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Web 2.0: Empowering those who don’t have access to it

I have been an active user of Web 2.0 for quite a while now, and I have to say I’m not entirely convinced by it. Surely the way people communicate has been revolutionized by the advent of Web 2.0, not to mention how much cheaper, environmentally friendly and borderless communication has become as a result of it. But having used social media tools, social networking, and blogging technologies for years now in an attempt to spread awareness for action, I’ve come to realize that my success as an activist cannot and should not be defined by the tools I use at the expense at the cause I’m trying to advocate for.

If you would have asked me what excites me most about Web 2.0 a couple of years ago, my answer would have been “it’s exciting because it allows me to connect with many people easily, share with them my ideas and attempt to get them on my side”. My answer today, however, would be quite different. What I would really like to do with Web 2.0 is use it to call people to true action, and when I say true action, I’m not talking about liking an article I’ve written or link I’ve posted, or commenting positively on a politically inclined picture I’ve made my profile picture. I’m talking about true, genuine, grassroots level action.

Surely Web 2.0 can work as an important tool for bringing about solutions to the global women's empowerment movement, but that’s all it’s really going to be… a tool; Web 2.0 is not a solution within itself. At most, it can be part of a solution if it actually brings about viable results to our empowerment movement. It is very important for us to realize, especially as women activists, that our results will be defined by the solutions we bring about in our communities via action and results on the ground. For example, writing an article about female genital mutilation can spread awareness, but a viable solution would be getting decision makers to pass a law that makes FGM illegal. At present, there is so much hype around Facebook and Twitter, especially due to the fact that the uprisings are being dubbed “the Facebook/Twitter revolutions”, and I’m afraid that the work of amazing grassroots-level women leaders is being muffled because of this.

Maybe it’s just my community, but the (s)heros I’m familiar with do not have Facebook or Twitter accounts. In fact, the majority of them aren’t even computer literate, let alone have a blog. Most of them are not citizen journalists because they are too busy being active citizens. And for me, to have access to the internet, to be familiar with Web 2.0 tools, and to already be a bona-fide citizen journalist, I can’t help but to think that I’m missing the point if I’m using such tools to just empower myself. To me, Web 2.0 can only be empowering if I use my access to it to empower access-less women offline.

Comments

noreens's picture

nicely written!

nicely written!

cassie_levy's picture

Yes very well written and

Yes very well written and organized. I'm very intrigued by your opinion. I agree that most of our networking platforms are used in a superficial way and have yet to achieve their full potential. You mention that "the work of amazing grassroots-level women leaders is being muffed because of this." Can you give a specific example?

To answer your question regarding grassroots-level women leaders' voices being muffled... I don't have a solid example right on the top of my head, but I do know of so much action that is done at the grassroots level that is not being reported on. This is what makes the World Pulse initiative so important. For all the women who do not use Web 2.0 to promote and spread their initiatives, it is up to those of us who have access to do so!

Tari Andrea's picture

You are truly inspiring!

Hi Rahel!

I was inspired by your story! Yes, I completely agree with you about the use of Web 2.0. It's just one of many tools that could be used by people to make their voices bigger and bigger.

As you mentioned, you have written about FGM on your personal blog so that if it's not followed by "true" action to improve community behavior; Zero. In my country, I have several stories related to FGM too. Foremost the society belief, myth, and culture.

Anyway I love the way you write, you such a person who is able to explain the thing clearly and easy to understand in spite of the real condition is not that easy to change.

In partnership,

Tari
Indonesia.

--
M&E of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria
Indonesia

"Be the change that you wish to change." - Mahatma Gandhi.

Rahel Weldeab's picture

Thank you so much for your support!

Seriously, without sounding cliche, your comments are really encouraging. The thought that you are able to relate with me while living all the way in Indonesia is just super inspiring and fills me with so much happiness. THANK YOU SO MUCH TARI!

In partnership and in Sisterhood,

Rahel
Eritrea

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