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Digital Literacy

“I am the software, you guys are the hardware, and together we are changing the conversation all over the world” I said to an old acquaintance of mine, an engineer of course. You can just imagine how big his eyes were open when he asked: “Really? And how in the world are we supposed to be doing this?”

Every time I remember this episode, I can´t help giggling, because it took me two hours of discussion to make him understand that without us, the women of the world, none of the technological devices such as smart phones and computers, would be really effective, and they would not sell as well as they sell nowadays.

This is because women have made technology theirs. And the good news is that they have done it first, in the poorest countries. Bolivia is a living example of how the internet is changing women´s lives. Today, almost all women have a mobile phone, and at least 50% of women are connected in some way to the internet via cell phone.

I carried out a small survey to ask women what technology means to them. From 20 women of different backgrounds, the answers were diverse, but not divergent. With their own words they described how the internet had helped them find the right places, the right medicines, the right stores, and even the right company! I got the idea. For them, acquiring digital literacy, means acquiring freedom, it means becoming free.

Free from asking their husbands, or sons, or even daughters, about things that are on their minds, to improve their lives. Freedom. This is the blue bird they have caught, whenever they get digital literacy. It is a big step for them, for all of us.

Imagine now, how they are using their new freedom. My engineer friend did not understand that we are the software. He could not see it. I, instead, see it clearly. We get into the hardware they provide to us, and we become the software that runs in the hardware. We are what makes the world wide web, something meaningful. We use it to make our dreams possible. To make our communities better places for us. Safer places. And of course, we become, more and more every day, the rulers of our destinies.

The secret to this is simple, but not easy. We are learning how to read and write in the web, more than ever before because we need to use the skills. When we use our social networking literacy, we become empowered. When we interact with men in the web, they do not see our clothes, or faces, or even our physical disadvantages. So when we communicate in the web, they are only aware of our hearts, our souls, and this lowers the discrimination rates, because in the web we are really more equal. We can defend ourselves with words, and women have always been good at using words. We are now creating communities, instead of just places to interact. We are now forming families that get in touch, to decide which government policies are acceptable and which ones are not. And we make men feel awkward, or downright guilty, for being violent.

So, digital literacy is, all at once, shaping a better destiny and making us capable of realizing our dreams. We now have the means to forget about how much suffering we encounter, and instead, we are building networks that are making us free from all kinds of chains. Thank you engineers. Thank you hardware providers. We are now, working together.

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

Comments

Hello,

In deed there is no way the technological devises will be effective without the women of the world. I could not have stated this better. Contrary to expectations,women have an active part to play in technology and how effective it is. I am encouraged to hear that women in Bolivia have actually found this freedom that comes with digital literacy. It is indeed a good example to women in other places where digital literacy is yet to be fully realized.

I am also glad that you mention networking, since I work with a network of 26,000 plus young people that is purely online I understand too well how the power of networking can be harnessed. Women working together via the internet will indeed steer the community into a better future.

Here is to us the women of the world, let's keep weaving the web.

judyannet

jap21's picture

Hi Judyannet

Thank you for your comment. It makes me feel that we can keep working, and many women, from all over the world, will follow.

Love,

Jackie

Jacqueline Patiño FundActiva
Tarija - Bolivia
South America
www.jap21.wordpress.com

Thank you for your posting. I find your writing very compelling in talking about how those small things, like finding the right places, stores, medicines, etc. bring a real sense of freedom to women. That connection with other women who are sharing their experiences, and what has worked for them, helps each voice create a context that empowers and supports the development of new solutions and possibilities.

Thank you for your work in bringing awareness to women, through your survey, to how access to digital technology is shaping their lives and bringing that breath of freedom into how they are living every day. I also appreciate how you do not demonize men and instead look at the benefits of what they are contributing, and how women play an important role in taking what is available, and adding their own value.

Please continue to make your voice heard. Your assessment of how this is all coming together is quite insightful!

Bheki

jap21's picture

Hi Behki

It is a joy for my heart to see you got something from my writing. I always end up emotional when one of my pieces reaches people and makes them open new possibilities in their every day conversations.

Hugs,

Jackie

Jacqueline Patiño FundActiva
Tarija - Bolivia
South America
www.jap21.wordpress.com

Hello! Thank you so much for this wonderful post! You hit the nail on the head when you spoke of the internet as the great equalizer and the freedom a woman gains from digital empowerment. I love what you said "For them, acquiring digital literacy, means acquiring freedom, it means becoming free." That says it all! The ability to find the information she needs and to speak for herself (and you have done so articulately in this post) is life changing.

Please keep writing, keep posting, keep thinking "outside the box" (I absolutely loved your quote “I am the software, you guys are the hardware, and together we are changing the conversation all over the world”).

In love and peace,
Terry Mullins

jap21's picture

Hi Terry

Thank you so much for your appreciation. I wanted to provoke this kind of new thinking in all readers. My purpose is to make them realize that things cannot change if we do not do things differently, as Albert Einstein used to say.

Much love,

Jackie

Jacqueline Patiño FundActiva
Tarija - Bolivia
South America
www.jap21.wordpress.com

Terry Mullins's picture

So true, so true!

You are spot on!! Nothing changes if nothing changes. Keep provoking thought, Jacqueline!

jap21's picture

Thank you

You are so sweet with me! I love the new people I meet who really connect with me and my thinking.

Jacqueline Patiño FundActiva
Tarija - Bolivia
South America
www.jap21.wordpress.com

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