DIGITAL LITERACY: EMANCIPATIONOF WOMEN AND GIRLS FROM MENTAL SLAVERY
Yes! Internet is an eye opener! Internet will be my saviour from this poverty! I am going to be great through internet, you wait and see! Oh internet will educate and really help me! These are the comments of Olakanye Mary, Adesokan Opeyemi andSareola victoria as I moved round rural secondary schools for the awareness campaign of the importance of internet in people’s life. After attending Abuja multi stakeholder forum on Alliance for Affordable Internet in Nigeria, I started digital awareness campaign among women and girls in my community because at the meeting it became pertinent that women and girls in the rural areas and even the ones at the slums of the cities should know the importance of their access to internet what it can do for them and the tools and training they will need to take advantage of internet even when it becomes affordable for them.
I started moving around asking questions like: Do you think you need internet? What can internet do for you? What are those things you think you need before you can tap the benefits of internet?
The answers I got to these questions varies, while some were of the opinion that internet is very useful and they need it so much, some even among the elites were still of the opinion that they were missing nothing by lack of access to internet and that they could just be like that forever. Out of five women and girls, four were still ignorant of the importance of internet in their lives which means there is serious need for this awareness campaigns in my part of the world.
There is need to let the women and girls know that internet is a powerful tool to raise their voices on issues that matters to them, powerful tool to learn innovations on how to free themselves from abject poverty, powerful tool to rid themselves of the cultures that have been tying their hands, prejudicing them and limiting them as a female gender and the powerful tool for their emancipation from mental slavery.
As I was moving round I was telling them my story. The fact that I came from a humble background like them, what I was before I had access to internet six years ago and what I am today and what I have achieved. These young girls will listen with awe to my story and when I finished my story I will look at them in the face and tell them that you can achieve more than I have achieved, it can work for you more than it has worked for me. They will just marveled and say really? And when I said yes, you need to see the hope that lit their faces and the comment like: Yes, internet is an eye opener, Internet will be my saviour, and internet will educate me, oh! Internet will really help me.
I brought the girls to town to visit a cybercafé so that they could see what a computer look like and to see some things on it, but unfortunately when we got to the cybercafé, there was no light and their generator at the café was bad so I ended up using my small laptop to show them some things on internet.
The questions now arises; But how do we get there? We can’t afford to have our personal computer, we can’t afford to buy mobile phones, we don’t have cybercafé in our community, the few ones in town we are so afraid to go there for the fear of the “Yahoo Boys”. Some of us have never seen computer before until today, even when we see computer we don’t know how to operate it. What are we going to do?
When they were asking these questions, I did not have an answer to them but I know the whole world as you are reading my journal and this post, you will help me to find answers to the questions of these girls. They are part of our world and they have the right to have access to digital literacy and access, they have the right to education and better life.
I am bringing us back again to the serious need of “Female only cybercafé” in Nigeria, a safe place where women and girls will have access to digital access, literacy and empowerment. This is the way you can help me to answer the question of these poor girls and women who are also very thirsty now to be part of the global village, they must not be left out, they must not be neglected and their voices also really matter to the development of this world.
Out of every 20 girls in the public schools, none had computer, none could operate computer only 2 had seen computer before, none had yahoo mail, none had facebook account and one had a mobile phone. The poor are becoming poorer while the richer are getting richer; violence against women and girls has become a normal phenomenon in my community. I have started this crusade of emancipation but I cannot do it all alone, all hand must be on deck to give women and girls in Nigeria the freedom we crave.
Out of every ten ritual killings, women and girls will be eight. Women and girls in Nigeria need a powerful network to minimize the work of the ritual killers and this can only be achieved through digital access, literacy and empowerment.
This is writing article to the digital awareness campaign but also a safe our soul appeal from Nigerian women and girls to the whole world. PLEASE SAFE OUR SOULS!!!