it is entered into the DNS. The following terminology is used when distinguishing between these forms: A domain name consists of a series of ""labels"" (separated by ""dots""). The ASCII form of an IDN label is termed an ""A-label"". All operations defined in the DNS protocol use A-labels exclusively. The Unicode form, which a user expects to be displayed, is termed a ""U-label"". The difference may be illustrated with the Hindi word for ""test"" — परीका — appearing here as a U-label would (in the Devanagari script). A special form of ""ASCII compatible encoding"" (abbreviated ACE) is applied to this to produce the corresponding A-label: xn--11b5bs1di. A domain name that only includes ASCII letters, digits, and hyphens is termed an ""LDH label"". Although the definitions of A-labels and LDH-labels overlap, a name consisting exclusively of LDH labels, such as""icann.org"" is not an IDN."