Amplifying voices through cyberspace
People have a tendency to fear what they do not understand, for such people what they do not know does not exist and trying to change the minds of perceptions of people with such an attitude is an Olympian task.
Change in Zimbabwe is associated with challenging the status quo be it in politics, society, and religious sects or in the family. For the ruling party the moment you speak about change you become an enemy of the state. All efforts are made to frustrate those who dare shake the cocoons of those in their comfort zones, hence Draconian legislation is crafted to thwart any new voices. This creates an unfriendly environment where constitutional liberties such as freedom of expression, association and movement are curtailed.
Patriarchy is 15 000 years old meaning that male dominance over women has been there since time immemorial. For a long time now men have enjoyed the fruits of suppressing women and the power which patriarchy have afforded them. This culture of dominance has been passed on from generation to generation.
It is inevitable that patriarchal views, which perpetuate the insubordination of women, are reinforced through a number of institutions such as religion educational curriculum, media and culture. These institutions preach the gospel of oppression and suppression of women under guise of observing culture. Although culture is dynamic men hold on to aspects of culture that give them unfettered power over women. This makes it difficult to empower and inspire women to take up leadership roles in society and government.
The media are a powerful tool for creating change. However it has become increasingly difficult to get the media to portray women’s issues on positive light. The mainstream media are more interested in scandal about women hence developmental stories of women never see the light of day. Moreso the media has become a tool for instilling patriarchal views in men and women alike such that some women are even feeling comfortable in their situation and efforts to advocate for change are viewed with suspicion.
To bridge this gap there is need to get more women on board, reach out to those in remote areas through threatre and drama. Engaging with media practitioners, religious and political leaders.
The power of social media network tools such as pulsewire and blogs cannot be overlooked. These tools have opened up spaces for women to talk about issues considered taboo. Through such spaces we point out social ills, injustices and offer solutions. Mobilising is made easy and we advocate for policy change through petitions. Instead of marching in streets, which can be risky, awareness raising across the world can be achieved by the click of a button. Citizen journalism ensures that women create, manage and control knowledge and advocate for policy change. Women can celebrate and share success stories. Women can freely express themselves and speak out against injustice without fear of arrests or persecution through blogs. The distance barrier is overcome by the use of chatrooms and discussion forums.