Speak; We Can Hear You
Growing up in the early 90's in southern Nigeria was tough.
I grew up hearing the fear in the voice of my parents and older siblings as they spoke about the then military dictator - Gen Sanni Abacha and acts of blatant human rights violation, extra judicial killings, abduction and assassination of anyone who stood in his way; everyone spoke - whispered terrible things of the military regime, but few were heard. Why? There were only what I would call old media; TV, Radio, Newspaper and most of these outfits reported what they have been instructed to report, the saying "who pays the piper dictates the tune" was true in their case. Nigeria maintained a 'good' image in the larger civil society and the international community while her citizens suffered on, uncertain about the very next minute.
Whole governments have been toppled, the worlds farthest corners and most inhumane practices have been illuminated and action has been taken and is still been taken by the international community to put a stop to these acts, all thanks to the accessibility, availability and affordability of Web 2.0, this is truly exciting for me!
Vulnerable people from across the globe- children, women, people living with different forms of disabilities, religious/sexual minorities etc can now report their stories of abuse and exploitation, marginalization, discrimination, disenfranchisement - uncut, un-doctored, in their own words!
Without Web 2.0, issues such as widow cleansing, breast ironing, female genital mutilation, curative rape may not have seen the light of the day as these practices have been in existence long before the world got a wind of it.
Personally, Web 2.0 has made it possible for me to meet and form close friendship with women from around the world, women who come from diverse cultural, socio-economic, political, religious and ethnic background and even though they appeared different from me, I have learned that we are all intricately connected - we have been beaten, misused, prejudged, exploited, humiliated; we have been dealt the worst blows YET we are still determined to keep fighting, keep pushing and most importantly we are determined to make a difference so that other women may have an easier life and within this community of global women, I have been able to share and lighten some of my burdens, I have learnt new and sometimes better ways of dealing with my past, my present challenges and make adequate plans for the future.
I have had the rare opportunity of learning new cultures and belief system and this has helped me in understanding, respecting and dealing with people from diverse backgrounds in my practice as a social worker.
In the fight for women rights and empowerment, Web 2.0 is our closest ally, because within these platforms, we have a sisterhood of women who have faced, who are facing and who may yet face similar challenges. We have a network of supporters, we are able to share our problems and sharing is paramount if we must heal and win.