'Man defiles girl and gets infected with HIV' read today’s news headline. A light conversation with a man seated next to me in a public service vehicle about this subject surprisingly pointed an accusing finger at the defiled girl. As more men overheard our discussion they collectively took the man’s side. Key to note was that the women on board, evidently the majority, sat silently as I defended the girl. Shocked, dismayed and disappointed at this reaction I sought refuge in my phone and Facebooked, Tweeted and Blogged this headline. These are elements of Web 2.0 application and consequently received tremendous input from WOMEN within seconds. Would it have been the same reaction if women online were in this bus with a few outspoken men? The most exciting factor about Web 2.0.is that it is more than technology, an attitude that gives relinquishing control to set data free as well as communicate in a local yet meaningful global way, more or less a platform for all.
It is an open secret that women in Africa, specifically Uganda, have limited access to internet use and the few who do, may not exactly front for women’s empowerment. An example is given of the many women who get glued to their TV sets watching soap operas from channel to channel. The emotional attachment is amazing but these women may find it hard to make sense of the huge amount of information they receive. The same can be said of the internet especially Web 2.0. Some have used it for emotional benefit especially young women. However, this is not reason to fear for the future or weep for the past. A sticker on my friend’s door says, “Even if I let you in doesn’t mean I can’t kick you out!” and clearly points out what I am driving at. The solution to this can be infotainment, creatively invoking entertainment and information and by so doing, many get attracted to the given events while learning so much.
These tools are empowering because I have unlimited control to set the agenda for the day by posting on my walls, blogs and tweets whilst the feedback I receive , be it positive or negative, is without fear. I also have an opportunity to view what others are talking about and to share views that shape me. Certainly, it has been said that a child educated only at school is an uneducated child. Web 2.0 has become a learning environment, a transmission tool for civilization. By virtue of the knowledge I have attained from interacting with others my confidence to front for women’s empowerment becomes possible simply because it is easier to be wise for others than for ourselves. George Burns says, “too bad that all people who really know how to run a country are busy driving taxi cabs or cutting hair.” Web 2.0 may not be a place that was designed for the purpose of empowering women but it has certainly helped empower me !