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MOVING FROM VICTIMS TO VICTORS, FROM GRASS TO GRACE: DIGITAL EMPOWERMENT FOR NIGERIAN WOMEN AND GIRLS

I remain a victim until the year 2009 when I felt that something was missing in my life and I took a bold step to change my destiny forever. What did I do? I bought a laptop with bank loan, wire my office with internet and started exploring the web. Other women in my office was looking at me as if I was insane, they kept saying; but this money you are spending on internet could be invested on something better that will benefit you and your family. I had a contrary opinion and that was to get connected to the world, to access resources from around the world to better my life, my family and the women in my community.
Therefore I took the bull by the horn to move from grass to grace, from victim to and take my destiny in my hand as I got myself connected to the world through the web. Immediately I got connected in 2009, the first opportunity that came was the Voice of Our Future Correspondent Program (VOF) organized by Worldpulse.
I went into it with full enthusiasm. Light was a serious problem in accessing internet in Nigeria, and so during the program I had to go to public cybercafé where they have standby generator because whenever light went off the internet in the office automatically goes off. The problem of the public cybercafé is also another serious problem because they are very few, always congested and taken over by the “yahoo boys” the boys that engage in internet scam. They are very wide, dangerous, fetish and women is always their target. Therefore whenever I had to go to the café, my husband had to follow me as my body guard throughout the time I had to spend there to protect me from being attacked by these boys. To own your personal modem for browsing is very costly and not affordable for an average civil servant in Nigeria. This discourage many especially the women from venture into accessing internet and so they are contented in being an illiterate as far as internet is concerned.
Despite the inadequacies and insecurities, I emerged as the winner of the Scholarship to attend Empowerment Training at the Empowerment Institute and Certification in NewYork, USA. At the Empowerment Institute, I learned a powerful and innovative social change program that I now bring to women throughout Nigeria in the hope of giving them a chance at a better life. This program is part of an International Initiative called IMAGINE. I am the Nigeria Program Manager of this initiative. You can see more of this on www.imagineprogram.net
In the last year of my access to internet, from 2009 to date I have achieved what I was not able to achieve in the forty-five (45) years of my life. These are my accomplishment to date:
• After the VOF program, I became the correspondent of worldpulse and I have written several articles in my journal which can be access through this link http://worldpulse.com/user/1463
• Through the training I received during the VOF program and additional training from the Global Press Institute online, I am now a journalist and a reporter. Several of my articles have been published by Global press Institute.
• Through the Empowerment Training I attended in NewYork, I was able to meet David and Gail, the founders of the Empowerment Institute and also the founders of Imagine Initiative who gave me the opportunity of being the Imagine program manager in Nigeria.
The vision to empower women and girls in my community that I have been carrying about for years not knowing how to make it happen became a reality during these few years. My NGO, Women inspiration development center, Ile-Ife, Nigeria was registered with help of Worldpulse board members and Empowerment Institute. www.womeninspirationce.wix.com/widcng
• The Center in collaboration with Imagine Initiative has organized workshops for about 430 women and girls on ‘Knowing their own truth’.
In Women Inspiration development Center we:
 We have helped 55 women and girls involved in domestic violence and sexual abuse.
 We have trained 30 homeless girls on vocations in which they are using now to take care of themselves and their families.
 We have conducted this same empowerment workshop for 16 women with disabilities in Lagos.
 We have led talks and enlightenment campaigns for over 600 women and girls in eight villages in our community, teaching them how to protect themselves from domestic and sexual violence.
 We have participated in the 16 Days of Activism in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 taking outreach programs against violence on women and girls to secondary schools in our community.
 We were able to secure a grant of $1000 from African Women Development Fund, Ghana in 2012 to organize “phone in” radio programs to enlighten our community on violence against women and girls.
 We have secured a grant from Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund (VGIF) to conduct Empowerment Workshops, Social Media Training and Vocational training in Local fabrics for 80 Street Girls in Nigeria.
 We have secured a grant from World Wide Web (Web We Want 25 Years of Action) to organize phone-in programs on radio for 26 weeks on awareness campaign of the usefulness of internet, how internet can better your life and the need of every women and girls to be part of the web
 We have taken this awareness campaigns to schools and villages in the community
Above all I now belong to network of women of more than 200,000 people around the world. This is power of weaving the web.
I have trained fifty-six women and girls on how to access the internet with my single laptop, some of them even joined worldpulse community but their problem is continuous access to internet for them to be able to participate well in the worldpulse community and other social media communities. The email address some of them opened during the time I was training them have been closed down because they were not using them as a result of lack of access to internet.
Hear the word of some of the women and girls I am working with:
“I know something is missing in my life by not accessing the internet but what do I do? I just have to continue like this until I am able to afford a lap-top and internet modem”
“so we can also become somebody big in life like you if we have access to internet, please help us” says Ronke a secondary school girl
“ I also want to have access to facebook and sending emails, you have to help us ma” says another girl” Iyabo” in another secondary school
How can I help Nigerian women and girls to move from victims to victors, from grass to grace and for them to be able to take their destiny into their hands?
This is bringing me back again to the vision to have ‘Females Only’ cybercafé in every state in Nigeria. The ‘female only’ cybercafé will provide a safe place for women to have access to the internet without fear of attack or being molested. There will always be instructor around to teach women coming to the café that have no knowledge of internet on some rudiment on accessing internet.
1. The café will be an internet training ground for the women.
2. Help them to be well informed of happening around the world
3. To raise their voices on issues that concern them and mount pressure on government or any quarter where the right of women are being trampled upon.
In Nigeria, one out of ten women has access to computer and internet. Digital Empowerment becomes germane for Nigerian women and girls and for this to happen “Cybercafe for Female only” is the answer.
Access to internet and Digital Empowerment makes me what I am today, therefore I want my sisters in Nigeria to also move from being victims to victors, from grass to grace and to take destiny in their hands as they weave the web.

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

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Comments

kkrompas's picture

In awe

I'm in awe of your story. Thank you for including the pictures, as well. You had to endure so much just to use the internet, which many of us take for granted. What threats and risks to your safety that you endured.

You have moved way past victim and into an amazing leader and voice for woman all over the world.

I'm wondering what made you decided to take such an important step? What were your thoughts and inspirations that led you to move beyond "victim", as you say?

Thank you for sharing this amazing testimony!

busayo's picture

Thank You!

Thank you so much for your response and encouragement. What was my driven force was the story of my life, I lost my father 26 years ago. My mother was 44 years old while I was 23 years old. It is our custom when you loose your husband, you will be passed on to your husband's brother. My mother already had seven children so I put my feet down that she was not going to be passed down to anybody especially the brother we were suspecting killed my father. So we were drove away from the family compound and we went ahead to rent a room where the eight of us were staying. It was my mother and I who trained my six siblings. I need not told you but it was so tough. I know many women are out there facing the kind intimidation and hardship my mother and I faced. Therefore I want help them, be there for them and encourage them that they can surmount their trials. This is my driven force!

Busayo Obisakin
Women inspiration Development center
Ile-Ife, Nigeria
busobisaki@yahoo.com
womeninspirationcenter@gmail.com
http://womeninspirationce.wix.com/widcng

kkrompas's picture

Wow, you have been such a

Wow, you have been such a survivor and a force of strength and empowerment for your family!
God Bless!

Kadidia's picture

Digital empowerment

Busayo,

Your story is like a fairy tale. Knowing what you want and doing what is necessary to reach your goal made you the person you are today: a leader. Women all over the world need more leaders like you for all of us to be heard. Thank you so much for sharing your story, your experience and your acievements with us on the worldpulse platform.
Keep the good work.

Kadidia Doumbia

busayo's picture

Yes! But true to the letter

Thank you so much Kadidia for your response and encouragement. Yes, my story is like a fairy tales but true to the letter. It was so tough but my driven force is the fact that the kind of intimidation and hardship my mother and I faced when my father died 26 years ago, I want to help other women, be there for them and encourage them that they can surmount their trails and travails.

Busayo Obisakin
Women inspiration Development center
Ile-Ife, Nigeria
busobisaki@yahoo.com
womeninspirationcenter@gmail.com
http://womeninspirationce.wix.com/widcng

Mary S's picture

Hi Busayo What an amazing

Hi Busayo

What an amazing story you have - the internet really has changed your life and you, and the women you are working with, have achieved so much since you first started using a computer!

It is disappointing to read that you are not able to go into an internet cafe on your own because it is not safe. As well as setting up women-only centres, are you or any other group trying to raise awareness of this issue with the owners of internet cafes to encourage them to make their cafes more friendly to women? They should warn and if necessary ban the customers who cause trouble. In the short term they may lose some business by doing this, but itn the longer term they may gain a lot of new customers (both male and female) if their cafe has a reputation for being a safe and welcoming place for everyone who treats other users with respect.

Mary

busayo's picture

Thank You!

Thanks Mary for your response. We have tried to appeal to cybercafé owners on several occasions on the issue of safety of women in their cafés. They will promise to do something and they will do nothing because they make so much money from the boys. They could be in the cybercafé for two days without going home

Busayo Obisakin

Busayo Obisakin
Women inspiration Development center
Ile-Ife, Nigeria
busobisaki@yahoo.com
womeninspirationcenter@gmail.com
http://womeninspirationce.wix.com/widcng

busayo's picture

Thank you!

Thanks Mary for your response. We have tried to appeal to cybercafé owners on several occasions on the issue of safety of women in their cafés. They will promise to do something and they will do nothing because they make so much money from the boys. They could be in the cybercafé for two days without going home

Busayo Obisakin
Women inspiration Development center
Ile-Ife, Nigeria
busobisaki@yahoo.com
womeninspirationcenter@gmail.com
http://womeninspirationce.wix.com/widcng

Mary S's picture

Hi Busayo At least you tried!

Hi Busayo

At least you tried! Maybe some day those boys are going to grow up, or the police will catch up with their bad behaviour!

Mary

Dani26's picture

Thank you for sharing your story

Hi Busayo

Wow, what an amazing life story you have shared with us. I am so grateful and humbled by what you have shared with us, and by what you have achieved. You show so much strength and determination in gaining access to the internet, and sharing what you have learnt with other women, especially your work against violence against women. It can't be easy to continue going to the cyber cafe with the security problems you have mentioned, so it is testament to your strength and commitment that you continue with this work. I think your idea of a women only cyber cafe is a good one - I wish you all the best in advocating for this - or even setting up one yourself! I've no doubt that you have the strength and determination to do so. I also especially love your phrase "from grass to grace" - you have a beautiful way with words. I also love the photos that you've shared with us. Sending you the very best of wishes.

busayo's picture

Thank you!

Thank you Dani for your words of encouragement, you have made my day. I wish too that the idea of Female only cybercafé is achieved, it will go a long way in helping Nigerian women and girls.

Love
Busayo

Busayo Obisakin
Women inspiration Development center
Ile-Ife, Nigeria
busobisaki@yahoo.com
womeninspirationcenter@gmail.com
http://womeninspirationce.wix.com/widcng

Julia O'Byrne's picture

What a great post!

Hi Busayo!

I read and commented on one of your posts back in February and it's great to be commenting again. I continue to be inspired by your story and your dedication to improving access to the internet for women and girls in Nigeria. I sincerely hope you (and others) are able to achieve female only cyber cafes in every state of Nigeria. It seems crucial. I love the quotes you included in your post from secondary school girls who are very eager to get online. At the very least you have opened their eyes to the possibilities out there and hopefully these girls will join the fight. It seems like they will!

Thank you for this great post, and I look forward to reading more.

Best wishes,
Julia

busayo's picture

Thank You!

Thank you Julia for being there. Your response and encouragement inspire me and moving me to do more. I really appreciate your kind words

Love
Busayo

Busayo Obisakin
Women inspiration Development center
Ile-Ife, Nigeria
busobisaki@yahoo.com
womeninspirationcenter@gmail.com
http://womeninspirationce.wix.com/widcng

judyannet's picture

Good job

Busayo,

So great to read and see the power of the internet in action especially at the community level. This is for sure what every community in Africa needs, somebody who sees a problem and who has the courage to step up and act on it. Seeing how that one major decision to purchase a computer and get connected to the internet has altered not only your life but also the life of countless other young girls and women is an inspiration, a challenge to those who are still waiting to act and proof that everything is possible.

Thank you so much for sharing this information with us. At a personal level, I feel the need to do more. I am a social media enthusiast and do a lot of things online by connecting community development actors. However I have been feeling a bit low just before I read your story but I am back to shape now. Thank you so much. I wish you the best and we can only hope that you will keep making this positive change and that you will share those stories with us.

judyannet

busayo's picture

Thank you!

Thank you so much for making my day with you wonderful response and encouragement. I am so glad to hear that you were feeling low before reading this post and that after reading it you are now feeling better. This is the power of virtual connection. Even though we have not seen each other nor touched each other, we can still feel each other through our connection on Internet. I will continue to be the advocate of internet access, it is access to life itself.
Thank you!

Regards
Busayo Obisakin

Busayo Obisakin
Women inspiration Development center
Ile-Ife, Nigeria
busobisaki@yahoo.com
womeninspirationcenter@gmail.com
http://womeninspirationce.wix.com/widcng

busayo's picture

Thank you!

Thank you so much for making my day with you wonderful response and encouragement. I am so glad to hear that you were feeling low before reading this post and that after reading it you are now feeling better. This is the power of virtual connection. Even though we have not seen each other nor touched each other, we can still feel each other through our connection on Internet. I will continue to be the advocate of internet access, it is access to life itself.
Thank you!

Regards
Busayo Obisakin

Busayo Obisakin
Women inspiration Development center
Ile-Ife, Nigeria
busobisaki@yahoo.com
womeninspirationcenter@gmail.com
http://womeninspirationce.wix.com/widcng

busayo's picture

Thank you!

Thank you so much for making my day with you wonderful response and encouragement. I am so glad to hear that you were feeling low before reading this post and that after reading it you are now feeling better. This is the power of virtual connection. Even though we have not seen each other nor touched each other, we can still feel each other through our connection on Internet. I will continue to be the advocate of internet access, it is access to life itself.
Thank you!

Regards
Busayo Obisakin

Busayo Obisakin
Women inspiration Development center
Ile-Ife, Nigeria
busobisaki@yahoo.com
womeninspirationcenter@gmail.com
http://womeninspirationce.wix.com/widcng

Jumi's picture

Well done, Busayo

Dear Busayo, you are doing such an amazing job. Eku ise o. Eku oro ilu wa o. What an inspiring story. Thank you for helping so many women to connect and use the Internet to better their lives. I hope those who have already received the training will get additional opportunities to continue to use the knowledge they've gained. I work with Change-A-Life Nigeria. We should make contact and see what opportunities there are for us to collaborate on some projects to further serve our communities. Once again, well done, sister.

busayo's picture

Thank you My Sister

Thank you so much my sister for your response and words of encouragement. E se mo dupe o, In any way you think we can colaborate please let me know and I will be so glad to work with you. A gbajo owo la fi n soya. A ni lati fowo sowo po to help our people.

Love
Busayo

Busayo Obisakin
Women inspiration Development center
Ile-Ife, Nigeria
busobisaki@yahoo.com
womeninspirationcenter@gmail.com
http://womeninspirationce.wix.com/widcng

PohChing's picture

inspiration

Your story can really inspire other women to also become vocal activist. Not only does your efforts help other fellow women.It is an achievment for yourself too.

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