MY TESTIMONY ON ACCESS TO THE INTERNET
By 2002, I was already a master degree holder and yet until 2009, I was a pure illiterate as far as internet and web 2.0 is concerned. I decided to buy a laptop with a loan from the bank and got my office connected. Immediately I did this the first thing I did was to go to goggle to search for women organization around the world because I have a vision for years to empower the women in my community but I did not know how to go about it. The first organization that came into view was Association of Women in Development (AWID). I went straight to the website and click to join the group. The first newsletter I received from the organization, there was this competition organized by WorldPulse, The Voice of Our Future Correspondence (VOF). Since any woman all over the world could be part of the competition, I went straight into even though I had no knowledge of journalism and I was a novice in web 2.0. It was during this program that I was able to learn so many things about internet, how to access my mail, how to attach documents to mails, how to chat on yahoo and blogging. All these we were learning online as the competition continues. Light was a serious problem in accessing internet in Nigeria, and so during the program I had to go to public cybercafé where they have standby generator because whenever light went off the internet in the office automatically goes off. The problem of the public cybercafé is also another serious problem because they are very few, always congested and taken over by the “yahoo boys” the boys that engage in internet scam. They are very wide, dangerous, fetish and women is always their target. Therefore whenever I had to go to the café, my husband had to follow me as my body guard through out the time I had to spend there to protect me from being attacked by these boys. With all these problem and the fact that to own your personal modem for browsing is very costly and unaffordable for an average civil servant in Nigeria discourage many especially the women from venture into accessing internet and so they are contented in being an illiterate as far as internet is concerned. I was in a MDG program last month as a resource person to give a training workshop to some teachers. In the workshop, I had 50 participants in which there are 37 women and 13 men. When I asked that how many of them have the knowledge of computer and internet no matter how small, there was none in the class. I was so sad and concerned that when the chairman of the Local Government came to visit us at the venue of the workshop, I took it upon myself to ask him to please organize a way by which the teachers could have access to computer and internet training and computer giving to them on credit to be paid by installment so that they too could be involved in the happenings around the world. Do not be surprised that all these participants were all university graduates of many years yet they are complete novice as regards computer and internet. In the survey I carried out recently, out of the 45% of Nigeria population whom are women according to the last census, less than 15% of this population has some knowledge of internet while only about 5 % actually have access to internet due to the reasons mentioned above. This development brought about my vision to have ‘Women Only’ cybercafé in every state in Nigeria. This will provide a safe place for women to have access to the internet without fear of attack or being molested. There will always be instructor around to teach women coming to the café that have no knowledge of internet on some rudiment on accessing internet. Therefore the café will be an internet training ground for the women, help them to be well informed of happening around the world and also able to raise their voices on issues that concern them and mount pressure on government or any quarter where the right of women are being trampled upon.
I want to say within the two years of my access to the internet, I have had series of opportunities:-
-I was able to enter into the program of Voice of Our Future Correspondence organized by worldPulse, won a scholarship to go for Empowerment Training at Empowerment Institute in NewYork. I traveled out of my country and enter a plane for the time.
- Through the training I received during the VOF program and additional training from the Global Press Institute online, I am now a journalist, a reporter, a photo journalist and a climate journalist. Several of my articles have been published by Global press Institute.
-Through the Empowerment Training I attended in NewYork, I was able to meet David and Gail, the founders of the Empowerment Institute and also the founders of Imagine Initiative who gave me the opportunity of being the Imagine program manager in Nigeria.
- The vision I have been carrying about for years not know how to make it happen became a reality during these two years. Women inspiration development center was registered with help of Worldpulse and Empowerment Institute.The Center in collaboration with Imagine Program have organized workshops for about 150 women on ‘creating Your life the way you want it’. In the center we have helped several women involved in domestic violence and we are currently handling a case of child rape. All these happening within the two years of my access to internet and I know the sky is the beginning.
Therefore I want to say categorically that ACCESS TO INTERNET IS ACCESS TO LIFE and so being deprive of it is like being deprive of life and when there is no life, the individual is dead.
In a time when freedom of expression and equal access to knowledge and ideas has become synonymous with access to the Internet, World Pulse is asking women worldwide: What does "Universal Internet Access and Digital Freedom" mean to YOU? This month, we invite you to raise your voice by writing about the everyday obstacles you face and risks you take in accessing the Internet, or how you have used it to change lives and bring about positive change in your community. Click here to learn more about this campaign and how to participate.