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The real challenges is using Web 2.0 to bring about change on the ground

The challenges and barriers to creating change in my community are MANY! And unfortunately, it is difficult to identify the solutions to overcome these challenges when it comes to using Web 2.0, because where I’m from, there is a huge digital divide. Forget about the fact that a good majority of the (s)heroes are not computer literate, many of them don’t even know how to read, let alone write blog posts (in English) of their hard work, challenges and achievements online. I also have to admit, that I find it challenging sometimes to cooperate with such (s)heros. Being a youth and digitally connected, I want to push them to do more! I want to see them bring about even more changes than they already have without considering the drastic cultural changes it can implicate, cultural changes that might be too fast for them to adopt, let alone endorse.

Patience is quite key when it comes to promoting women leadership, empowerment and equality, but sometimes us youth are too anxious to get the ball rolling! What we fail to see many times is the advantage we have. Do we take enough time to download the toolkits and translate it in our local languages? Do we take enough time to see the fundraising opportunities and turn them into sustainable projects? Do we take the time to empower our fellow women with the tools made available to us via Web 2.0? Do we train others, especially the younger generation, to uphold the legacy of our (s)heros who have sacrificed so much for us to get this far as youth leaders? These are a bunch of loaded questions, loaded with plenty of responsibility and requires hard work. And many-a-time, it is very difficult to come up with a concrete plan to overcome such challenges.

But one thing is clear: to overcome such challenges, we need to make the most of Web 2.0, not to just spread information and to report on the amazing things our mothers have done and continue to do, but to also mobilize young women to take on similar action. I am part of a youth volunteer group created to support the women’s movement in my country. We meet regularly to discuss how to empower ourselves as well as the women’s empowerment movement in our country. By using Web 2.0, not only do I share with our group members the resources I find via Web 2.0, but I also recruit other young women, especially young professional women in our Diaspora, to be part of our cause so that they may use their professionalism to help us empower ourselves. There is no way that I can over-state the importance of having real face-to-face, on the ground action instead of just sharing information via internet. It takes true dedication and sacrifice to bring about the changes we’d like to see in our societies; it takes true grassroots initiative to uphold the legacy of the amazing (s)heroes who have brought us this far!

Comments

Rahel Weldeab's picture

Some fun facts

Some fun facts I couldn't include in the 500-words rule to posting: The vast majority of volunteers I'm able to recruit from the Diaspora are women. Oddly enough though, these women have experience and an education background ideal for contributing to the development of a developing, 3rd world country. The vast majority of them volunteer in the fields of public health, public policy, development, journalism and international relations. :)

BlueSky's picture

I agree with you so much

I agree with you so much Rahel, that we must engage in 'on the ground action instead of just sharing information on the internet.' We need to take the insights and encouragement we receive from our exemplary sisters around the globe and TAKE ACTION in our own countries. I appreciate your commitment to involve yourself in various aspects of the reformation and to avail yourself to building the youth movement in our UPrising.

Let me ask you: sounds as though you are well connected to your Diaspora. I have not been able to find any handicapped women who are able to join our campaign to voice the even greater inequities their segment of our gender suffer, from the social mind. Have you had any success in locating any disabled women who are able to give voice to their segment of our cause, in your Diaspora? It is troubling that the disabled woman has been so long dismissed that there aren’t any educated, sophisticated women of their specific group, even among our Diaspora, to join us in this revolution.

I appreciate your enterprising spirit and am grateful to be marching at your side sister.

BlueSky

Thank you for replying to my post! Having read your own post, I feel honored that such a strong woman such as yourself would take the time to write such encouraging words to me!

Due to my line of work, I am well connected with the Diaspora. And your comment regarding handicapped women is intriguing. Honestly speaking, I haven't taken any effort to ensure that handicapped women are able to join my campaigns and this is mostly due to the fact that in my country, we view handicapped people as vital contributors to our society. Due to our liberation struggle for independence (Eritrea gained its independence only in 1991), we have a lot of women who are disabled from combat. Soon after independence was gained, rehabilitation and reintegration projects were initiated so that the disabled could gain skills to continue working as active citizens within the society. Through empowerment projects and micro-credit schemes, both disabled men and women have been able to take back their lives. Owning businesses and taking up positions within various institutions, we've sort of forgot that our disabled colleagues are indeed disabled. It is common in Eritrea to have a colleague that is missing a leg, an arm, an eye, etc. One of my closest colleagues is blind, and she's an excellent counselor when it comes to HIV/AIDS awareness. (While I'm at it, I want to congratulate her for her new baby girl!!).

Still, you've reminded me of the importance of getting more in the Diaspora, especially handicapped women, involved. I've recruited volunteers to help out at the disabled veteran fighters association before, but still much more should be done. Thank you again for your encouragement and your strong voice!!

Dextra's picture

Great identification of the

Great identification of the challenge of the digital divide, so true! I think so many people forget that although web 2.0 is a great avenue for change, it is not without its own limitations in that area. I also like the way you talk about youth and their role but also the challenges that they face. Great piece, I enjoyed it!

CourtneyWilson's picture

Grassroots

I agree with you, the options Web 2.0 gives us to understand and learn from people all over the world, and are important for carrying on legacies and creating new ones. However the point you made about how important real face-to-face interaction is vital too. Incorporating these two ideas and creating change is an exciting possibility that the web has provided us.

Keep up the good work,
Courtney
VoF volunteer

Rahel Weldeab's picture

That's exactly what I am

That's exactly what I am striving for... incorporating both ideas to create change. It is a difficult task and takes serious communication and media strategy. You have to balance both the act of promoting active involvement and making projects easily available for youth to take part in. Trust me when I say that the task is exhausting! But truly the rewards are highly satisfying.

You know, I am part of a few global networks and unions and some times, face-to-face interaction is really not the best option, especially because it can be REALLY expensive. In fact, over the last month or two, a gender working group that I'm part of (GWG of UNOY Peacebuilders) discussed the issue. We would like to have a face-to-face meeting and workshop on gender equality, but to fly all of the members to Holland would be too difficult. Another challenge is getting everybody a visa. Web 2.0 is the best option in these scenarios. Despite lack of funds and tough immigration laws, we are still able to share so much knowledge and experience with each other! :)

Potter's picture

Making the Challenge Real

Rahel,, Thank you for this stellar submission. I really appreciate how very practical and realistic you are when you state the need for face to face, on the ground action. Your list of points to bear in mind (translation, fundraising, sustainable projects, training, et al) would make a wonderful table of contents for a change facilitators' handbook. Thanks you for encouraging all of us to reach out especially to younger women and to build networks, especially with women of the diasporas of the countries where we each may work. And I love how you refer to (s)heroes. I wish I could provide t-shirts for your youth group with a slogan saying, "another shero for change!"

Rahel Weldeab's picture

Thank you so much for your

Thank you so much for your support and your great ideas! You are right... those points would make a great table of contents for a change facilitators' handbook! Seriously, it is truly a great idea... I think I'll try to write such a handbook. :) I've been working my brains out trying to decide on a subject I could write about...

Another awesome idea: t-shirts with the slogan "another (s)hero for change"!! Especially when it comes to youth, if you make a t-shirt cool enough, they will wear their views and campaign for that cause.

I need to add you in my friend list ASAP!

Potter's picture

Write that book!

Rahel, I would be happy to help you with that book if you like. I could edit, brainstorm etc. Is it possible to mail something to you? I have some reference materials you might find useful. You have great brains...keep working them!!!

Rahel Weldeab's picture

Yeah! I will write that book!

Thank you so much for all of your support! Please do send me reference materials... I totally appreciate all of the assistance you are able to offer. My email address: rahel.weldeab82@gmail.com.

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