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rural empowerment

What does web 2.0 mean to you.
In Zimbabwe, access to the internet has in the past only been for the lucky few with computers at home or those who could afford to go to internet cafes, or even saw the need, until around 2010 when one of the 3 mobile service providers introduced mobile internet. It was only then that we saw the emergence of 3G enabled phones and now people were introduced to such forums as face book. But unfortunately not many see or know the potential those social forums have to change their lives and empower them.

With my interest in rural development and championing the total economic and social empowerment of rural girls and young women, web 2.0 gives me an opportunity to harness existing mobile technologies for rural development. Rural populations in Zimbabwe generally have no access to information, or much of anything else for that matter. With the innovative use of web 2.0, we can always offer ideas on how these mobile technologies can be utilised as development tools for example how news can be shared among communities that seek awareness from anything from HIV/Aids, tuberculosis, education, community announcements etc. Now we can provide rural populations with an interactive platform for development issues that cover everything from water, sanitation, health, education, death, births, and everything that makes rural life what it is.
It can only be through these forums that the rural girls can have a glimpse into a life with great possibilities not just limit themselves to fetching water and firewood. In a place where the education of girls is still not a priority especially to rural fathers, I need for them to have a voice, have a say into what their future is going to be like , not be limited by cultural obligations like forced marriages. It is through these new media tools that we can let the world know about these social injustices by giving them a voice and it is through generating online interest that we can raise funds for the education and subsequent empowerment of these girls and young women. It is only a matter of time before we see the emergence of rural bloggers, tweets from young village women about the challenges they face, multimedia content from the village grapevine documenting how they are surviving.

But of course this will not be an easy ride because the barriers that could hinder this access to information to all rural folk will be accessing the most remote of rural villages where the terrain is not very friendly, which could mean excluding areas that require this innovation the most. This can however be made possible through work with development-based nongovernmental organisations that work in diverse areas in the rural areas, that have access to village populations on a level that we cannot possibly attain.

Besides this, there are network coverage problems as some areas in the country still have poor mobile phone reception, though we can derive comfort in that the country’s 3 service providers have announced ambitious plans to penetrate every corner of the country.

Comments

KaitlynMalk's picture

Connect!

Hello cj,

Greetings from the Dominican Republic!

I really liked your post... it is crazy to think that in the year 2011 the internet is still a foreign concept to some people! Hopefully in the years to come though, even the most rural areas of Zimbabwe will have access to the web so that women like you can share their stories.

Good luck with the rest of your assignments and I look forward to hearing your voice!

Kaitlyn

cj's picture

Thank you. Its crazy out here

Thank you. Its crazy out here because most people have absolutely no idea what the net is all about. An example is NUST, the second largest varsity in the country doesn't have a wiffi hotspot. Students actually have to commute to town to be able to do their research. And we say we are in the 21st century!!

Cj

Rakiba's picture

Hi cj, This is a great way to

Hi cj,
This is a great way to begin and share your stories with us.I would also like to say that its not only Zimbabwe which has limited access to internet but there are more countries in the world where only certain number of people can get the priviliege of using modern technology..

Well written and I liked your post too..

Wish you a good luck !!

pheebsabroad's picture

Getting the Word Out!

Hey CJ,
It is heartening to hear that not only do you want to have access to the internet - - but that you want to use it as a tool to connect and educate others around you, both near and far. I firmly believe that we can all make a difference...good luck!

Pheobe

Greengirl's picture

Hello CJ

Thank you for your illuminating information about the situation of Information Technology Access in Zimbabwe. It is the same story for many communities across the under developed and developing countries. Permit me to say here that lack of access to Information Technology tools and applications is not just a rural affair. I live in an Urban area of my country though much of my work is concentrated in rural and sub urban areas. I am fortunate enough to have access to the internet which I hardly can maximize because the service is very erratic and consequently unreliable. The only assured way of having a dependable access to the internet is for one to subscribe to more than one Internet Service provider. You would wonder how many people can keep up with the cost implications. Worst still, the on-grid power supply leaves much to be desired. Sometimes I am unable to use my lap top for days as a result of power outage. You would agree with me that a laptop or desk top is useless without efficient power supply. The good news I have to share with you, however, is that when one woman is empowered she can extend the benefits to other women in her network or community. You can be a voice for your self , a voice for your community or both. I have no doubt that you will not stop speaking for yourself and others. Keep up the good work you are doing.

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