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.