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My thoughts on Web 2.0 and Women

Being Zimbabwean – and therefore living within a polarised political and media environment – what excites me most about Web 2.0 is that it is providing a platform for Zimbabweans without partisan or hegemonic perspectives on things to share their views together and thereby create alternatives to the dominant opinions that the mainstream media would like us all to hold.
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Web 2.0 allows for anonymity as well as amplification – both of which are often necessary for women coming from repressive societies to be able to tell their stories without fear of recrimination. Web 2.0 also takes out the gatekeeper (eg. content editor, media owner) who so often has vested interests in censoring information that needs to be known. In our Zimbabwean media discourse, talking about sexual and reproductive health rights remains taboo – and mentioning ‘offensive’ words such as ‘vagina’ or ‘sex’ remains something that the male-dominated media sector shies away from. A 2009 ‘Glass Ceilings’ report for southern Africa revealed that the average proportion of women in the media in the region was 41%. If South Africa was excluded, the proportion dropped to 32%.
Coupled with this is the fact that many female journalists suffer sexual abuse at the hands of their male peers and superiors. Women can therefore create their own safe spaces through Web 2.0.
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Last year in October, I began my own blog because of the frustration I felt at the fact that important issues that need to be discussed are not being addressed by our mainstream media. My blog is called ‘Fungai Neni’ and means ‘Think with me’.

I discuss everything from women’s rights, sex, HIV, concurrent relationships, reflections on life and other musings which I know would never make it into the local media because they are deemed to be too shocking for readers (one editor actually once told me this).

Through it I have been able to interact with people from all over the world to find out if the same things that I witness and experience in my own culture are things that women elsewhere identify with. Once I wrote about the taboo attached to women drinking beer in public in Zimbabwe and a UK-based reader was completely shocked that such an act could warrant the reaction of one being called a whore.

My blog has opened my eyes and sharpened my perspective on things.

But eleven months into its existence with around 13 500 blog visits, I still feel that this platform can become bigger and better. My dream is to develop discussion manuals on the issues that have been featured on my blog to cater for women in communities without access to the Internet. I also want the blog to become a portal for more extensive information sharing and relationship building among women who are committed to overthrowing the harmful dictates of patriarchy.

Comments

ShukThi's picture

So well written

Thank you for sharing your perspective with the World Pulse community, Fungai! I enjoyed reading your piece.

You weave the personal meaning of blogs and other Web 2.0 spaces with the global change that they are creating so eloquently. Your specific story about starting your own blog and the connections you have made through it provide a powerful example of positive change that we can create with these tools.

You are right, anonymity can be so important when we are at the front lines of activism. It looks like your particular focus on sexual and reproductive rights is an explosive one in the context of your country. Best of luck with your work, and I hope we can support each other from across continents!

My work too revolves around fighting gender-based violence with a focus on positive sexuality.

Fungai Machirori's picture

Thanks!

I was certain I responded to this... I guess sometimes my Internet connection doesn't take!

Oh yes, we must speak! It is our life force. We must act. It is our responsibility. Keep at it my sister and never stop piercing pockets of light through the darkness with your voice, the mightiest of swords.

from today i live out of my imagination
i am more than my yesterday
tomorrow i plant a new seed
nothing that lies behind easy
nothing that is ahead real
my within is all i have today
*Napo Masheane*

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on web 2.0 and its potential. It is great to hear your vision and ideas and I want to encourage you to continue with your writing. Your blog is great.

Yours,
Julie

@julietomlin

Fungai Machirori's picture

Thank you very much!

Hi Julie

World Pulse is really amazing. There are so many women out there through whom we can each feed off to become stronger. Every word of encouragement is always appreciated. Thank you very much!

from today i live out of my imagination
i am more than my yesterday
tomorrow i plant a new seed
nothing that lies behind easy
nothing that is ahead real
my within is all i have today
*Napo Masheane*

Christine.Dahl's picture

I am glad you have the

I am glad you have the courage to write about what you think and see. I was very interested in reading what you have to say and look forward to reading more. I like the title of your blog - think with me, instead of think for me. Thank you for sharing your strength and voice.

Warmly
Christine

Fungai Machirori's picture

Thank you

My name means to the think. It's the best name, although it's always likened to Fungi! Maybe my thoughts mushroom!

This is why I was born - to write write write!!! I am glad that you are enjoying the reading!

from today i live out of my imagination
i am more than my yesterday
tomorrow i plant a new seed
nothing that lies behind easy
nothing that is ahead real
my within is all i have today
*Napo Masheane*

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