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Web 2.0: What's in it for Women?

Web 2.0 has an amazing ability to break down barriers, whether geographical or social. It would have been a distant dream for almost all of us to interact with individuals from around the world and across different social strata and cultural affinities, expending minimal effort and money. With access to Web 2.0, such connectivity is just a click away. Web 2.0 accelerates ‘collaborative consumption’ as users create and share content they feel is not only of interest to themselves but also to the wider community. Web 2.0 fosters participatory behaviour as is evident by the sheer number of likes, comments, and Tweets, expressing different opinions.

The most exciting attribute of Web 2.0 is that it empowers individuals to be active global citizens. Through our activities on Web 2.0, we engage in digital advocacy; challenge certain beliefs, policies, and actions; encourage others to get involved in various decision-making processes; and contribute to the existing pool of knowledge. It has never been easier to mobilize resources, such as funds and volunteers, to bring a noble cause into fruition. With the amount of data that Web 2.0 stores, it can be a massive historical document.

Global women’s empowerment movement gains momentum through its ability to reach out to people in order to share information sometimes from the remotest regions, to seek assistance for pro-equality projects, and to support other activists. Victims of injustice can connect with each other and find or, better yet, create platforms to demand and realize justice. For instance, Facebook page Guerrilla Force against Eve-teasing (ইভটিজিং বিরোধী গেরিলা বাহিনী) unites Bengali-speaking women against sexual harassment and regularly shares relevant research outcomes and thought-provoking stories. One of the reasons women endure spousal abuse is that they are economically dependent on their partners. Web 2.0 has made it possible for countless women to unleash their potential and to be self-sufficient through online businesses and freelancing.

While women’s representation is low offline, Web 2.0 presents opportunities for their voices to be heard. Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, has talked about how women are not only the majority of its users, but drive 62% of activity in terms of messages, updates, and comments, and 71% of the daily fan activity. Women have 8% more Facebook friends on average than men, and spend more time on the site. (Aileen Lee, Why Women Rule The Internet, 2011).

I have been actively creating and sharing content and engaging in online conversations pertaining to social issues for the last 2-3 years. For instance, last year, when a self-proclaimed-pious girl remarked online, “If you wear revealing clothes and provoke men, you will bring harm upon yourself,” I shared my experiences of being harassed even though I was fully-covered, dismissing any link between dress and harassment. After seeing my Facebook post on ‘sexual harassment in stores,’ a newspaper editor suggested me to write a feature on gender-based violence. Today, I am part of this vibrant community of resilient women because of Funds for NGOs, an information-sharing website for NGOs.

Comments

Chinemu's picture

Great

Great work Monica09
I am glad your advocate started from Facebook. It shows how strong and interactive Web 2 is.
I am happy your reaching to a wider audience through a mere posting on Facebook.
Keep up the work and all the best in VOF.

Monica09's picture

Thank you!

Thank you dear Chinemu for your encouraging words! =]

EmmaKWin's picture

Monica09, Thank you for

Monica09,

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the potential of Web 2.0 to build community and promote important conversations. I am glad you can articulate specific ways the Internet can assist you in making your voice heard. I would like to know more about what you plan on doing with your web-enabled voice. What is the first thing you would do with these tools?

Good luck with the VOF process!

Monica09's picture

Thank you!

Dear Emma,

Thank you for reading my journal post and leaving a comment! =]

One of the things I would do with these tools is to launch an initiative that will allow people in my city to map gender-based violence.
These tools will also help me to connect with others and gain resources required to fulfill my other projects, mainly:
1) to publish an anthology of real-life stories of women who suffered violence; and
2) to launch a TV show on the issue of women in today's society.

How about you? What is the first thing you would do with these tools?

Best wishes,
Monica

EmmaKWin's picture

Monica, Thanks for explaining

Monica,

Thanks for explaining more specifically what you would do with the Web 2.0 tools. Those are all great and powerful ideas and ones that have been proven to work in other settings, so good luck! For your next VOF articles, consider adding that level of specificity to your arguments, it's usually details that really make words transition into action!

As for me, I think mapping both violence and resources is a really compelling use of the Internet, especially if it can be anonymous so that individuals don't feel as though they are putting themselves at risk if they tell their stories. I wonder what it would be like to have a program similar to Foursquare where people could "check in" to places where they feel uncomfortable, so that we could provide a holistic map of cities with varying levels of gender-based violence -- something like RED for homicide/rape and YELLOW for street harassment. In my city of New York, I think that sort of mapping would help women decide where to live, and on the other hand could help us decide areas to take back.

I can't wait to hear more of your ideas!

Best,
Emma

Monica09's picture

You're welcome!

Dear Emma,

Happy to explain! Thank you for believing in my ideas and considering them as powerful. I have included specific examples in the 3rd and last paragraphs, but I'd certainly add some more concrete, detailed ones in my upcoming articles.

The initiative that you mentioned is exactly the same as the one I am working on currently to bring into fruition in my city. I hope I am able to help the vulnerable women in my city.

As of now, I am planning to implement at least one of the ideas that I mentioned, by 2014. Your valuable advice helps me to take a step closer to achieving my goals.

Warm regards,
Monica

kpisinski's picture

great job

Really enjoyed your write-up! Great writing and discussion of the positive history and use of this technology.

Kim

Monica09's picture

Thank you!

Thank you for your encouraging words! =]

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