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VOF Week1: (Lucy M)

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Women in Kenya remain a marginalized segment of the society yet they form majority of the population. This is largely due to the patriarchal society, retrogressive cultural practices and laws that continue to further women’s discrimination. As a result, women in Kenya continue to face domestic violence in their homes, various forms of sexual violence in their communities, exclusion in various leadership and decision making positions, and various other discriminative practices.

A case in point is female genital mutilation. Despite its criminalization by the Children’s Act of 2001, the practice is still rampant in many communities in Kenya and is often conducted in silence and under a shroud of secrecy. Misplaced beliefs in cultural customs and practices highly contribute to these barbaric traditional rites which result in the maiming or death of many girls. The excuse given is that it is a rite of passage aimed at preparing the girls for marriage. What many who practice do not know, is that the practice is related to many health problems that are facing their women and girls.

The traditional media such as newspapers have not been effective in sharing out information on issues relating to women as they are male dominated and mostly do not write on issues affecting women. In cases where these media have shared information on women's issues it has mostly been one way information with no feedback from communities affected by issues reported. This is why persons working to eradicate harmful practices such as female genital mutilation need to start thinking of using the new media and web 2.0. The new media can provide an opportunity for persons or communities working towards eradication of female genital mutilation in Kenya to form networks and communities with others around the world for the purposes of sharing knowledge on strategies they are using to eradicate the practice.

What is exciting about the new media is that it brings together persons who have a passion on a particular issue or intend to bring change on a particular issue. It provides instant exchange of information between people and it also creates a forum where friendships can be created. It is also a forum where a video or write - up on an issue that is seen to be controversial in a particular cultural setting can be posted and direct feedback and exchange of ideas can follow on the issue. It can provide a forum for even those opposed to the issue to give their opinions and the change agent can use the same forum to change people’s perception on the issue. The forum can also be used to sign a petition or form a strong network for the issue that being fronted. The opportunities which the new media provides are immense and could provide an avenue for many women rights defenders to being change in their countries.

Comments

source's picture

Lucy M

Hi Lucy,

You are right about traditional media being male dominated especially in Africa and not covering gender issues such as the female genital mutilation. I have however noticed that traditional media is still playing a role in Africa because not so many women have access to internet. It is also a well know fact that many bloggers today especially those without Journalistic experience depend on the traditional media to come up their stories.

I like your post because Web 2.0 tools can actually be used to bring out issues that are under reported by the traditional media. I hope for East Africa much has been done in creating content in Kiswahili in terms of audio, visual and text.

Best regards

Journalist, Blogger and Content Manager

lucy m's picture

Assignment

I agree, traditional media is playing a big role in africa because of its accessibility. At the moment, the radio is the most accessible form of media especially for local communities and at the moment in Kenya we have radio in english and swahili and in various local langugaes. But in most cases, most households normally have one radio and it is mostly in the hands of the man, who is the head of the household. Newspapers are also widely accessible and are available in english and swahili but are only limited to the literate or to those who have persons that can read for them. Newspapers are also very expensive and out of reach to the majority.

The new media on the other hand is out of reach to the local people especially those who practice female genital mutilation. This is because the use of computers and the internet is largely concentrated in the large cities.

The media in East Africa, or Kenya in general can be a tool to engage the urban population, policy makers, media, civil society and other interested parties in the international community to form a strong network against issues such as female genital mutilation and to exchange ideas on how the practice can be eliminated.

The traditional media and face to face interactions can then be used to assist communities change their practices.

meg.peterson's picture

Hi Lucy, Thank you for

Hi Lucy,

Thank you for sharing about issues in your region and your ideas about how to raise awareness in the community effected and around the world. I agree, that Web 2.0 is a wonderful resource to give women a voice. The need for dialogue is crucial and Web 2.0 can be the place for much needed discussion on important and controvercial issues, such as female genital mutilation. How has Web 2.0 been empowering for you? You mentioned above that Web 2.0 provides the opportunity to bring together people with similar passions- which is exactly what puslewire is providing for us and which empowers me. I am so grateful for this chance to be in contact with you and so many others, to hear your story and vision! I look forward to reading more of your assignments.

Cheers,
Megan

lucy m's picture

Thanks Megan

Thank you for your comments.

I am also glad for this chance to be in contact with you and many others for the purposes of sharing information on various issues. Thank you Pulsewire.

I agree Web 2.0 for me is especially useful for discussion on controversial issues. With constant discussion it can not only allow for exchange of information but change of attitudes, practices and policies.

Best Regards

Lucy.

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