“THE WEB WE WANT” WHEN THE WOMEN WEAVE THE WEB
It was like we parted yesterday as we waved to each other in the crowd, my World Pulse sister Olutosin and myself. We were meeting face to face for the first time yet we were so familiar with each other and this is the power of web. The Social media powered by Nokia globally was held in Lagos, Nigeria. One of the program of the week was the "Web We Want" coordinated by the World Wide Web Foundation.
Women whose leadership and expertise are very relevant to shape the web we want were given the microphone, a floor and opportunity to raise their voices on what web they want, the features it will have and how they imagine the solutions to the challenges we face today. It was a women only panel although there were men among the audience and online to participate in the program.
Among the panelist were two world Pulse community members, Olutosin and myself to represent the World Pulse at this program. The web we want was targeted on discussion on ICT gender barriers. Gender barriers are real.
In Nigeria, one out of ten women has access to computer and internet. Five out these nine that has no access feels they should not bother themselves which means they need to be educated. There are also gaps regarding the way women participate in the core infrastructures of the web: for example Computer Engineering in Nigeria believes to be men’s profession. Even where there are women thinkers and makers of internet, their voices are rarely heard in the mainstream. The discussion at the Web We Want program was centered on these issues. Others in the panel was Legal manager of West Africa and Angola Microsoft, Policy Officer of CIPESA from Uganda, Executive Director of Media Right Agenda, Product development Manager of MainOne , curator and Founder of Blcompere Limited. There were several questions and answers in the course of the discussion on digital violence, digital protection, digital access, digital education and empowerment.
It was pointed out during the discussion that there were a lot of cyber bully and violence and the most affected were women and girls. This is because as women are not safe in the real world so also they are not safe in the web world. This is not the kind of web we want the panelist all agreed.
We want the kind of web that will allow women and girls to freely express themselves without fear or any intimidation. It is therefore pertinent that we will continue to raise our voices until women and girls are safe both in the real world and also in the virtual world.
However women and girls were advised that since we all know that social media is a public place whatever personal thing we cannot put on the bill board in the street should not be put on the social media to avoid in friction of our privacy and that women and girls should express themselves on the social media with dignity.
We, Olutosin and myself spoke at length on internet access, digital literacy and empowerment. We both told the story of what we were before meeting the world pulse, what we are now and what we have achieved in the last five years of being correspondents of world pulse and exposure to the internet. The several awards we have collected both home and abroad, our NGOs were registered and we have have helped several women facing one challenges or the other in our community.
I told them I have organized Empowerment workshops for about 330 women and girls, I have carried violence free campaigns to eight villages and I have helped several women facing domestic and sexual violence. All these I was able to achieve because of what World Pulse have invested in my life.
It was at this point that we mentioned the campaign going on at the world pulse community, ” Women Weave the Web” and encouraged everyone in the room to join the world pulse to access the campaign.
Immediately we finished the program four people came to me to collect the website of World Pulse and how they could join the community. I have seen two of them already in the community.
I also share my vision of “female only cybercafe and Library” as part of the solution to gender gap in the internet access in our country. Also that computers and modem should be made affordable in Nigeria to enhance people’s access to internet.
The program was so interesting and exciting that it did not finish until an hour behind the scheduled time. Women and girls access to internet is now the heart beat of the world .
Therefore the World Pulse campaign- Women Weave the Web is very timely and is going to be part of the solution needed to tackle women and girls internet access issues globally.
“ACCESS TO INTERNET IS ACCESS TO LIFE”