Women and Web: a combination for change
What gets me really excited about Web 2.0? Well, in my email signature, I have that famous quote by Gandhi that tells us we must be the change we want to see in the world. That's exactly what Web 2.0 offers. Endless possibilities to shape a world where "the people" take back communication, are not talked down to and can interact with each other and be creators of change.
To make a Facebook analogy, with the click of a mouse, women and men everywhere can comment, like, tag, friend, post links, comment again, engaged in lively discussions... But beyond that, being "social" online also and more importantly means, that you can create change by educating others and sharing important information about social issues and by generating excitement and support for social change.
A case in point, I received a Facebook messsage from a friend saying she needed support to return to Sudan with her film crew to finish the production of her film The Waiting Room. She needs $10 000. Incredibly, she's more than half way there! I received the Facebook message from my friend on Friday September 17. Won't take my word for it? Check it out for yourself. (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/317095003/the-waiting-room-a-reveali... ) The film tells the stories of young Sudanese women and men at a crucial time in the country's history. The film goes beyond the Darfur war pictures we've been incessantly fed by the media and takes an intimate look at the lives of youth ranging from 8 to 30 years of age. “The Waiting Room is an intimate portrait of a society that remains unknown to most and misunderstood by many," writes Alexandra.
And, while all this change is exciting, Web 2.0 also brings with it an element of immediacy that can also and very tragically lead to a twisted glorification of violence against women. Recently, in a town North of Vancouver, Canada, pictures of a 16 year old girl who, according to police, was gang raped by 7 men, were posted on Facebook by a 16 year old boy. So, what are the solutions to empower women against such repulsive acts? Education. Education. Education. Teach young women and girls (as well as boys), from a every early age, with websites like "Take back the Tech" (http://www.takebackthetech.net/ ) that violence is absolutely unacceptable and show positive examples of what technology can do for women and men worldwide. Show films like the ones produced for Pangea Day (www.pangeaday.org) for example! Source stories about successful and engaging women from places like Women's e-News (www.womensenews.org).
I know that Web 2.0 has endless possibilities. I see it in my work with radio broadcasters, who work to serve rural communities in Africa. Every week, they broadcast the solutions and innovations that rural women and men come up with to face their challenges. We email the broadcasters in our network with different stories every week. We blog the stories. The broadcasters adapt the stories in local languages and broadcast them to their audiences. To me, that's the beauty of it...information flows from email to microphone to radio transmitter. And, beyond the radio transmitter is where the real change is happening.