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My Testimony: Changing Women's Lives through the Internet

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W.TEC's Young Women ICT Training Program

The Internet has played a pivotal role in the direction my career and life have taken.

I fell in love with the Internet in 1994 when I first discovered that there was a resource, which gave me access to an infinite amount of information. And there was very little I loved more than finding out about things that I was interested in. I happily spent hours in the computer lab waiting patiently (and sometimes not so patiently) while I crawled my way through cyberspace.

In 2006 I volunteered for an online mentoring program for teenage girls from the Caucasus region of Europe and Asia. I wrote on my personal blog about this experience and wished aloud that a similar program existed for Nigerian girls.
One of my regular commenters, Sokari of the Black Looks blog, wrote that if I started such a project, she would be willing to support me. Until then, I was just wishing with no intention of doing anything to realize my desire. Until Sokari commented on my post.

Initially I was daunted, but then I thought “Well, why not? If not me, then who?”
So I responded to Sokari that I would think seriously about starting a mentoring project for girls. I didn’t quite know how to go about this, but since I was currently participating in one, I decided to reach out to the coordinator Katy for help. She gladly shared with me tips on how to set-up a similar project and gave me an insight into factors to consider.
So, it was in this somewhat tentative way that Sokari and I started this project, which we called Blogs for African Women (BaWO), in which we taught teenage girls in Lagos, Nigeria how to blog and how to navigate the Internet confidently but safely.

This project was the genesis of the nonprofit organization, which I founded in 2008 and now run called the Women’s Technology Empowerment Centre – W.TEC (www.w-teconline.org). W.TEC, is a Nigerian non-governmental organisation working to empower girls and women socially and economically, using information and communication technologies (ICTs). Our work is carried out through projects and workshops, which help to build technology skills and literacy among women.

Women face a unique set of circumstances that many men might not in being able to access the Internet and other information and communication technology (ICT): for instance, less disposable income to spend on technology literacy classes or to pay for time at a cyber café; multiple roles of mother, wife, home manager and sometimes career women, which might means more responsibilities and less time to learn about and use ICT; stereotypes, which implicitly tell them that these tools are not meant for them anyway.

These issues are just some of those that need to be addressed in order to properly optimize the potential that ICT offers. Other challenges include women not finding adequate information that is in their local language and which is relevant to their needs and interests.

I feel that we all have a part to play in helping Internet access for all a reality and these could include participating in political discourse to help shape policy that would reduce the prices of ICT infrastructure; creating content – through our blogs and websites – that women and others would find useful and interesting; teaching a girl or woman how to use the Internet to find answers to questions that she has.

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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.

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Comments

vivian's picture

well done sister

well done sister

Vivian

''Every woman have a story at every stage of Life''

oreoluwa's picture

thanks

Thank you, Vivian.

Fatima Waziri's picture

I am so proud of you Ore, I

I am so proud of you Ore, I shall be seeing you soon.

Peace!
Fatima

oreoluwa's picture

thanks

Thanks, Fattie! :) Are you visiting Naija soon?

Fatima Waziri's picture

yep, in september

yep, in september

Peace!
Fatima

Over the last month, PulseWire members from around the world expressed their views on the importance of Internet access, and the barriers they face. The testimonies address real barriers—like cost—where paying fees at an Internet café can mean skipping a meal that day, or battling frequent power outages can make blogging one post, a multi-day task. Women have also shared security risks faced in connecting online—from the dangers of walking to and from Internet cafes to government censorship. Yet despite the challenges and risks women endure, what has emerged is that the benefits of Internet access outweigh these challenges, and connecting to the web has enabled friendships across oceans, access to fellowships and funding opportunities, and a venue for any woman—anywhere—to have a global voice.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, emphasized the vast benefits of Internet access in his report to the Human Right Council arguing that access is a universal human right, and urging governments around the world to pass laws protecting the freedom of internet access and information. "Given that the Internet has become an indispensable tool for realizing a range of human rights, combating inequality, and accelerating development and human progress, ensuring universal access to the Internet should be a priority for all states," - Frank La Rue, UN Special Rapporteur and author of the report.

This Action Blogging Campaign will not be the last of our efforts to advocate for universal access to the Internet. Here at World Pulse we hear your concerns and are committed to addressing them. As an online community of women leaders, we want to make sure that women’s voices and their specific concerns about this important issue are heard.

Read the testimonies from PulseWire members around the world >>

Read the UN report >>

salamatu's picture

Keep it Up

You are doing a great job, Keep it UP!

Salamatu

oreoluwa's picture

Thanks

Thank you, Salamaatu!!

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