Empowering women as a means to ending poverty
Women’s access to Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) is subject to factors such as affordability, availability, training, ownership and control. ICTs can be used to leverage women’s position, improving their socio-economic and political status – leading to the establishment of gender sensitive policies and the emancipation of women. ICTs can also be used to overcome access and infrastructural constraints, and social and cultural impediments.
The issue of eradicating poverty among women in Zimbabwe and at international level has always been a strong motivational factor in my life. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism and Media Studies I worked for a women’s organisation that was providing women with practical skills and knowledge on ways to reduce poverty and bring sustainable development. After a while I realised that there was more to reducing poverty among women than just giving them handouts and perfecting the hands on skills to make soap, lotions and other household goods. Women needed information so that they could make meaningful social, economic and political decisions.
This prompted me and some of my media colleagues to set up an organisation aimed at improving women’s access to information as a means of addressing day to day challenges they face including reducing poverty among women through lobbying for policies and resources from the government and local traditional leaders.
The Creative Centre for Communication and Development (CCCD) was established in 2008 with a mission of building local capacities and abilities of marginalised and vulnerable groups in the strategic and creative use of communication to enable them to express their needs, to make their voices heard, to manage their own communication, and to participate fully in their own development through implementing participatory communication approaches to change public values and beliefs that are essential for long-term social change.
CCCD believes that communication is the missing link in advancing human rights and other fundamental freedoms. As such, our focus is on building a communication rights culture where there is an exchange and progression of thoughts, feelings and ideas towards a mutually accepted goal with ICTs playing a central role.
In 2009, the organisation embarked on a project, Bringing Voices from the margins that was aimed at Increasing awareness of Communication Rights at grassroots level and the need to promote them in order for people to enjoy other basic human rights and empowering HIV positive women and adolescent girls with knowledge and skills to lobby and advocate for their sexual and reproductive health rights (including communication rights) using information and communication technologies (ICTs). The project targeted 30 women and 30 girls, the majority of them had no knowledge of computers. After three months of intensive computer training, the women can now use computers to access information that is pertinent to their development. Some of the women are now employed and others have gone back to school while others are using the skills gained to build and sustain their small businesses.
I received training from the World Pulse to use Web 2.0. This training was stragetic as I was doing it for the women that I work with. I desire was to introduce them to online social media and enable them to expand their territories and link them to other women as we sought to use ICT to boost their businesses and to seek, receive and impart information that would change their lives.