Change the Media, Change the World
I remember when I first became aware of women’s issues being relevant not just in some far distant place but also of being of key importance in my own community. In New Zealand, being a liberal democracy, there is often a perception that the women’s movement has succeeded completely and there is no more need to discuss women’s issues. It was an isolating and lonely time when I was filled with thoughts about issues but no one around me understood or cared. It was through new media and Web 2.0 technologies that I was able to connect with other like minded women and really re-evaluate how I thought about the world. The feminist blogosphere changed my thinking in ways I cannot even begin to describe. This is what excites me most about Web 2.0, the ability it has to connect people who are often the lone voice in their communities. It allows us as women to provide support to each other from across the globe and in doing so strengthen each others’ voices.
Web 2.0 technologies also provide us with concrete tools for activism that have the potential to take our issues from our communities to the world. One only has to look at the mobilisation of people that was made possible through social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter to form large protest movements as seen during the Egyptian revolution and more recently during the campaign for clean and fair elections in Malaysia (Bersih 2.0), to know that the power of these channels has not yet been fully seen. I have been privileged to work with a group of women human rights defenders from China and even in a country with strict controls on the internet they have been able to use Web 2.0 effectively. For example using twitter to mobilise people to come together and observe when an individual is being arrested to prevent their mistreatment at the hands of the police, and documenting human rights violations and posting them to blogs and videos on Youtube.
Women as a whole are still largely excluded from traditional media due to existing power structures but Web 2.0 technologies have provided us with a way of bypassing traditional media so that we can tell our stories to the world and make sure that our issues are not lost in the shuffle. Web 2.0 offers us community instead of isolation, knowledge instead of ignorance of each other and each other’s issues and a voice instead of silence. For me personally the tools available through Web 2.0 have enabled me to learn more than I ever could have otherwise and given me a platform for my activism that I never could have had without them. I believe that a large part of our goal as citizen journalists is to change how others see women and women’s issues and Web 2.0 gives us a much broader stage from which to tackle this important task.