Women of the World: The Internet is Yours! (If You Can Access It)

Blogging sparks activism, but I’m under the firm belief that these are not forms of activism in and of itself. The people doing the activist work are working from the ground, quite literally. But I don’t want to undermine the value of technology, as it has been very helpful in successful activist movements. Take, for instance, the recent pro-democracy movement in Egypt and other Middle East countries, or the elections in Iran. The Internet (with the help of Facebook, Twitter and bloggers) provided an outlet for activists to voice their concerns and give first-hand accounts and updates of what was going on, even when the governments tried to shut down these portals.

Access to the Internet is an economic privilege. While almost everywhere is connected to the Internet, it certainly doesn’t mean everyone is able to use it. Especially in underdeveloped countries, the majority of people using the Internet are men, because in many of these countries families cannot afford computers at home or Internet connectivity. There are Internet cafés all around, but some countries have issues with power—it’s not reliable and goes off frequently. Also, women don’t always know how to use a computer [PDF].

Additionally, there are cultural norms that don’t allow women to access to computers. Women in underdeveloped or developing countries tend to be less educated than men, providing another barrier to computers and the Internet.

Internet access is not just an economic privilege; it also intersects with lack of education, lack of infrastructure, lack of foreign aid, cultural belief and, as articulated above, gender inequality. And the discrepancy between men and women accessing the Internet means that women often don’t have the opportunity to voice their opinions like men do.

However, women have found ways around cultural and economic blocks to Internet access. For example, there are many Internet cafés in underdeveloped countries that offer women-only hours. There are also places that have women-only Internet cafés and offer training to women. This is a great start. I want to highlight some examples:

Bottom line, more women need access to the Internet to get their voices heard–whether through activism and/or developing their own independence. How else do you suggest women gain more access to the Internet? Do you know of any organizations similar to the ones listed above helping and training women to use computers? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Reprinted with permission from Gender Across Borders. All rights reserved.

Photo of Afghan girls learning how to use computers by Flickr user Todd Huffman under license from Creative Commons 2.0

Comments

  1. Thank you for writing the blog post. Very insightful. However, I think there are various forms of activism. I also think digital activism is a valid form of activism. Let’s count all contributions in the activist community — on the ground, digital, etc.

    • Thanks for your comment, Ananda. Depends on how you interpret digital activism, but in my opinion, I don’t think that blogging is activism. Just because I write about something doesn’t mean it will change. Yes, blogging and the internet help to further activism, don’t get me wrong. But much of the work occurs offline–using online forums to reach more people about on-the-ground work.

      Activism is very important and the internet helps to move activism in a bigger and better direction, which is why I advocate for women having more access to the internet.

      • I have recently been looking into the detention of women activists in Iran as a result of their involvement in a Signature Campaign aimed at addressing inequality in Iran.

        The appeal for intervention came via Twitter – an international appeal via Change.org and Amnesty has been set up.

        Blogging /arm chair activism is not without its’ stresses – it is a form of online communication and education, and encounters opposition and resistance.

        Online networking has potential to inform, and to encourage dialogue and debate with parties we may not readily meet on the street- Whether or not it affects direct change – I think the answer is that it is part of a process..

        please sign and share
        http://www.change.org/petitions/iran-urgent-appea

        Thanks

        Cate

  2. NWOslave says:

    The supposed facts of this article are based on literally nothing. After going to about half of the site presented it was a huge pile of disinformation and misleading conclusions. Many of the articles referenced each other based on numbers pulled out of this air.

    Such as the site “the majority of people using the Internet are men,” which asked “X” number of people who were online at the time if they used the internet. All this means is a “site” was put up and whoever responded was included in the poll. It doesn’t have anything to do with the population as a whole. The “poll” could actuall consist of only 50 people who responded.

    Also on one of the sites stated “wikipedia” as a source of information as being useful. Wikipedia is simply people writing what they believe to be a “fact” and the most popular answers are inserted. Thats all Wikipedia is, it is the worst place to go for actual information. Literally, if a few million of us got together and wrote in the moon was made of blue swiss cheese, thats what it would say.

  3. Thanks for updating :)

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