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Challenges the Nigerian Women face in accessing the web

In contemporary civilized Nigeria, the Internet has become a household name used in offices and at homes to access, receive and retrieve information. Many innovations in the world today are as a result of the exposure and access to the world of the internet and people all over the world can access any other parts of the world to receive information about anything that borders on their interest in life. Women in their quest for empowerment and societal recognition have adopted and accepted the web as an instrument for their advancement and empowerment. This is manifested in their previous two world conferences in Nairobi, 1985 and Beijing, 1995, where among several areas of concern, the role of the media in subordinating women featured prominently. But unfortunately, despite the much emphasis placed on the use of internet in Nigeria, women are often underrepresented in terms of access and use. It is against this background that I am writing on the challenges and prospects of internet utilization among women in Nigeria. These challenges include lack of infrastructure, education and skills; urban-bias; and sociocultural and economic challenges. To address these gender gaps in Nigeria, all hands must be on deck to change women’s attitudes towards internet use by overcoming technophobia; women should be provided with educational and economic empowerment; government policies and programs must address the needs of women; and the civil society should be part and parcel of this crusade for the betterment of women and the society at large. Let me focus for now on the economic challenges, I shall be looking at the other challenges in my next write-ups.

From my experience in working with women through my NGO, Initiative for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Children (IEVAWC), I see that Lack of financial resources is what hinders women to participate fully in the web. This is because almost all communication facilities cost money and majority of women are afflicted by poverty. Poverty is rooted in gender imbalances, which are in turn rooted in gender inequality dynamics that stem from issues which cut across race, religion, status, culture and geographical location among others. Thus in comparison to men, women are worst hit as a result of their very limited involvement in economic activities in relation to their male counterparts. Also as a women’s right activist, I realized that to achieve the right to communicate as a basic human right for women in Nigeria, women have to take on themselves the difficult task of gaining access to the necessary infrastructures that will enable them use the internet. This entails the provision of more infrastructures that will take care of the majority of women who reside in rural areas as well as making available the latest infrastructure for users’ needs. This means an understanding of the system of access and use of the web by majority of the people in the society. Similarly, women must be involved in the technical complexities of information technology in order to reflect gender issues. The Nigerian government and NGOs therefore, should work towards actively devising creative solutions to provide access to the internet. Access to communications and ICT through community access points should be looked into by government and NGOs. They should also look into concerns related to consumers’ ability to pay for services, particularly in rural and poor areas. Universal access policies aim at developing solutions that provide community access at affordable prices. New technologies have made these efforts promising and many developing countries are investing in such policies.

From the various campaigns going on in the internet and especially the World Pulse’s WWW campaign, it is obvious that women have embraced the internet as a way forward in their quest for empowerment. Notwithstanding, they are caught in a web of numerous challenges of which I have just highlighted one of them above. To wriggle out of these problems in Nigeria, affordable and accessible internet policy and programmes must address the needs of women. Similarly, using and benefitting from the web requires learning, training, affordable access to the technology, availability of information relevant to the user and a great amount of support for enabling environments. Solving internet problems and enhancing the position of women in access and utilization would indeed facilitate development in the various areas of women endeavours. In addition, sensitizing women’s organization and civil society in general to the gender impact of internet issues in Nigeria would yield greater dividends for women. There is an urgent need to improve the representatives of women in the use of the new technology to enhance their status. This will increase their visibility as women in the society as well as eliminate discriminative tendencies against them. Women in Nigeria need to be committed in the use and access to the web in order to demystify the general notion that internet is a field exclusively reserved for men. Furthermore, engendering ICT policies in Nigeria will secure the benefits of the information age for girls and women. This will make them reap the benefits of the information age. Finally, the Nigerian woman needs all the help she can get to free herself from the forces that subjugate her in the wider society and in the world of the web, which are powerful instruments for creating and reinforcing herself-image.

Reference- https://globaljournals.org/GJHSS_Volume13/7-Gender-and-Information.pdf.

This story was written for World Pulse’s Women Weave the Web Digital Action Campaign. Learn more »

Comments

kellyannaustin's picture

economic barriers

Nabiye,

Thank you for detailing the ways that the economic disempowerment of women more generally tends to lead to their exclusion or limited inclusion in the communication spheres created by the internet. Such an important point! It's interesting to think about how access to the internet could also create more economic opportunities for women. It's a chicken and the egg question too!

Thank you for your insights.

Kelly

Nabiye Tal's picture

You are right!

Yes you are right, access to the internet for women will really go a long way in empowering women. Thank you so much for encouraging me. I appreciate your kind words.

Nabiye Tal- Founder/CEO, IEVAWC.
@nabiye, @ievawc
+2348162536058
nabeetal@gmail.com

bitani's picture

Nice

Dear Nabiye,

Thank you for this piece on women's access to the internet in Nigeria. I like that you brought up something common between women worldwide when discussing the topic which is technophobia. Indeed, economical considerations are hindering women from accessing the web, but maybe privacy issues and safety are contributing as well to women's hesitancy from learning. would like to hear your input on this.

Structure wise, if I can send in a small advice, try breaking the long paragraphs into two because it will make it easier to read!

Keep up the great work,

Bayan

Nabiye Tal's picture

Thanks a million!!!

Thank you so much Bayan for your comments, i really appreciate it. You're right, privacy is really an issue when it comes to the web, especially for women. I will do a survey on what actually is the fear and then get stories from other women, their experiences. Thank you so much and i appreciate your suggestion, i will break so that it can be easier to read. Thanks a million dear.

Nabiye Tal- Founder/CEO, IEVAWC.
@nabiye, @ievawc
+2348162536058
nabeetal@gmail.com

Sarah Whitten-Grigsby's picture

Thank You, Nabiye --

Dear Nabiye,

You've done an excellent job of presenting the ways in which the Internet is crucial to the self-esteem, empowerment and equality of women, and the reasons why it is so much easier said than done to provide all women with Internet access. Poverty seems to be the greatest obstacle, second only to all the ways in which, as you so eloquently wrote, women are subjugated by men.

I appreciate not only all you've said here -- and the thorough, professional way in which you've presented it -- but also your profoundly meaningful work with your NGO, IEVAWC. Violence against women is tragic and against children, who are all the more defenseless, heartbreaking.

So, Nabiye, I bow to you for all that you have done, are doing and will continue to do to make life better for Nigerian women and children, and thus for the world.

May this piece be widely read and particularly by those who can provide support to you in your crucial efforts.

With Respect and Admiration,

Sarah

Nabiye Tal's picture

Thank you so Much!!!

Dear Sarah,
I really appreciate your words of encouragement, you have inspired me to do more. Thank you so much for the compliments and thumbs up. I am encouraged. Thanks.

Nabiye Tal- Founder/CEO, IEVAWC.
@nabiye, @ievawc
+2348162536058
nabeetal@gmail.com

Sarah Whitten-Grigsby's picture

You Deserve Praise!

. .. and may you get lots more, Nabiye!

- Sarah

binapatel33's picture

Nabiye

Hi Nabiye
Thank you for writing a wonderful article. I agree the gender gap and disparity is a major issue, and you probably see it more in Nigeria than we do here in the US. Nevertheless, do you find that women hold women back in your country? For example, do women hire more men than women to work in their organization? We, unfortunately face this issue frequently here in corporate America (Private companies). Nevertheless, women in federal government jobs are coming up quickly, which is a good sign that women are getting that opportunity. How do you see this issue- do private companies and the government of Nigeria hire more men than women? Or is it just the opposite?

I would love to hear your feedback on this topic.

Thanks and keep up the great work!
Bina

Kind Regards,
Bina Patel
hc Mediate, LLC
www.hcmediate.com

Nabiye Tal's picture

You are right on point!

Dear Bina,
you are right, we have this big challenge of women holding women back here. Its even worse when women say their fellow women are good for nothing and also disheartening to hear women say they don't hire women because they will complain of Menstrual pains or pregnancy or breastfeeding and so on. Its really an issue here and the last all women event i attended here in my country, it was an issue we talked about. We suggested and encouraged every woman who is in a position to hire to consider hiring women so as to empower them. Thanks for noting this, i appreciate all your kind words of encouragement to me. Cheers.

Nabiye Tal- Founder/CEO, IEVAWC.
@nabiye, @ievawc
+2348162536058
nabeetal@gmail.com

Julia O'Byrne's picture

I loved your post!

Hi Nabiye!
I am super impressed with your post (and with you! the organization you are the founder and CEO sounds awesome) because you address a difficult topic in such readable, practical and eloquent ways. I think your points - especially this one "Women in Nigeria need to be committed in the use and access to the web in order to demystify the general notion that internet is a field exclusively reserved for men." - make so much sense. While you provide a lot of great suggestions, it's also true that the simplest idea - more women just getting online - could make a huge difference. I also liked your point about needing civil society and women's organizations to pick up on how the internet is gendered and how it's important that Nigerian women are able to have more of a presence online. I've read other posts on World Pulse from women in Nigeria who have discussed the safety concerns that exist in just getting online. Your post was a great complement to theirs because it illuminated another aspect of the struggle to increase internet access for women. I've read a lot about how poverty disproportionately affects women and the negative effects poverty has on women's lives but I've never thought about women's poverty hindering women precisely because it diminishes their ability to gain access to the internet. That's a really important point which, thanks to you, I am very glad to now think about and reflect on.

Thanks so much for sharing all your ideas. I am looking forward to reading your next post on other challenges women face!
Best wishes,
Julia

Nabiye Tal's picture

Smiles

Thank you so much Julia, i appreciate your kind and encouraging words. I am also glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks a million for your support. Cheers

Nabiye Tal- Founder/CEO, IEVAWC.
@nabiye, @ievawc
+2348162536058
nabeetal@gmail.com

Kit's picture

Wonderful essay!!

Dear Nabiye,

Your essay is wonderfully written and clearly explains why women in Nigeria do not have internet access and why internet access is needed to strengthen women's voices and participation. I don't think there is anything I can add to what Julia has written already in her response. You have begun important conversations that I hope will lead to the action of more Nigerian women having access to online media.

with kindness,
Kathy

Kit's picture

Wonderful essay!!

Dear Nabiye,

Your essay is wonderfully written and clearly explains why women in Nigeria do not have internet access and why internet access is needed to strengthen women's voices and participation. I don't think there is anything I can add to what Julia has written already in her response. You have begun important conversations that I hope will lead to the action of more Nigerian women having access to online media.

with kindness,
Kit

Nabiye Tal's picture

Many Thanks

Dear Kit,
That's it, there's alot of work to be done to get more women and girls online. Thanks for your kind words and encouragement.

Nabiye Tal- Founder/CEO, IEVAWC.
@nabiye, @ievawc
+2348162536058
nabeetal@gmail.com

Shilpa Balakrishnan's picture

Great work...!

It is sad to here that in Nigeria,women face these much problems. And you are right poverty is the root cause of everything. Here also,women who are not self employed suffer same problem. Thank you for sharing.
Great work... Expecting more write-ups...
Love
Shilpa

Nabiye Tal's picture

Thanks

Thank you Shilpa,
i really appreciate your kinds words of encouragement.

Nabiye Tal- Founder/CEO, IEVAWC.
@nabiye, @ievawc
+2348162536058
nabeetal@gmail.com

boughnea's picture

Amazing work and writing!

I am moved by how fully you laid it all down in writing. I love writing and I love reading the words of an intelligent, insightful person who is gifted enough to articulate the fullness of a message. Thank you! Keep writing and keep up your work. Sometimes you may feel that no one is listening, or that no one needs to hear your words or your opinions, but because of your gift for articulating, you must keep this up. Many people are able to feel, but not say what they know or what is bothering them etc - then when they see it or hear it from someone, they realize - aha, that's what I'm trying to say too! and it builds and it's a great thing.

I thought the basic truth in this statement "to achieve the right to communicate as a basic human right" was AWESOME. how simple it is to assume this is a truth known and acknowledged! It so clearly is not, if if was there would not be violence against women that try to exercise this very basic right, and fear in even thinking about it.

The power of knowledge... the power of realizing that a thing is for you. Women have the right to information, communication and POWER. I get so fired up just thinking about all of those women out there in the world that have something so great to offer. I look forward to their work, and yours as well.

You're great, keep writing, keep fighting. I can't wait to see what your NGO will do!

-Amanda

Nabiye Tal's picture

Many Thanks

Wow!!! Thank you so much Amanda, i appreciate your compliments, i am highly encouraged. We shall continue to inspire and encourage more women and girls to be open and believe in their gifts and potentials. Thank you so much!

Nabiye Tal- Founder/CEO, IEVAWC.
@nabiye, @ievawc
+2348162536058
nabeetal@gmail.com

RosemaryC's picture

Dear Nabiye: I enjoyed

Dear Nabiye:
I enjoyed reading your article.
Your comments about lack of resources being a barrier to women when it comes to internet use got me started wondering about solutions.
It used to be that telecommunications also was a huge problem, both in terms of cost and access. Then mobile phones changed that - even for those for whom resources were problematic. Grameen supported women in small communities in buying a mobile phone as the nucleus for the business of selling calls to local people who didn't have their own phones. Then someone developed drive-by wifi, so motorbikes can drive by and 'pick up' email from places that don't have full time internet access.
So I began wondering about women-run internet cafes, or adding internet access into economic development projects funded by government or development agencies. Obviously this doesn't help women who live in isolated areas. But in this era, and given women's creativity, there must be some innovative ideas out there to help address the lack of resources without necessarily waiting for government to do it.
Can we brainstorm?
Best regards,
Rosemary

Nabiye Tal's picture

Sure we can!

Dear Rosemary,
Wow, it is really wonderful ideas you've got and great points you've highlighted above. yes we can brainstorm on this and lets see what we can come up with. i will also look into the real issue here in my community to see what we can start with. i really appreciate your thoughts. Regards.

Nabiye Tal- Founder/CEO, IEVAWC.
@nabiye, @ievawc
+2348162536058
nabeetal@gmail.com

RosemaryC's picture

Have a look at inetmom's posts

Dear Nabiye:
You might want to have a look at inetmom's posts. She lives in a remote rural area in the US, which experiences challenges that are not so different from the ones you described. I was really struck by her comments that 'technology must come AFTER people develop the need or awareness for its use" and that communities 'must help women find a reason to use the computer".
Her post is at http://worldpulse.com/node/85444
Best wishes,
Rosemary

Nabiye Tal's picture

Thanks a Million

Oh thank you so much, i will read her post and also connect with her. I appreciate you. Blessings.

Nabiye Tal- Founder/CEO, IEVAWC.
@nabiye, @ievawc
+2348162536058
nabeetal@gmail.com

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