ONLINE POWER, OFFLINE ABILITY AND GUTS
I believe online empowerment can lead to offline empowerment and to explain how, I would like to define empowerment first and then explain how one can achieve offline empowerment through online empowerment.
DEFINITION OF EMPOWERMENT:
Agreeing with Sandbrook and Halfani; Empowerment is a multi dimensional process involving the transformation of the economic, social, psychological, political and legal circumstances of the powerless. Therefore, online empowerment that leads to offline empowerment is the use of the World Wide Web (www) or the internet to bring about transformation of the economic, social, psychological, political and legal circumstances of the powerless.
Since the late 20th century, there have been various internet/online tools that increase the strength of the powerless who also apply it in diverse areas that may have nothing to do with World Wide Web. Tools like:
THE SOCIAL MEDIA:
Examples of the social media are Facebook, Twitter, Whatsap, Instagram, Blog, Online Social Groups and Organizations. In fact, through the social media, online activisms, campaigns, protests, journals and voices have been seen and known to give ability and guts to the powerless who no longer feels oppressed by members of the society, a sense of identity, social belonging and leadership relationships.
E-LEARNING (ELECTRONIC LEARNING):
Knowledge is power. E-learning is an online empowerment tool that enables peoples study from the comfort of their homes, offices, anywhere or anytime. From this online empowerment tool, new skills are learnt; certificates acquired, business and entrepreneurial ideas acquired, thus creating self employment, to mention but a few. Though as a matter of serious concern, the certificates acquired from e-learning, to a very large extent, are yet to be fully recognized in Nigeria.
In summary, I talked about e-learning which is the online educational tool of empowerment. But empowerment without financial support may be incomplete. Education and knowledge polishes and brushes up ones mentality, padding up ones sense of identity while the financial support aspect of empowerment helps to bring the ideas to fruition. All the ideas in the world without a means of execution can turn one into an African sculpture with big mouth but no voice (impact). People study online, get informed and trained, attend seminars, online campaigns, protests, online jobs and donation, etc. All these and many more constitute what I call complete online empowerment that leads to offline empowerment; where grassroot women are empowered and made powerful enough to fly with strong wings carrying along other powerless women till they are made strong. The “lines” (online and offline) of empowerment keep moving ahead; breaking down weaknesses, shyness, poverty, joblessness, marginalization, background relegation, illiteracy, career walls, cultural and religious hindrances, geographical limitations, sexual abuse, women trafficking, slavery, and many more ills surrounding and hindering women. Therefore, I strongly do believe that online empowerment can lead to offline empowerment.
Take action! This post was submitted in response to WWW: Women Weave the Web .