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Just how world wide is the web for women?

In the last four weeks I've had the privilege of reading the journal entries from women around the world who are hoping to take part in World Pulse's Voices of the Future social media training.

Reading about the hopes and aspirations of women living in places like Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Pakistan and Afghanistan it is clear that they are inspired by the opportunities social media offers for building community and for activism. Many of the women expressed frustration at the limits placed upon them in their cultures - and were hopeful about the opportunities the web offers for expression, communication, inspiration and action.

Problems of access such as intimidating atmospheres in internet cafes which makes them no-go areas for women, high costs of internet access and erratic internet connections have been mentioned by women on World Pulse.

A recently launched scheme Mwomen, which is supported by Cherie Booth and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton plans to increase mobile phone ownership among women was mentioned by Bilkis Olagoke in her journal.
http://www.worldpulse.com/node/29728

How important will mobile phone technology be in enabling more people to have access to the internet?
I'd be really interested to hear about the problems you and women in your community face in accessing the internet.

Comments

NyamburaFoley's picture

Very interesting...

Hi Julie,

I went down Country last year while i was in Kenya and almost all the women had mobile phones! I thought, this is great! This women are moving forward and are no longer being held back by the backward ways of tradition! However, this thought was short lived when i saw how little they knew about the functions of the little gadget.

All of them knew how to answer a call but did not know how to hung up! They knew how to make a call but they rarely did as it needed money! They vaguely knew how to send a text but then again, it needed money. They knew how to charge their mobiles but they had no electricity! It was comical in a sad way.

Increasing mobile ownership is a wonderful idea but i think they would have to tackle a lot of issues like illiteracy and money. Most women would rather put money into running the household other than running their mobile phones. Educating such women on the different functions of the phone would help greatly. As for the money...that's another story!

Have a lovely day,

Nyambura

Julie Tomlin's picture

Compexity

Hello Nyambura,

Thanks for your comments and for explaining so clearly why the answer is more complicated than just making sure that women have access to phones. There are so many more barriers to overcome if women are to use mobile phone technology.

Would you say there is a difference in the level of mobile phone use among men and women?

Best wishes,
Julie

Yours,
Julie

@julietomlin

zoneziwoh's picture

Phone 4 Women

Hi Julie -- great
I also agree with Nyamburai, a few number of women are verse with phone manipulation / operations.

I also agree that strategies should be employ to educate these women on sustainable usages of their phones

Stay Blessed

Zoneziwoh

Blog: http://zofem.blogspot.com/

facebook: Zoneziwoh

twitter: @ZoFem

Julie Tomlin's picture

Agreed..

Training as well as finance and access to phone technology are all important issues.

Take care,
Julie

Yours,
Julie

@julietomlin

NyamburaFoley's picture

Mobile Usage...

Julie, I think that there is a difference in the level of mobile phone use among men and women. having said that, i think it depends on the area, different cultures and money in the pocket.

In Third World Countries, women from the Countryside are still 'ruled' by their husbands. What happens is: The man goes out and buys a mobile phone for his wife. Along with the manual - that she can't read - he adds on his own sets of rules. The most common rule, 'DO NOT CALL UNLESS IT'S AN EMERGENCY'! Loosely translated, 'Call me only when someone in this family is dying or dead!

As for the men, they can call whoever, whenever. Men have the advantage of catching on pretty fast with technology unlike their female counterparts. Some use most of the applications offered. A man who owns a small shop is most likely to use the calculator on his phone other than use extra money to buy one. Others use the sms service availed to them, others can access the internet (depending on levels of literacy).

In the Western World, it's a different story. Women use the phone more than men. I know a woman who can last for almost two hours on the phone to another mutual friend, four houses down the road from her! It's that easy.

What are your views in regards to mobile usage?

Kind regards,

Nyambura

Julie Tomlin's picture

Mobile usage

Hi Nyambura,

That's really interesting, thank you for getting back to me. I think mobile phone technology will become increasingly important around the world as it develops. The potential as a result of women having access to relatively cheap mobile phone technology, with internet could be great but I think as you say there are many other factors which determine how those phones are used, how much freedom a woman has to use them, costs and skills etc.
In the Western world for many people there is unlimited access to phones but there are still issues around who accesses the internet.
I think phones could open up access to the internet in new and cheaper ways but there' a lot to be done before the web is truly worldwide..

Yours,
Julie

@julietomlin

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