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NIGERIA: Access to the Internet Is Access to Life

Through her own empowerment story, counselor and social entrepreneur Obisakin Christianah Busayo illustrates the impact of women's Internet access in her country.

"My dream is to provide a safe place for women to access the Internet without fear of attack or being molested."

I earned my master’s degree in 2002. But as far as the Internet and Web 2.0 were concerned, I remained illiterate until 2009, when I took out a loan for a laptop and got my office connected. For years I had a vision to empower the women in my community, but I did not know how to go about it.

The first thing I did on my new computer was to go to Google to search for women’s organizations around the world. I found the Association of Women in Development (AWID), which led me to World Pulse’s Voices of Our Future Program. During this program, I learned about journalism, as well as how to access email, how to attach documents, and how to blog and chat online.

It is unaffordable for an average civil servant in Nigeria to own her own personal modem, which discourages many people—especially women—from accessing the Internet. Last month I was giving a training workshop to a group of teachers. There were 50 participants: 37 women and 13 men. When I asked how many of them had some knowledge of computers or the Internet, no matter how small, no one in the class came forward. Do not be surprised that these computer novices were all university graduates.

In Nigeria there are many obstacles to Internet access. Electricity is inconsistent. Whenever the lights go off, Internet in the office automatically goes off. To write my first stories as a citizen journalist, I had to go to a public cybercafé with a standby generator.

Public cybercafés have their own serious problems. There are very few of them, and they are always congested and taken over by the “yahoo boys” (boys who engage in Internet scams and sometimes target women for violence). Whenever I went to the café, my husband had to follow me as my bodyguard and stay with me to protect me from being attacked.

In another survey of 250 Nigerian women I carried out recently, less than 15% had some knowledge of the Internet, and only about 5% actually had access to the Internet. This has inspired my vision to create a “women only” cybercafé in every state in Nigeria. My dream is to provide a safe place for women to access the Internet without fear of attack or being molested. Cybercafés could become Internet training grounds for women to raise their voices on issues that concern them and mount pressure on governments when their rights are being trampled on.

I have only been online for two years, but it has already led to many opportunities. I applied for and won a training at the Empowerment Institute in New York. I traveled out of my country and flew on a plane for the first time. I made connections that led me to become program manager for the Empowerment Institute’s Imagine program in Nigeria. I am now a reporter, photo journalist, and climate journalist. Several of my articles have been published by the Global Press Institute. I registered my Women Inspiration Development Center, where we have helped several domestic violence survivors and are currently handling a case of child rape. We have organized workshops for 150 women on “creating your life the way you want it.” This is just the beginning. Since accessing the Internet, the vision I have been carrying around for years is finally becoming a reality.

About Universal Internet Access

This article was written as part of a World Pulse action blogging campaign encouraging policymakers and international human rights bodies to address issues of universal Internet access and digital freedom. PulseWire members from all over the world have chimed in with personal testimonies addressing the question, "What does 'Universal Internet Access and Digital Freedom' mean to you?"

Comments

Ellie's picture

You are a true change leader!

Dear Busayo,

It was so inspiring to meet and spend time with you last summer (can you believe it's been a year already?!), but even more rewarding it is to read about how far you have come and of your incessant strife to share your learnings and knowledge with your community! You are truly a World Pulse change leader!

Please keep up your amazing energy and drive!

With great respect,
Ellie

busayo's picture

Thanks Ellie

Thank you very much Ellie, yes it is a year already, how time flies butthe memory of the time we shared today remain vivid, I will continue to cherish all of you.

With Love
Busayo

Busayo Obisakin
Women inspiration Development center
Ile-Ife, Nigeria
busobisaki@yahoo.com
womeninspirationcenter@gmail.com
http://womeninspirationce.wix.com/widcng

nkinyanjui's picture

Fab fab fab, love it Busayo!

Fab fab fab, love it Busayo! You have taken the first step for many Nigerian women, its amazing. The cybers across the country is a fascinating initiative, wishing you all the best girl you have come this far you are destined to go further!

Ciao for now
Naomi
http://www.pathtowomanhood254.blogspot.com

busayo's picture

Thanks!!

Hello Naomi,
Thanks for the encouragement, i really appreciate it.

Love
Busayo

Busayo Obisakin
Women inspiration Development center
Ile-Ife, Nigeria
busobisaki@yahoo.com
womeninspirationcenter@gmail.com
http://womeninspirationce.wix.com/widcng

jadefrank's picture

YES!

Busayo, my sister,

It is pure joy to see your story, and beautiful photo published here! I believe in you, and your vision and the impact you're already having on your community is HUGE... just imagine what Nigeria will look like when Women's Inspiration Centers are accessible around the country and women across your country can reach their dreams.

Lots of love,
Jade

busayo's picture

Hi Jade

Dear friend,
Good to hear your voice again, thanks for your encouragement and support. I appreciate you.

Lots of Love
Busayo

Busayo Obisakin
Women inspiration Development center
Ile-Ife, Nigeria
busobisaki@yahoo.com
womeninspirationcenter@gmail.com
http://womeninspirationce.wix.com/widcng

Jennifer Ruwart's picture

Now is the time

Busayo,

I am thrilled that we are working together once again. Now is the time to bring computer literacy training and Internet access to more people in Nigeria and beyond- we both know the transformational power accessing information and connecting online.

Once we have established your success model, women social entrepreneurs will replicate it everywhere. This will be your legacy. I cannot wait for us to get started!

Love,
Jennifer

Jennifer Ruwart
Founder and CEO
Moyo Jasiri
www.moyojasiri.com

Jennifer Ruwart
Chief Collaborator
JR Collaborations

busayo's picture

Yes, Jenny!!

I can't wait for us to start the program, it is good once again to be under the care of "Mother Hen. I am so EXCITED!!

Love
busayo

Busayo Obisakin
Women inspiration Development center
Ile-Ife, Nigeria
busobisaki@yahoo.com
womeninspirationcenter@gmail.com
http://womeninspirationce.wix.com/widcng

Erika's picture

when violence inhibits access

Hi Busayo,

I really appreciated your post and find your internet access experience beyond inspiring! The part about "yahoo boys" really echoes with problems the Association for Progressive Communications Women´s Programme has come across in so many countries - from Mexico to the Congo - in our work on violence against women and ICT.

Public cybercafés have their own serious problems. There are very few of them, and they are always congested and taken over by the “yahoo boys” (boys who engage in Internet scams and sometimes target women for violence). Whenever I went to the café, my husband had to follow me as my bodyguard and stay with me to protect me from being attacked.

Am very glad you persevered, and then proceeded to open an all-women space for the internet! impressive! With theTake Back the Tech! campaign we try to raise awareness about the way violence against women is committed even with ICT nowadays, and to make sure women and girls know about safe online communication, and how to use ICT to campaign against violence.

I wonder what is the type of violence you were facing in Nigerian cybercafes? We have heard so many things - from harassment via sms by strangers and known agressors, to invasion of privacy, sharing of intimate photos and videos publicly... even demanding sex, sexual favors or money from women and girls under the threat of exposing intimate information.... Or is the violence in public cybercafes more in that they are all-men spaces, and not so connected to technology?

Thanks for your testimony,

Erika Smith
APC WNSP
http://www.apcwomen.org
http://www.takebackthetech.net
http://www.genderit.org
http://www.genderevaluation.net

dbunton's picture

Congratulations

Congrats Busayo,

Your story is both encouraging and inspiring. Education serves as a gateway for leaders like yourself to inspire others to advance in the arena of life. In today's technological world, it is imperative to be computer literate and advanced in the most modern devices. These mediums are invaluable to movements and revolutions in human rights. Again, congratulations on both earning your master's degree, as well as in your accomplishments in learning to use the internet for your social journalism and activism.

Darren Bunton

Nezed's picture

Sister from Naija... I hear

Sister from Naija... I hear you loud and clear! Well done on this piece.. You said it the way it is...

I do not aim for Perfection; Just excellence!

Hi,

this is an inspiring story raising a lot of thoughts, thank you for sharing it!

It also raised a lot of questions in my head, considering how to actually promote access to Internet for everyone. You tell that you remained illiterate when it comes to Web 2.0 until 2009, when you got connected. You also mentioned how no one of the teachers you gave a training session had knowledge on the Internet, even though all of them were University graduates (which feels so weird for a European girl whose University Studies would be impossible to do without constantly being online).

We all here, I guess, agree how big influence Internet can have when empowering people, giving them a chance to know more and share own knowledge, even mobilizing people to make a change, no matter how big or small.
But how to reach the ones without Internet access? If they are often the ones on whose situation you'd like to see to improve, you can't rely on Internet to spread information or mobilize them. How did you, for example, first hear about how to actually make all the use of Internet, what all it can offer you, finding the training programme and women organizations etc?

Seems that you there are already doing amazing work on this issue! (I wish you all the best for making your dreams to come true!) How would you promote the women only cyber cafes, for example, kind of get women convinced that Internet is worth all the efforts and costs if they have no knowledge of it?

I just found WorldPulse yesterday and spent two days reading stories, these days have definitely widened my understanding a lot!

Heidi

Greengirl's picture

Wow!

I am so glad I came across your write up. I am really inspired by your vision to improve women's access to internet services in our beloved country.
I wish you the very best in this noble task you have passionately taken up.

Hugs!

Olanike

Frenny Jowi's picture

truth

internet access is quite expensive in Kenya, its a reserve for the elite , this makes many ordinary people miss out on money making opprounities, or career advancement opportunities

Wendyiscalm's picture

YOU ARE AMAZING

I just now read your story that was written in June. I am truly in awe and amazed at you. I hope that somehow you can spread this word more because most of us here in America surely do not know about all of this.

That aside,

YOU are an amazing spirit There is much more that you will do in and for this world. Thank you for being you and for sharing who you are and what you are doing.

Ubuntu (I am who I am because of who we are together),

Wendy Stebbins
NGO I AM ONE IN A MILLION

Wendy Stebbins
Founder/CEO
I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.

mystika802's picture

Amazing idea! Women only

Amazing idea! Women only cafés! You're an inspiration to women everywhere.

Wendyiscalm's picture

Great Idea

I love the idea of women only cafes. Can you imagine how noisy they will be with all the discussion, passion, etc.

Wendy

Wendy Stebbins
Founder/CEO
I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.

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