How the Web Changed my Life!
I walk into the cyber café, get to the attendant and purchase time. Sometimes, it is one hour, sometimes two or three… it depends on how full my wallet is that day. I search for a computer, put in my time code and begin to browse.
As a deer who pants for water, so am I thirsty for knowledge. So I keep searching. The time goes by so fast. Soon the bar showing my remaining time turns red, indicating that my time will soon be exhausted. Sometimes, I am even too busy to notice. I keep surfing the web until the computer rudely changes its face before me. It gets back to the page that says, “Insert time code”.
To access the web some more I have to spend some more. Unfortunately, I have no more money. I forlornly return home, fantasizing on what I could have done “if onlyI had more time”.
That was me when I depended on going to the cyber café in order to gain access to the web. It is me in the past but to many of my sisters out there, that is their present. This limited digital access plaguing several women is a foe to women’s empowerment.
My story changed when my husband got a computer for our home and a modem for internet access. Then, he was working in Equatorial Guinea while I lived in Cameroon. To ease communication between us, he got an internet connection for our home. This did not only bring life to my long distance marriage but it was a tree that bore fruits which I am still reaping till today.
I no longer had to be physically displaced to get online. I waved a happy 'bye bye' to cyber cafes. I could now do more and live my fantasies. It was during this abundance of digital time that I found World Pulse. I had just given birth to my chubby baby when the Voices of Our Future program was announced.
Sometimes, my baby sucked on my breast while I completed the writing assignments in the application process. When the results were published, I was one of the selected women. My joy knew no bounds.
From the VOF training program I got an opportunity from Sylvia Global Media Network to host my own show ONLINE! I was ecstatic!
That is how my show, “Precious Inspires” was born. I was passionate about broadcast journalism but I never knew that I could also follow this passion on the web. In each episode of my show, I highlight a major challenge women face and show them the way out. Working online enables me work with great flexibility.
To evade the noise of kids playing around me, I have had to go to the bathroom to do the audio versions of my show. My audience did not see my location, but they heard my voice and that of my guest inspiring them.
When I do my shows, I use Facebook to publicize them and the response I get is tremendous. Recently I did a show in which my guest and I talked about domestic violence, breast ironing and other issues affecting women. A few minutes after I posted a link to the show on Facebook, a former school mate who now resides in France called me. She said she just watched the video and narrated to me how her mother used hot stones to massage the breasts of her and her sister.
I told her, “Dear, your breasts were ironed.”
She did not know she had been a victim of a practice with far reaching consequences but through “Precious Inspires” she knew. This stopped a cycle that would have continued if this acquaintance of mine repeated the harmful act on her daughter. I feel fulfilled to know that I am changing lives through the web.
Having a computer with an internet connection in a society where access to the internet is so costly and unreliable is something I will be eternally grateful for.
When I write on the web, my pen speaks, raises awareness and makes a difference. It does not soliloquize, no! These are no longer streams of thought I share with friends and they marvel. No! Neither are they barely writings that my mother shares with her teacher colleagues and they wonder No! My pen speaks to the world!
With the web, my work place is in my bedroom, in my kitchen, in my living room, even in my bathroom! Yet I am able to reach people in various continents all at the same time.
Today, I run my own blog at preciouscore.blogspot.com. I write down my feelings, my experiences and share useful information and the world gets to read.
This is what digital access has done for me. It has given me a life. It has given me endless opportunities to unlock my potentials.
Sadly enough, there are many women that are yet to partake in this delicious meal. They want more access to the internet but they are not financially capable.
Besides, there are more illiterate women than men in my community. A 2013 report by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics reveals that female literacy rates are lower than male literacy rates in Sub-Saharan Africa(where Cameroon is found). How can a woman who cannot even spell her name find her way on a computer?
Worse still, some women are literate but computer illiterates and they are not bothered. They can read and write but they cannot type and browse the web.
Most women bear the burden of caring for their homes. They are busy from dawn to dusk. They barely get time to pamper themselves talk less of going online (which is still new to some of them).
Some have the will but their husbands will not let them. Some husbands restrict their wives from going to cyber cafes.
To be able to weave the web, women must first get out of the web that entangles them and prevents them from going online.
Let the illiterates take some classes, learn the alphabet, learn numbers, learn to write their own names.
Let the computer illiterates take local computer classes. It is not that hard. They should become ICT compliant and ICT competent.
Then if your husband is the type that tells you to sit in the kitchen making fufu instead of sitting in front of a computer and weaving the web, be the one to sensitize him. Let him know that a great woman is one who harnesses the power of technology to become better.
I call on internet service providers in Cameroon to all embark on campaigns to enable women gain more access to the web. Internet costs should be made cheaper for women. When women are empowered they will indeed change the world.
I strongly believe in the power of the audio-visual to challenge gender stereotypes and bring rapid change. That is why I will continue to run “Precious Inspires” on Youtube and on Blog Talk Radio.
My vision is to further tell the heartrending stories of Cameroonian women and women all over by making movies that move. I have for many years written potential movie scripts yet they are yet to see the light of day. One of such tells the story of a young motherless girl who defies the odds in her village and goes to school. With funding on my side, my idea will leave the paper and get to the big screen. Technology is a powerful tool and as long as I live I will use the different aspects of this blessing as instruments of revolution.
The web is so much a part of me now that I can no longer think of a life without being connected. I had questions, the web gave me answers.