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Empowering Women Through Social Media

In a world ravaged by rapidly declining natural resources and seemingly endless poverty, the need for communities to connect and understand one another is more apparent to me than ever before. While increasing technology and globalization have allowed some international corporations to pit workers in different regions of the world against one another (as they compete for lower and lower wages), the irony is that the same technology has also made it possible to eliminate nearly all of our current and pressing global social concerns. Advancements in clean energy, food production and distribution, medicine and diplomacy have all grown exponentially over the past decade.

Given these advancements, I am a firm believer that poverty can only be perpetuated through the fabricated notion of “other”—the idea that somehow one group of people is different, less able, less willing, or less interested in engaging than another. When people across the globe are able to connect with one another to share their lives, stories, and struggles, it becomes impossible to maintain the notion of “other.” I am most excited about Web 2.0 because I believe it is one way to immediately start making inter-group connections happen.

I believe there is incredible untapped power in the global community of women who want to support each other. I also believe that direct communication is the best way to share knowledge and resources. Unfortunately, international travel is expensive and is often associated with the “elite” of each society. The best thing about social media is that it empowers “average” women, who do not necessarily have the resources, to immediately and directly connect with one another—even when they are thousands of miles apart. As demonstrated by the statistics about women and the media prefacing this assignment, the media often reinforces gender stereotypes and sometimes actually actively prevents empowerment. We are told that gender expectations are too strong, and that large scale organizing is not possible. Only through direct communication can we learn the truth about what one another is doing, and only with this knowledge can we choose to contribute together. There is incredible power in numbers, and with nearly half of the world’s population being female, together almost anything is possible.

Web 2.0 has already empowered me because it has inspired me to learn more about what women in different regions are doing to improve their communities. I am by training a community organizing social worker. I am fascinated by social movements and the origins, strengths, challenges, and consequences of gender based expectations in different global regions. While it is a dream of mine to travel the world, mobilizing and talking with women from other countries about what they are doing in their own communities and how, I do not currently have the resources. Connecting online with the women activists I hope to one day meet; and simply reading about their stories, struggles, hopes, and dreams has inspired and challenged me to find ways to contribute that I had never before imagined.

Comments

lydia's picture

Great start!

Social media is indeed a powerful tool in eliminating the notion of the "other." Too often we are frightened by the unfamiliar, letting our fears escalate until a wall is build between "us" and "them". Demonizing the "other" creates lines of division in a world that should be striving to become more intimate. (Your paragraph on the "other" is a poignant observation for your journal entry, especially in light of the current Israeli-Palestinian talks.) Striving for inter-group connection through the use of social media is a large step in the right direction.
I appreciate your observations not only on the "other", but also on the power of Web 2.0 to mobilize women to connect and make a difference--something World Pulse strives for. It would be wonderful to hear more of your experiences. As a social worker, you must have a rich tapestry of stories, solutions and setbacks to draw from as you reach out to women across the globe. Let your unique life experience come through these journal entries so we can learn from you!
Warm Regards,
Lydia

Tina Mason's picture

Hi! I have really enjoyed

Hi!

I have really enjoyed reading your article, and I really like you're writing style, it means the key points that you make are clear and digestible.

When reading what you've written about technology I was thinking of the quote by the Dalai Lama 'Paradox of our Age' one section reading; "...We build more computers to hold more information to produce more copies then ever, but have less communication..." and it really got me thinking how web. 2.0 can be such an amazing tool for overcoming this paradox. Perhaps it will be women who will lead in the use of this channel to connect and communicate at a deeper level, to really challenge social and institutionalised discrimination and divisions.

I also support what you have written about overcoming the illusion of 'otherness' and this space for me feels like a very visible and moving way of putting unity into practice, to feel part of the whole and to feel like you are able to support and be supported.

Also one other thing I was thinking in regard to not having the resources to travel, one way of still being able to make connections in person from around the world without having to travel could be in hosting others, there are sites like couch surfing and hospitality club which are all about these kinds of exchanges.

All the best to you, and hope to hear more

Tina

lauralf's picture

We are the media!

Hi!
I share your enthusiasm in the power of our own stories that we can share in online platform for change, like World Pulse. Like you so well pointed out, mainstream media often perpetuate gender stereotypes, but we finally have the opportunity to learn about how strong and brave women all over the world are fighting for social justice. Very empowering!

I do agree with Lydia: I would love to learn more about how your life experiences have shaped your vision. I look forward to your next entries!

best,
Laura

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