CHANGE-CAUSING CONFLUENCE OF WOMEN’S VOICES VIA WEB 2.0
“Close your eyes and imagine three situations. That of a manager in a software company assigning work to his subordinate, a doctor instructing a nurse and an editor talking to a reporter”. That was the instruction from a facilitator at a workshop. Later she asked if any of us had imagined a woman in the role of the boss (ie) the manager, doctor or editor. None of us had, though half the participants were women that included four women doctors and a woman editor! The gender stereotype is so ingrained in us that even empowered women are unable to think in different terms.
And so I realize that the change has to start from within. The only way I know of, to bring about that change, is to write. A few hundred people might read my outpourings in a Tamil print magazine, a few thousands in an English one. Of the thousands, when a handful of readers write to say how my article has helped or brought about a positive change, the article has served its purpose. Then I come to know of Web 2.0 and what do I learn? When I put my write-up online, I need not worry that the editor will go snip, snip, snip with my article, editing important portions, citing various reasons. And I need not be confined to my state or my country, but can connect beyond borders and boundaries. That is an exhilarating feeling.
I have been concerned about women in distress; about the youth of the city slums and the rural youth who lack exposure, education and confidence. (I strongly feel about empowering all those who need to be empowered, and not just a specific target group). I have been wondering how I could reach out to them and empower them. I have also been concerned about various issues such as female foeticide in my native state, women farmers struggling to combat climate change-related issues in the state of Uttar Pradesh, women who are ostracised during menstruation, maternal deaths during childbirth, bonded labour, manual scavenging and many more. Just when I was toying with the idea of using the online platform to address these issues, I learn here that I can and I should, courtesy Web 2.0.
I have to be candid that I am bogged by questions such as: How to reach those who cannot access the internet and are too poor to buy mobile phones, How do I build the network beyond my circle of friends, How do I protect my community site from unwanted contents being posted by users, etc. But knowing that I have a tool that I can use has given me the confidence that a small step that I take will soon gather momentum towards achieving my vision.