Giving us a voice and freedom
I grew up in the age of post office mails which we now refer to as ‘snail mail’. I recall how I would ensure I get enough stamps at the beginning of the term; of course the first letter was home to inform my parents that I had arrived safely. I looked forward to receiving letters from my friends especially during the school holiday. The letter would take about 2 weeks at the minimum and a reply the same duration of time. I remember a special friend that we were to meet but somehow bounced and this started a strained period and eventually we parted. I only knew after a month that he had fallen sick! There was no way of communicating if something went wrong. Fixing for meeting dates meant you include a venue, a geographical mark etc. and be prepared to wait for long period of time in case the other person got late. On the information side, I grew up when we had only one radio and TV station. The radio station had several stations in different languages, but essentially…just one! We had to wait for evening to know what had happened throughout the day. That now seems very ancient!
I am currently away from home, and I get excited to know that I can find out what is happening at home through online communication. That is one thing that excites me about Web 2.0, being in touch with a global village. Knowing that I can keep updated regardless of where I am has been one of the greatest innovations of this century.
Often times, women’s voices are not heard due to patriarchal hindrances. Issues raised by women could be seen as trivial and not worth of national attention. At the home front, some women cannot comfortably air their views as they are seen to be less important. In my community, the name for a woman is ‘mutumia’ and we are informed over and over that this implies ‘gutumia’ which means ‘keeping quiet’. A ‘good woman’ therefore is one who knows how to ‘shut up’. In most communities in the world, the aspect of women being seen and not heard has been common. The media has been an important tool in bringing about change but media in most cases is controlled and owned by the male. The new media therefore offers an opportunity for women to be heard where a woman is the author, editor, and final authority over her content. This ensures that issues that women consider important are highlighted. The tools are also critical for movement building where women from all walks of life come together for a common cause.
I find the tools empowering because I have been able to engage on issues that address women’s concerns and get others to join. I learn about what is happening in other areas and also get networks of likeminded women who I can use as resources in addressing pertinent issues.