Sharing the stories of women who are using the Internet to and digital technologies to change their local communities, World Pulse is has created a new program, Women Weave the Web, hoping to help break down the digital divide. Their goal is to crowdsource the knowledge of women working at a grassroots level, compiling problems and solution around digital inclusion and empowerment.
They are currently in their first phase of “Digital Access” to find out about challenges women may have have accessing the Internet and the solutions they are developing.
In a few months, they will turn our focus to “Digital Literacy” and “Digital Empowerment”, to gather ideas on what tools are needed and to find out how the Internet is allowing people to make real change at home.
It was, however, quite alarming for me to find out that only two of the trainees had functional email addresses, none of them had ever heard about Skype, only one had ever been to a café, and no more than 2 could access the internet on their phones. I realized suddenly that to make the training more beneficial to the women, it was necessary to address individual needs before going on to support their collective interest in citizen journalism, multimedia storytelling and social networking. On that basis I drew up and ran a series of 4 hours per week digital empowerment sessions,
Data protection seems to be the central topic in most discussions pertaining to the Internet[...] However, little attention is paid to how data protection laws (or lack of them) affect ordinary citizens, particularly women [...] Popular job searching websites have spaces for users to enter their personal information, including contact details, such as email address and phone number. While users expect such information to be protected, company employees or website administrators often misuse the data for harassing women.
Around the world, many people believe that all of the United States of America is flowing with milk, honey, and access to technology. Having lived in cities all my life, I believed this to be true. I found out, after moving to this remote area in the Cherokee National Forest, that communication can still be challenging, even in the twenty-first century United States… People who had gotten used to my constant availability by phone could no longer reach me on demand. This became problematic in many relationships because my contacts felt abandoned. They soon sought others with whom to communicate when they wanted to talk, not when I was available.
Each time www is mentioned to my ears, my mind goes to WP, the pulse of the world, a platform which has given great opportunities to me– a woman living at the grassroot level in Nigeria to interact with other women from around the world. There is something that I share in common with my network of ‘sisters’ from around the world. For instances, my sister who lives in Europe told me that because she is a woman living with a disability, her challenges are double compared with her male colleagues who also live with disabilities. An online friend from Asia informed me that because she is a woman living with a disability, no man has agreed to marry her.
As a woman empowered with technology, I am compelled to act on behalf of the sisters I left behind. Others keep telling this is not begging, but fighting for a cause. I hope that is true.