Muted Voices: Web 2.0 As a Tool of Empowerment
Until now, grassroots women have been 'mute,' spoken for by men and women in positions. The grassroots women’s view points have thus far been buried, yet these women have very powerful insights to share based on their work as mothers nurturing, loving, and protecting the family and the earth. Although they make over half of the world’s population, women’s perspectives with regard to issues that affect all of us - environment, political, social, cultural, health, peacebuilding, healing, and reconciliation - have been erased by patriarchy. I am so excited about Web 2.0 because it has opened the way to an information revolution where women can at last speak for themselves!! Web 2.0 enables women to create their own information, tell stories from their perspective, and share their ideas with everyone who cares to listen – and many women out there and some men, do care to listen and learn from our women.
Web 2.0 offers the global women’s empowerment movement a platform from which to speak, share, interact and build networks and communities that hitherto were limited by ideology, space and distance. The movement was also overlooked by a male dominated media but through Web 2.0, women can now interact, create and share information without middlemen. The tool places information in the hands of women, who get to tell their stories based on the way they see the world and in their own words. The platform also enables women to share their stories with other women from around the world, thus inspiring each other to see they can do something about issues affecting them. I remember recently reading on World Pulse the story of an Indian girl who ran away from her home because her brother, the parents' favorite 'boy' was sexually molesting her. She could not share her abuse with anyone at her home but she got the courage to share the story in World Pulse because she felt that the community in World Pulse would ‘hear’ and support her.
Web 2.0 will enable me to share and test my ideas with others across the globe. Through World Pulse for example, I have been able to share ideas about the work I do with women living with HIV/AIDS and orphans. Through this tool, I hope to introduce the women in my network to also join World Pulse so that they can speak for themselves. For me, Web 2.0 has enabled expansion of my network across the globe. I have also learned a lot about the struggles other women are going through, as well as benefited from solutions other women have created to overcome the challenges they face. Learning about entities like Ushahidi that hold promise for building global movements and coalitions for social change, puts the power of organizing in the hands of citizens, revealing what is possible for the women i work with and for myself as a peace proactivist. I have been able to raise awareness about my work and create connections through Web 2.0. Speaking for myself, sharing my life and work with other women from around the world and getting feedback and support from people I do not even know has been very exciting and enriching.