Every Woman's Battle.
“Say you are one of them” is a book that I read few years ago. The book is a collection of many short stories that highlight the battles that women face in the streets of Nairobi Kenya. As a selection of the Oprah Book Club, the book sold millions of copies and spearheaded a global movement of women and men that realized that the whole world is connected. The character of “Maisha” (a Swahili word which means life) is a young girl who was born and brought up in the streets and clearly outlines what I like to call “every woman’s battle”. Her struggles beautifully paint out the proactive power of an African girl who decides to work with her hands to change the trajectory of their street family. She suffered in the hands of unjust individuals yet she managed to shield her siblings from a future filled with poverty and suffering. You see, many individuals in this world have not woken up to the reality that you cannot live your life reactively. As long as it is “their” problem then the responsibility is shifted to “them”. The truth of the matter is that “they” is “us” and it’s just a matter of time before “their” problems catch up with us.
As an African woman I realized that the task ahead of me is humongous. It’s even harder when I come face to face with a situation where I deal with individuals that seem to be unconscious about the reality of the issues that women and girls face at grassroot level. I find myself almost embattled in a never ending struggle with individuals that purport to speak for us in Africa yet some have never even been to Africa. With every small step I take, I find more obstacles. A consistent obstacle that I often find recurring in my path is in tackling strategies that completely keep Africa behind. I have always heard Oprah Winfrey confess that her journey towards the Oprah Winfrey show started when she realized that “bad news” was the only news that would make headline news. In her own words she said “I sat at the news desk and realized that every headline news item had to be “bad news” to catch the viewer’s attention. Why do people enjoy bad news? Is this not one of the leading causes of depression?
Unfortunately, developing countries have been the casualties of making “bad” headline news globally. 23 years ago in my community 71 girls were raped and killed in a night. This news item was reported by almost every global media house. Unfortunately, my sibling was a survivor of that terrible incident. Even today, she still struggles to find calm because she escaped narrowly and lost her friends in that incident. My question for the women of the world is this; “Are you one of them” We face a battle that will require sometimes everything we have. In a world dominated by poor strategic planners, availing the internet for the women of the world is a challenge. I witnessed that the bestselling story of Africa is a sad one when my sibling’s story of survival was reported with focus on only rape and murder and not the survivors. It is very sad that even some of the journalists that wrote the story of my village won Pulitzer awards yet my own sibling has to live with that story of her life without a good ending. I have to live with it too. Even though I was a little girl when it happened, it was also my pain, our family’s pain to bear.
I am determined to continue to be part of the women that will ensure that the solutions made for the women of Africa focus on including them in technology and access to the internet. The time for the African woman’s issues to be tackled without technology is gone. We are behind even in the developing countries access to the internet statistics. I know that every continent is different; therefore I will continue to raise my voice for Africa as a subject matter expert. I am glad to be part of the trailblazers in a journey that will ensure that the world can embrace a story of hope, development and proactivity from the continent of Africa. If we had the internet when 71 girls were raped and killed in one night, my entire village would have let the whole world know our side of the story! We could have started a social media group for give survivors a platform and a working group for emotional wellness. The internet would have enabled us to use crowdsourcing to keep our story balance and the negative would have been depleted by positive reports. We would have discredited the inconsistencies that were reported to exaggerate the “bad story” about Africa online. We could have started another #BringBackOurGirls Campaign and prevented institution rape and murder of adolescent girls.
I know that the internet will not find it’s way to my village overnight, but I am confident that our iVillage Girl Hub will be kissed by heaven one of this fine days and we shall have the internet. We shall make small steps and ensure that we avoid getting distracted or derailed by anything that wastes our time. Our journey will have some days when we shall feel the weight of the world on our shoulders, but if our lives will amount to anything we have to be ready to go the extra mile. Recently, we participated in a challenge that would have given us a chance to solve the issue of insecurity in Africa by implementing a solution that would give rural women access to the internet. The outcome lead us to understand that we have to press on. I received hundreds of emails on social media most of which were an outcry from women and girls. They wondered why the outcome did not include solutions that would move African women towards innovation and access to the internet. We look forward to brighter days ahead and for every door that we find closed ahead of us, we quickly regroup and take it as a necessary redirection that will lead us to our open door. I implore the women of our world to keep on in the struggle towards availing the internet for every woman in the world. It is through the internet that our team will manage to avail a distress safety manual for women in the entire continent of Africa. I had promised to keep our followers posted on our progress so I am attaching our current status on the attached documents below.
To say that I do not know you would be a lie,
I know you because I see a portion of myself in your life.
To act like I do not care, is to act like I am not alive,
I am alive so I care.
To act like I cannot see you is to act like my eyes are blind,
Yet even if I am blind, my heart can feel your presence from your voice.
To act like I cannot speak for you is to act like my lips are dumb
Yet even though I could be dumb my heart whispers your name.
Say you are one of them,
Say you are one of us,
We are the women who weave the web,
Our voices rise in the midst of every noise!
Support Technology Through Internet Access and innovation to #BringBackOurGirls
Please Click this link to access the story of my community on New York Times Archives