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Web of Influence

The development of Web 2.0 has changed the way that society works. Not only does it promote creativity and self-expression, it changes the way that governments and the private sector interact. New media has facilitated the grassroots uprising, allowing individuals and social groups to significantly influence the behaviour of decision takers.

But this is not the exciting part.

I love the rapid expansion of Web 2.0 because I see the potential it has to change the world by its nature, not just its content. Increasing dependency on new media for real time news and widened social networking will mean improvements in access to supporting technology.

It is hoped that by bringing Web 2.0 to rural and remote areas, literacy rates will be improved. Access to global networks such as World Pulse will encourage women to challenge underlying behaviours that propitiate gender stereotypes and denigrate women. Personally, I would love to see networks devoted to maintaining the culture and languages of indigenous peoples. In Australia and the Pacific, many indigenous cultures are matriarchal and women would naturally play a large role in passing on traditions and languages. Such an network could be used to share training and educational opportunities. This would promote sustainability and reduce the need for outside intervention to meet skills shortages. Though the world is striving for globalisation, I believe the community, online or otherwise, still has a role to play and that it is infinitely strengthened by Web 2.0.

User-generated content and participatory information sharing has allowed contribution of personal stories and ideas from people whose voices were not previously heard. Such information crosses borders, both geographical and cultural. Hopefully, this power can be used to celebrate multiculturalism and promote tolerance worldwide. This is the way that a peaceful world will emerge.

However, the effectiveness of these tools for women's empowerment will rely on the commitment of governments to provide access to technology. The emergence of 'smart phones' has encouraged strengthening of the 3G and WiFi networks that allow wireless internet access. In Australia, the government is rolling out a National Broadband Network that will bring high-speed internet to rural and remote as well as metropolitan areas. Such programs show forward thinking and will hopefully be undertaken worldwide.

Web 2.0 empowers me, as a change-maker, to more readily identify the needs of girls and women. It helps my organisations and networks ensure that current and future programs are really meeting the needs of women and communities. Data is now easily shared to large amounts of people via social media. By sharing shocking statistics about economic participation of women and gender based violence, issues are frequently raised on the agendas of decision takers. I use Web 2.0 for inspiration - both warm and fuzzy and project oriented. By sharing in the successes of women worldwide, I am constantly amazed and challenged by what we can achieve. Seeing the struggles of women world wide also inspires me to generate projects that will improve their lives.

Comments

rozjean's picture

Web of Influence

Hi Jane,
I was really interested in your idea of networks devoted to maintaining the culture and languages of indigenous peoples, especially those that are matriarchal. I agree that maintaining communal ties, especially in this era of globalization, is very important. I would love to hear more of your personal vision of how this would work!
Warm wishes,
rozjean

Jane_Australia's picture

Thanks rozjean

Thanks rozjean,

I am not from an indigenous Australian background, but I really believe in the importance of not losing these cultures. We are very conscious in Australia of a huge gap, particularly in health, education and economic participation, between indigenous and non-indigenous populations. The Australian government is spending a lot on providing broadband to the majority of our country. With this infrastructure will come brand new uses for Web 2.0. I would love to see Web 2.0 tools be specially developed to improve education in indigenous communities, both formal and non-formal. This technology will also be perfect to bridge gaps between cultures with positive discussion.

Particularly, I would like to see social networks used to engage young people and promote healthy living, participation in positive community activities and to promote education and training opportunities. By equipping young people with advocacy skills, we will gain a more insightful idea of the challenges facing especially rural and remote indigenous communities.

Just some ideas at the moment... I am still putting it together in my mind =)

Jane

Emily Garcia's picture

Thanks!

Hi Jane,

Thank you for your post! Up until reading 'Web of Influence' I hadn't spent much time thinking about how important our goverments will be (and have been) in determining access to new media technology. I had previously taken the equation only so far as to see the economic importance of investment in research and in building infrastructure without acknowledging that governments are often what lie at the end of this equation. Especially considering what has been going on this year in Arab nations with governments shutting down Internet access during uprisings, it's important to factor in government policy as an influential factor in women's access and use of new media technology.

Warmly,

Emily

Emily Garcia
World Pulse Online Community Lead

SallyB's picture

Clear voice

Thanks for your post! You're absolutely right about the importance of connecting women's voices from indigenous communities (both matriarchal and not). I wonder what you mean by "my organisations and networks".

Jane_Australia's picture

Organisations and networks

Hi SallyB,

I am involved in a number of non-for-profit organisations and networks that work mainly in the sectors of Youth and Women. For example, I sit on the Policy Advisory Council for the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition. This is a network of peak bodies for youth. Though not run by the government, AYAC advises the government on best practice and policy for dealing with youth issues and supporting youth. What I was saying in this post is that we already rely on Web 2.0 quite a lot to make sure that the views of young people are accurately represented. Web 2.0 is also a powerful tool for measuring the success of projects. We can now talk about the number of 'hits' or 'retweets' as a way of measuring the coverage of the issue.

Really, I just wanted to say that I see the power of Web 2.0 for implementing effective projects on a daily basis and I hope that it can be extended.

Jane

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