The Power of Connectivity
The global empowerment of women depends heavily if not solely on the linking of individuals and ideas; the ability of women (and men) to move beyond local boundaries, and share not only problems but more importantly solutions. This is the power of Web 2.0; its ability to permeate all social levels, age groups and geographical stories. It is this power that makes Web 2.0 exciting. Raising awareness, creating friendships, Web 2.0 is simply one platform created to make this easier. Whether it is through writing a letter, blogging or chatting, this connection is power, power to change even the mind set.
Having finished my studies a few weeks ago, I recently got the privilege to intern with an organisation called CIET. Through my work I have had the opportunity to visit rural communities and slums in both Swaziland and Botswana and was exposed to the plight of young women. I have been haunted by sombre thoughts since then. There are young women in slums and rural villages who are struggling in difficult circumstances: poverty, drug abuse, sex, unwanted pregnancies. Some do not know of a different life and more sadly some have given up on dreaming of a better life.
On the other hand there are girls who are rising beyond their unfortunate circumstances, by daring to dream. They are not living in the suburbs, they do not have electricity in their huts and the nearest town is miles away. They have not gone to fancy schools; they do not have college education but these girls are dreaming big. They are starting entrepreneurial activities despite their challenges. They are not afraid to start small and work hard, and their stories are inspiring.
What if these two groups of young women were to be connected? Is it possible that all young women can start dreaming again? If every young woman across the globe was to at least read the stories of young women empowering themselves regardless of their disadvantages, won’t this not have a ripple effect? I know my life has been inspired by stories of women across the world, and I believe the empowerment of women depends on our coming together. The statistics have confirmed the need for women to connect “only 16% of global news stories focus on women. Almost half (48%) of all news stories reinforce gender stereotypes, and only 19% of experts cited in global news stories are women”. * However, through the use of Web 2.0 grass root experiences are being re-told on a global platform, thus facilitating the mobilisation of ideas and resources. These stories are not only stimulating, but also have the power to change even the mind set, the power to make young women dream.