Digital Media and Women's Empowerment (1/3)

Grassroots women leaders, like you, are an untapped source of innovation and solutions that will provide the key to solving global problems. Yet far too often global decision-makers working to advance social change (i.e., donors, non-governmental organizations, businesses, traditional media, and policy makers) overlook your voice—and sometimes actually speak for you! Did you know, that:

  • Today women constitute 20.4% of the members of parliaments around the world - 1
  • Only 24% of the people talked about in the news are women - 2
  • Only 6% of stories highlight issues of gender equality or inequality - 3
  • Almost half (46%) of all news stories reinforce gender stereotypes - 4
  • On average female journalists earn 16% less than their male counterparts - 5

However, increasing access to communications technology, citizen journalism, and digital empowerment provides us with a historical opportunity to promote our voices, strengthen collaboration, and accelerate the exchange of working models for women’s empowerment and solutions to global challenges. A new generation of grassroots women leaders is emerging online. We want to connect with each other and our allies to share our experiences and bring our stories, needs and solutions to the forefront of global awareness.

Speaking our minds and sharing our visions does make a difference. Last year, Neema Namadamu from the Democratic Republic of Congo, started an initiative through World Pulse to "educated women to come together at a cyber café." The women who benefited from Neema's initiative named themselves The Maman Shujaa, which means Hero Women in Swahili. Together they started a petition for Peace in Congo through which has been signed by over 100 000 people. On January 29th 2013, the petition was hand delivered to the White House National Security Council leaders.

Nilima Raut, a 2010 Correspondent from Nepal, had her story of Chhaupadi, the ritual banishment of women during menstruation and after child birth, published by Women's News Network, which has a readership of over 320,000- including 480 UN agencies and affiliates, and non-governmental organizations.

2009 Voices of Our Future Correspondent Halima Rahman, from Sudan, wrote about her personal experience with female genital mutilation. Her story has been read by over 30,000 people on World Pulse, and was also published by the Women’s United Nations Report Network.

According to the Global Media Monitoring Project, when we (women) report and write the news, we are more likely to talk about women’s political participation and gender-based violence. We also feature women as news subjects and challenge gender stereotypes far more often than men. In other words, your stories do make a difference!

It is not just our written voices that make a difference. When you connect with other women and share your vision for social change and for the future, it is powerful. Last January, Tessie from Nigeria found a training opportunity in India, posted on World Pulse Resource Exchange by Nilima. The two women connected and Tessie traveled to India for the training.

In 2009, Voices of Our Future Correspondent Lindy Wafula connected with Araceli, another member on our online community. Lindy identified a need in her community for improved health care for women and girls. In 2010, Araceli, who is also a nurse, traveled to Kenya to help Lindy set up a mobile health education program, using mopeds to transport health workers to rural villages and reach out to women and girls.

Each of our voices is powerful. New media and Web 2.0 provide us with the tools that can help grow and support our visions and connect us with allies to bring about social change.

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1-Quota Project
2, 3, 4-Global Media Monitoring Report
5-International Federation of Journalists

Week 1 Classroom Navigation

Week One Learning Materials
Digital Media and Women's Empowerment (1/3)
An Introduction to Digital Media Concepts (2/3)
Opportunities Provided by Digital Media (3/3)

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