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Inspire to Aspire: Digital Literacy

Submissions are pouring in from around the world to our WWW: Women Weave the Web Campaign! As we ramp up the Digital Literacy phase of the campaign, there will be many opportunities to participate and add your voice. This week, join our Inspire to Asprire challenge on Facebook!

Does this photo ignite your voice for digital inclusion?

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We invite you to add YOUR powerful message to this image. Your words can inspire women in every community and country to aspire to full digital inclusion!

In order to participate in the challenge visit World Pulse's Facebook page and leave your message by April 18th.

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Check back on our Facebook page on April 24th to see if your message has been selected as the winner. The winning message will be featured on this photo and posted to World Pulse's Facebook page, to be shared with thousands of followers! It will also be included in our upcoming emagazine on Digital Access.

Need more inspiration? Here are examples of past Inspire to Aspire challenge winners from our campaign on girls' access to education.

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Comments

My mother was always disappointed that I had no interest in crocheting. She loved making hats and quilts and shawls and sweaters and baby clothes, into her 90s. It represents to me the areas in which we could never see eye to eye. She blamed me for being a victim when I was 3, when she said she recognized that I loved someone else more than her. It wasn't true. It was just one more tool of denial to blame a victim. There is no way I will ever know why. So I moved on from what was once a conflict.

After cervical cancer and surgery, I stopped thinking about babies, so my mother never made baby clothes for me to use. Yet, in spite of barriers in perspectives between us, we not only had a lifelong interest in politics, we agreed in our political perspectives, were both politically active, kept abreast of issues, conducted our own research, and grew in political and social knowledge and action. Except for my childhood and young adulthood, we lived thousands of miles apart. Yet I cannot remember any conversation in which we did not include discussion of our activities against injustices. We shared our experiences in standing up and speaking out against inequality of every kind. We both loved, though seldom shared, music.

So how did we connect and why? Long ago, we often talked by phone. Independently of each other, we moved from the typewriter to the computer keyboard. I don't recall where she learned to type, but I do remember that she suggested that I learn personal typing in high school so I would know the keyboard. It turned out to be a good suggestion as we moved to the computer keyboard and following that to the Internet and all the knowledge we acquired there. She never stopped questioning the reasons for war and poverty, injustices and issues of leaders and leadership and so many topics. Somehow I have always been aware of her kind of thinking and actions, even while other factors and forces kept us from being closer. Yet, I have recognized repeatedly, that we are among the many whom Martin Luther King, Jr. referred to as "drum majors" for justice.

Despite our strong differences, we never disagreed that our most important tasks are to work for "liberty and justice for all." And we cannot work on justice for some and not for others. We cannot fight to save the lives and well-being only of those we love and not of those whom we may respect for their honorable goals and objectives, yet at the same time dislike them in some way. Whether we like, love or hate them, their is no reasonable reason to ignore homelessness or poverty, slavery or torture, disease or war. Yet people do it all the time. They make excuses to exclude others from humanitarian consideration, based on differences in religion, nationality, race, gender, gender orientation, social class, employment status and so many other trivialities. The notion that there are 2 sides to every story, both of equal value, and that being right is based on opinion and tradition, not facts and evidence, is used to bolster this view.

What is troubling about this kind of thinking is that it rests on asserting ignorance and cruelty and even lies as if true. So the fact that islands are being made uninhabitable by rising oceans and that animals are becoming extinct as polar ice caps disappear are discussed as if these are topics for debate, rather than crises that must be addressed, while there is still time, if there is still time. People are persuaded that the rising oceans are "normal" and should not be worried about, much as a Roman Emperor might have asserted while Rome deteriorated and eventually fell into decline, then complete fall.

I hear complaints about the 1% of the super elite, super-privileged who, like all who enslave others, literally or figuratively, do so for personal aggrandizement. They are not solely to blame. We are all to blame when we continue in ignorance in a digital world in which there is the greatest access to information and facts of all time which should be studied for the benefit of humanity. There is no excuse for ignorance, we can all learn exhaustively through self-learning which is also life-learning.

A topic for an example: It is pointless, useless, and evilly calculating to debate immigration reform, hundreds of years after racist systems have been employed to extensively exterminate indigenous people, then claim their lands were empty and to claim majority status and claim control belongs to that false majority. It is also inexcusable to accept false premises and recent, unsubstantiated conclusions, refusing to study the origins of existing, brutal social systems in order to heal all people comprehensively and with amends and reparations made. Anything less is a distraction from justice which substitutes worthless symbolism. It is the celebration of war, while ignoring the casualties and deaths. It is the services and ceremonies to "honor" the injured and fallen whose suicides are denigrated and denied and whose injuries are untreated.

We live in an interconnected world in which the satisfaction of learning is discredited by words like "nerds" to denigrate and discourage the use of intelligence. Societies around the work engage in mindless "fun" in computer games and televisions shows and movies of declining morality. Everywhere, people are encouraged to be thin "for their health." Eating disorders and other health problems are as rampant for those who do not eat because pf the desire to be stylishly thin, as for those starving and homeless because of poverty.

Similarly, aging people are discouraged from obtaining health care through accusations of using more than their fair share of care. Women have resumed wearing girdles, as in centuries above, thereby damaging internal organs and functions. Stilted shoes in which feet cannot bend normally, in which feet must be pointed together in order to stand, thereby distorting and injuring feet, ankles, knees, hips, backs and necks, are encouraged as high fashion women's wear. Research into the consequences of women whose feet were bound, not only in Asia but elsewhere like those in the European traditions of ballet in which ballerinas "stand" on the knuckle of their big toes, are encouraged to starve themselves and often are crippled in later life with bones so fragile that ribs can break.

It does not matter as much if we like each other or love each other, if we are going to live only brief, meaningless lives. We need, each of us, to begin our own quests for truth, knowledge, justice, equality and to start searching for the answers to our own questions-- which we must answer ourselves. In a global, Internet world, women--all of us--must grab for every shred of knowledge we can find. We must learn about and come to know each other. As we teach ourselves, we need to teach others and give away our books after reading them. We need to ask serious and piercing questions, to end shame and to speak aloud all that has harmed us. Recently, it was reported that police in Hawaii have been permitted to have sex with a prostitute, then arrest her for it. Why is rape excused by war or racial or power difference of the victim from the perpetrator. If we do not know these things are occurring, we have no hope of being change agents.

This site in sharing our stories is critically important, but only if we indeed share our stories, the painful as well as those worthy of acclaim. It is also critical to stop creating false hierarchies of oppression. There are women who raise funds on one continent for women on another, but who deny help to women whose circumstances are ignored, buried in assertions that women in more developed countries don't need help. This ignores harsh realities.

Through digital information, my mother, a government employee, learned about women being forcibly sterilized as a condition of receiving welfare and food stamps. She learned about women being sterilized because they were mentally ill or disadvantaged. and other ghastly reasons. And because she learned about it, she shared the knowledge with me, spurring my lifelong advocacy for many justice issues. The increasing expansion of knowledge of the world is too vast to fritter away life with trivia and propaganda. Women need to examine every existing social institution, then eliminate those which oppress us and redesign those in which we can have healthy relationships of every kind, adult to adult, adult to child and child to child. We need to live by facts and not fantasy.

Lifelong learning is not an arduous task but a satisfying journey of self development in a sustainable environment. Like the cell phone facilitated global communication far more than land line phones, so the Internet and all manner of digital technology offer us all the capacity to learn and teach, to document and create, to invent and celebrate. There is a satisfaction, a serenity that comes only with knowledge and understanding. Those who discover this and who are fortunate to live long, recognize that the longer we live authentically for ourselves, yet reciprocally with others, the less we judge others, the less we are sure that they are wrong and we are right.

EYE TO EYE ©Suzanne Brooks, July 2001
To Marie Fielder

Age brings clarity to sight, even to those who go blind in old age,
or maybe especially to them. A young revolutionary can be so sure
because the vision of youth does not encompass so many possibilities.
But youth, like age has variations, is not a certain, solid thing.
Like E=MC2, age and youth are relative.

Children and adults see the world from different views. Understanding
we live perpetually in both roles is not so easy. When I met her,
I had already been around. Yet like a teenager judging a parent, I had felt her
to be conservative, compared to my more open views. Still, I enjoyed the rarity of her
hearty, open humor, pondered the subtlety of her social criticisms.

Here was a kind of woman I had not known before.
We did not always see eye to eye since she was more
than a generation my senior. Still, we were quickly friends,
though never peers. Not that she lacked humility, I simply was not her equal.
At 60, I am still too young, have too much more to learn, not to be in awe of her.

How easily I could say we come from different worlds, but in truth,
I do not know what world she comes from, whether poverty or wealth
and knowing now would only bias my opinion to some stereotype,
which would not fit her. What I do know is that, like me, she is that kind
of woman who loves people and has loved and let go more than one man.

Women who demand fairness, who are unwilling to accept
injustice, who expect reciprocity in love and esteem,
have often found themselves to be the islands
on which other women find respite and some men find insight.
Yet islands are by nature alone.

We do not always see eye to eye politically, but in her I recognize myself in twenty years.
This causes me to chuckle inside, to feel proud of myself, and then to shed tears.
If only we could be wiser when we are young. If only those that we love could grow
with us, like us. But with the blessing of longevity comes its curse. Every anniversary,
every reunion reminds of those who have left. Where have they gone?

Dead or away, it's the same. They go without waves or words. We need more time,
time to say goodbye, more time to say how and why I always loved you and why
I didn't tell you. We will not always see eye to eye, she and I, in part, because things change,
even deep unspoken love. Someone is always moving on and it is not always the obvious one.
Every day begins and ends in mystery. No one knows who will survive the night.

We will not always see eye to eye because, someday, one of us will be blind, or gone,
leaving the other to squint in the effort to remember the beloved visage and to deny
the loss to self. We don't cry often these days. Instead, we are strong and supportive,
understanding and insightful, learned and philosophical--all to silence the inner voice
begging one of us, both of us to hold on.

Muffling sobs with heaving breaths does not wipe them away. I don't want to let go,
I don't want to be let go before we have had time to sit with our feet up, watching the sunset
over a beach, sharing stories of who we really are. I am your student and your echo.
I have not yet danced for you, but I will sing to you, across the miles, across time, across pain.
The words of the song spring alive to my mind. Let us be happy that songs last.

Lee Mwaita's picture

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I am for truth no matter who tells it. I am for Justice no matter who it is for or against.
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