Digital Empowerment For Women
The Internet has opened up new opportunities for me and, as I said in my previous story, I have learnt a lot online. The amount of information available online from all over the world is growing at a constant pace, helpful as this information pulls users in many different directions and puts the onus on users to determine what has value. This gives users an enormous amount of power, and knowledge, as they get to determine what information is most valuable. I continually have to decide what information is most important to me as I pursue my personal and professional goals.
When I was a fresh graduate just out of university, where access to computers was minimal, I was hired by an Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) company that assumed that I knew a lot about ICTs. I was surrounded by jargon, acronyms and concepts that I had not heard of before. In the beginning, I would ask my colleagues what all of this meant, but this wasn’t the most productive way of learning. I had learned about the Internet in school, having done a bit of research for reports, and I knew there was useful information to be found online. So, I said to myself: “Why not try to find this information online!” And indeed, all the answers to my questions were there.
My colleagues could not have possibly given me as much knowledge as I found online. And, because of this experience, when I started teaching others about ICTs, I too simplified concepts because I knew how confusing it could be. I wanted others to know that learning about ICTs was not that hard and that all those technical terms have simple meanings. I think I shared with you previously that I have never attended an ICT class, and indeed I probably never will - the Internet is and has been my class.
The Internet has also been a networking tool. Through online interaction, I still meet people to this day who know me through a discussion group that I used to moderate five years back. These people saw my work online and became interested in knowing more about me and others were even inspired just by the interaction they had with me online. For my own inspiration, when I was younger, I used to subscribe to inspirational quotes that talked about life in general. These quotes were very motivational to me and helped me make serious decisions or encouraged me to take action in my life.
Online networking has also been instrumental in connecting me to every job I’ve had, after my first. I became Country Director of Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT) Uganda, my current position, through online interaction with somebody, who knew someone, who knew somebody else, who knew me. Now tell me how I could ever have found this connection if it was not for the power of the Internet.
I also launched a company with help from the Internet. In the beginning, I had very little information about how to even start a company – so for guidance about writing my profile and to finding out what type of company I needed to incorporate, I went online. To help me get started, I downloaded profile templates and read about similar companies. To this day, I still go online to find information about anything I would like to know in relation to my business and I am always learning something new.
I believe that online empowerment helps with offline empowerment, because once you have knowledge, you start to act on it and share it with others. The digital empowerment of women is critical in this day and age. Women cannot become fully realized global citizens and socio-economic participants without the Internet and, as women are the majority of the world’s population; we cannot afford to leave them behind. Women are the mothers of our nations, and empowering them, empowers a nation.