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.