THE GREAT POSITIVE IMPACT THAT COMES FROM WEB 2.0 & SOCIAL MEDIA
I am particularly interested and intrigued by how web and social media technology is shaping the global landscape today not just for private industries but for non-profit organizations, governments and movements all over the world. A decade ago, the most popular way of keeping abreast with what was happening in the world was through television, radio and the news agencies over the Internet. However, it’s amazing that different apps and social forums are now available that are transforming and changing the world we live in. Today, the common person on the street is actively getting involved and aware about the injustices that are happening not just in their community but in the world at large through social networking such as Facebook and twitter.
In fact, the world is beginning to get actively involved in what’s happening around them and using these platforms to let their voices heard, practicing their freedom of expression and speech and making an outcry against anything that they feel is a violation of human rights. Today, the world’s voice is heard more loudly, is no longer so silent and is creating a stir and calling to attention things that governments and organizations would otherwise not consider as important on the agenda list. Social Media and Web 2.0 has thus definitely empowered people and given a face to the world of internet. Web 2.0 is changing the world, bringing citizens together and building a new society. We are seeing societies changing and Web.2.0 and social media have been the driving force for this change. Social media has given a chance to debate, generate new ideas amongst different nationalities and all is happening over social media. Social media has also raised accountability for policies & statements from governments and government officials. Also social media allows people to celebrate different cultures, backgrounds and brings diversity and cultural awareness and tolerance.
I am especially intrigued as I am coming from a communications background, having worked in this industry for 9 years now, and have seen how the impact of Web.2.0 and social media technology is transforming the way most organizations and governments now send their message and cause across. For instance, I’ve been intrigued by the 100-minute testimony of a 22 year old Iranian girl giving a detailed account of the treatment of prisoners in Iran since the crackdown that began in 2011. It had more than 75,000 views and has been shared widely on social networks including Facebook and Twitter. It opened up discussion about abuse, torture and rape of protesters and fueled the campaign that got the UN to look into human rights abuses in Iran.
So where are we headed with the new found freedom and technology called social media? I think for women it’s imperative that we use this as a way of getting our voices heard out there. African women have for decades, longed for ways of receiving attention to matters that affect them the most with little priority on these issues. Web 2.0 gives a great platform for not only organizations but women, to share their views, sentiments and raise awareness around issues that affect them the most. The world is listening and looking through these forums. We can’t miss the opportunity to make an impact and get heard. For instance, incidences such as the recent displacement and sexual abuse and violence against women in Somali can be tackled through building awareness through social media forums and bringing awareness to such issues. Soon enough and eventually, our voices will be heard as women and will achieve the desired change that we seek not just for our families and communities but on a national level as well.
I for one plan to include these tools of Digital Media and Web 2.0 into all my communications work. Currently, I am working on communications materials for THPS (Tanzania Health and Promotions Sector) that focuses on training and teaching communities about HIV/Aids awareness with a special focus on Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission. This information can easily reach people now through forums such as Facebook and Twitter. This not only provides helpful information to those infected, especially women, but provides a forum where women can share their experiences and thoughts on the stigma around HIV/Aids. The organizations activities will also become known through digital technologies and forums such as YouTube. I also intend to implement these strategies in my future work for an annual report project for a non-profit called African Leadership Institute that focuses on promoting African leaders. The inspirational stories from women who have managed to climb the ladder of success should be easily accessible to young African women out there who are planning to impact their communities and grow in their careers. This will then become a source of motivation and inspiration!