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VOF Week 1: (Acts of Courage - Web 2.0)

Connection, Visibility, Risk and Growth

These are what come to mind for me when I think of Web 2.0.

The connection lies in the possibilities of friendship, shared experiences and community. It is precious to me because I left my home country ten years ago, and moved to North America. Living in North America is an isolating experience for me. I miss the smells, the sounds and the warmth of the family and friends I grew up with. Although I am passionate about helping women, sometimes I feel a distance from my sisters here and long to work with the women from my home city in India in their struggles. But all this is slowly changing as I start using facebook, read blogs and join projects like PulseWire. I can connect with anyone, anywhere in the world at anytime. I can redefine what connection means to me!

However I must make myself visible to the world. Reading blogs and browsing websites is not what Web2.0 is about. Actively participating in dialogue, reaching out and organizing groups across differences or through similarities, commenting and promoting to our networks are all integral in using this social media technology. This is the part that I am not very good at. The choices one makes in presenting oneself a certain way can say a lot about us. What part of me do I choose to make visible and to what audience? This question has a less complex answer for communities than it has for the individual. Web 2.0 has helped issues and groups of people that were not silenced, disconnected, not visible to one another come out and be counted. Just think of how fast a petition for a socially just cause can gain momentum though blogs, twitter and facebook. Surely, this can only get better, and the vast majority of the women in the world who are still invisible on the worldwide web will soon gain in visibility.

I am probably one of the last to submit my assignment for Week 1. What am I afraid of risking? Writing is a risky act for me. It exposes my raw emotions, it renders my ideas vulnerable to the world, ready to be brought out and examined. For women struggling against global violence, misogyny, poor health outcomes, poverty and other evils, sharing themselves and their work involves a lot of trust in other women. Yet, we know that solely being a woman or a feminist or even someone who works for peace and social justice does not eliminate judgement from each of us. And thus every sharing comes with the risk of betrayal. Witness the deep divide in the feminist blogosphere in North America, for instance, between racialized women and white women.

And yet! Here I am, growing as I write... Challenging myself to finally let my voice speak through this medium... embracing web 2.0 for all it can offer me in my goal to fight gender-based violence.

Comments

Carole's picture

You are not alone

Dear Nsoumya,
We all have our fears despite some people looking so sure of themself.I can also admit that I really struggled. I was not very sure whether I was doing the right thing especially looking at all the entries of participants. But am learning it is always good to take a step at a time.And many atimes, those who fear most tend to come up with the best solutions to challenges we face each day.

Keep writing lady. Together we can overcome!!!

ShukThi's picture

We shall overcome!

Hello Carole,

I finally found the time (I just moved houses two weeks ago), the energy (I have been ill with a cough and cold) and the courage (this blogging is hard!) to reply to the lovely comments that people have left on my journal entries.

thank you for reaching out. It is amazing to me to witness how I have slowly gained confidence in writing more freely.

And one of my favourite songs that I heard a lot growing up goes "We shall overcome, we shall overcome, we shall overcome some day.." have you heard it? There are versions in Indian languages.. in Hindi and Bengali, among others! I always found it very inspiring.

So, yes, we shall overcome, indeed!

thanks for the support

Soumya

Rose Of Sharon's picture

Risk

Dear Nsoumya,

Once long ago when I was younger, I too was afraid to take risk's that could leave me vulernable. But, one day someone said something to me that made all the sense in the world, and it enabled me to take such risk's more freely. So I want to share this with you, in hopes that it will make it easier for you to take risk's too.

And it is this: "If we don't take risk's, we have nothing to gain. Without taking risks we can not win, grow, learn or be successful."

Life is all about taking risk's in order to gain the things we want to achieve. If we don't take those risks we will get no where. Do not be afraid to take risk's to attain success, taking risk's is something we must do to become a force to fight for those things we believe in.

More power to you my friend.

Love & Blessings,
Rose Of Sharon

ShukThi's picture

risky business!

Hello Rose of Sharon,

That's a very cool name, btw. I will check your journal out, see if you have posted the story behind your moniker!

Thank you for your support.

Apparently, there is new research coming out that human brains are wired with two primitive impulses. One is for attachment and security and keeps us close to family and people. Another is for exploration and curiosity and helps us take risks and grow outward. And we need both to be fully satisfied.

So I guess the trick is to find the balance!

For me, joining the Voices of the Future group was the first risk I took. And that has had a payoff. Truly participating in this process is an even bigger risk I am taking. I am eagerly finding that this has an even bigger payoff, and that's fine with me!

I apologize for taking so long to respond. I think my brain scurried towards security for a while there!

Soumya

busayo's picture

I can understand

Hello Nsoumya, I can understand your feelings but something about life is without taking risk we can not move forward because even the air you breathe in is a risk. I just want to encourage you to feel free to express your mind, if the enviroment you are is hostile to struggles like this you can hide your identity but definitely your voice is needed to achieve victory in this struggle.

Love
Busayo

Busayo Obisakin
Women inspiration Development center
Ile-Ife, Nigeria
busobisaki@yahoo.com
womeninspirationcenter@gmail.com
http://womeninspirationce.wix.com/widcng

ShukThi's picture

You are absolutely right!

Dear Busayo,

Thank you for taking the time to share these wise words with me.

Soumya

Dear nsoumya,
I understand what you meant to say. Actually now I am also in bangladesh so i can feel it. one day one of our teacher was planning to go to Dhaka at 10pm I asked her don't she feel afraid of guys she told me one day you will understand when the time will come. Finally after a month I had to go dhaka alone and had less Bangla knowledge but any how I have to go making friends in a train and talking with them. It was quite easy for me when i make new friends. Friends are so valuable for us and web 2.0 is a path which help to make friends from different community.

With Love and Regards
Sunita Basnet

ShukThi's picture

yup! friends are a good thing!

Hello Sunita

Thank you for taking the time to read my journal entry and commenting on it. I added you to my community of friends here at Pulse Wire. I hope your time in Bangladesh goes smoothly.

Soumya

Maria de Chirikof's picture

taking risks

I think that is one thing woman fear is risking ourselves and that is one reason I like this place. I write about very personal things and my fears too since I think it helps us to see that other woman do feel like this. The girls have noticed a change in me with me feeling more confident about myself since I feel I am really trying to help other woman. I know what isolation is like and want to help other woman break that feeling in themselves. We may not even realize we have become isolated until we read another woman talking about it and see similarities.

I had to be one of the first to post mine without reading the others because I know I lack self-confidence and would have felt way to intimidated after seeing so many others. It is good to read one where the opposite is felt since all woman are different and it helps other woman to see there is a big variety in our fears as well as our situations.

I also know what you mean a bit about the white feminists and the 'rest of us' since I was all eager after my first daughter was born to change the world for her and went to a feminist meeting that was all white woman. I never went back again since it felt a bit weird to me. But online we are all the same 'font' so it is our voices that are heard instead of how we look. It is a very positive thing that we can spread in our communities just by feeling more free.

Maria

ShukThi's picture

thanks

Dear Maria

Thank you for your insightful comment. Risk is what makes it all worthwhile, because with risk comes learning. I love how supportive your daughters sound. The sense of your tight family comes across in all your writing. That's very cool!

As for the isolation from our communities (of birth?), I sit in meetings full of feminist women and I sit through those meetings day after day. I live here now, and I have not yet figured out how to create a community for myself where I don't feel that distance and isolation, both personally and professionally. (Maybe there is no such thing.. just a dream of my youth...?) I do not mean to offend or come across as blaming or condescending when I talk about this distance. But when we talk about issues related to women or the state of the world, or culture or intimate partner violence, sometimes there is a huge gap between my understanding of these things and what is going on in the room. But because this is my job, and these are professional colleagues, or casual acquaintances,I cannot necessarily explain that I am missing something. Sometimes, I cannot even articulate to myself why the discussion felt weird. There are such strong underlying assumptions, seen from a white, middle-class, western perspective that the discord is hard to pinpoint without a lot of thought!

Anyway, I feel very good about rambling on when I am talking to you! Thanks!

Soumya

gillian's picture

It's true...It's challenging.

Web 2.0 engenders it's own brand of shyness! What will people think of what I say? What does my picture say about me? Am I compromising my own privacy? Who are these people, anyway? It's a leap of faith, with potential pitfalls. I admire your willingness to try it on. I, for one, thought your words were poignant and true. The more people embrace this challenge for the good, the more we can help shape it into a positive force.

ShukThi's picture

thanks

for reading my journal entry and commenting, gillian! We are practically neighbours, since you are in Oregon! And now we have connected online as well :-)

Soumya

Francie's picture

Risk

Wow, what a great piece. You are so right about the importance of risk and the internets power to break barriers among women worldwide. Your courage will give courage to others!

ShukThi's picture

risking and growing

Hello Francie,

Thank you for your kind words. I like the title of your journal, "Learning to Grow". Sometimes we just have to get out of our own way, huh?

It is interesting that although I tried to talk about connecting, becoming more visible, risking oneself and therefore growing, what struck readers most about the piece was the idea of risk. I wonder what that's about?

Soumya

Nusrat Ara's picture

It is same everywhere.

Dear Nsoumya,

You know when I was a kid I used to write a lot as I found it to be cathartic. After writing I would tear the paper into tiny bits. I too feared exposing myself not only to outer world but also my friends and parents. I have grown up and changed a lot too. I write and it gets published too but even today I sometimes write and the paper gets shredded. It helps. I guess we need to come out with our inner feelings that is part of the solution. Having said that I know it ain't so easy I have been trying to from so long. We need to break free.

You reminded me of my childhood and the dustbin full of shredded paper.

Keep writing

Love
Nusrat

Nusrat

ShukThi's picture

thanks, Nusrat!

I like that image. It is nice to know that the paper can be shredded. One of the things that makes me choose speaking to writing is my perception that the writing is somehow more permanent.

I enjoy your pieces on Kashmir. I grew up in the South of India, but visited Kashmir once when I was in my early teens. I have always felt very strongly about needing peace in that region. I always hated it when Indians sitting somewhere far away in their armchairs in Chennai would hold forth on their opinions about it. It still amazes me how little the average person cares about the human costs of war and government's political ambitions.

Soumya

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