Technology Amplifying Women’s Global Voices.
By Marisa Rivera.
Technology is one of the most powerful tools available for the empowerment of women of all walks of life and anywhere in the world. Living in the United States, we many times take for granted the access and availability of technology. All over the world, people have to travel by bus to the next town, or walk for miles just to get to an internet café.
Through the use of video, blogging, phones and internet, women’s voices are no longer silent. Women are able to use digital communications to create movements such as awareness of climate change, women’s land rights, freeing women from injustice, bringing to the forefront violence against women and even the movement to eliminate breast ironing rituals. Being able to use cell phones as SOS devices for emergency situations has been a vital point in detouring human trafficking.
I am a proud Board member of World Pulse, www.worldpulse.com. World Pulse is a non-profit organization dedicated to connecting and training women to become citizen journalists and teaching them to write stories through their own eyes.
A vivid example that comes to mind is the story of Neema Namadamu, a Congolese woman who wrote a story in 2012 about the brutal assault of her daughter by two soldiers on the DRC. According to the UN, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is considered the worst place in the world to be a woman. After her attack, she first took care of her wounded daughter, many questions came to mind. Should she seek revenge and punishment for these soldiers? Should she leave the country to seek safe haven someplace else? After thinking about it for a while, a thought dawned on Neema. These soldiers, who had committed this atrocity, are also her sons. They are the young men of DRC. She felt a sense of responsibility to her country and her community. Rather than letting her emotions of frustration and hate consume her, she chose love. She decided that if she wanted to create change, she must be that agent of change. “We are all one Democratic Republic of Congo, not independently of one another,” she said. This incident made it clear. “If I love them, they will feel love, and if I don’t, they may not. And if they love me, or more specifically, if they love my daughter, they would never think of harming her. These young men are brothers to my daughter, and she, their sister. I’m going to go meet those boys. I don’t want them to think I hate them. I want them to know that I think of them as my sons and that I love them.”
After Neema’s story was posted on the World Pulse sight, Neema was no longer isolated. She was connected with a powerful engine of women and men all over the world. She became a citizen journalist through World Pulse, traveled to the U.S. and spoke at the U.S. State Department, Clinton Global Initiative, and was interviewed by CNN. She was also invited to meet with U.S. Special Envoy to DRC. After returning to DRC, Neema established the Maman Shujaa Center meaning “Hero Women.” This center serves as a space for women in the South Kivu region of the DRC to express themselves, learn new skills, build movements, and have access to technology to be able to connect with the rest of the world. She has been invited to international human rights conferences, received funding to purchase computers for her center and is now admired and respected by her government counterparts.
As we move forward in achieving women’s equality and freedom, technology will continue to play a pivotal role in empowering women globally. Neema Namadamu’s story is just one of many all over the world and because of technology women’s movements are accelerating. In the past, women’s opinions were disregarded, they are now admired. Where before women’s voices were muted, they are now amplified.
Marisa Rivera is president of Mpowerment Works, a motivational speaker, executive coach and leadership and empowerment consultant. [email protected]
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