"Keep quiet!" One of the elders shouted
"Why?" Obiageli asked
"Because in our culture and according to the traditions of our land, a woman is not allowed to speak in the midst of elders", one of the elders replied
Shocked from what she just heard, Obiageli composed herself and asked again "So, how do I defend myself if I am not allowed to speak?"
The elders simply laughed at her and said, “let us see who will listen to you!”.
Obiageli was tired of being asked to keep quiet. On several occasions, she has complained to the elders in her husband's village about the way she was being treated by her in-laws but no one did anything about it. Obiageli decided to share her problem and seek solution through a social media networking platform. Within an hour, she received 20 messages.
Social media allows people to create, share and exchange information, career interests, ideas, pictures and videos. Social media networking platforms have not only connected so many people, but also has enabled so many voices to be heard and has helped many women speak up against all forms of violence and abuse.
Social networking platforms have connected many girls and women with communities of advocates against violence. Many women who were unable to speak in the past about their horrible experiences are gradually opening up thanks to social media. Today, a woman in a remote village can tweet a message and it gets to reach millions of people around the world.
Speaking out about the importance of educating and empowering young girls and women with digital empowerment skills just like World Pulse is doing cannot be overemphasized. Women need to understand their rights and be able to access services that can help protect them from violence. With social media networking platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc., women can notify key support people and organizations if they are at risk of violence.
So many people get away with violence and abuse because their victims do not have sufficient evidence. It is heartwarming to know that many countries are gradually putting in place laws to help end violence against women and girls. Also various organizations are supporting projects to help end violence against women and protect the rights of girls and women. Indeed, many women are no longer afraid to speak up.
Access to mobile phone is very important and is very helpful in documenting evidence to all forms of violence against women both in public and private. Campaigns such as UNiTE to End Violence against Women are encouraging and helping to create more awareness on the need for people to take action against violence against girls and women. Activities such as “Hackathons” also aim to build technology solutions to prevent violence against women and girls, assist survivors and assist the agencies that work to support them. Daily, lots of women are fighting violence and abuse by simply using their phones and telling their story through social media networking platforms. Many survivors of violence today are ‘lucky” to be alive because an organization or an individual picked up their story through social media.
The internet and mobile technologies are also providing platforms to build technology solutions that can assist and aid survivors as well as prevent and end violence against women and girls. Women are encouraged to learn more about mobile technologies and the internet; not just for social networking or economic empowerment but also to understand that social media is a great tool for their voices to be heard all over the world no matter their location.
Using social networking media platforms, many women are connecting, informing and collecting evidence to end violence against women as well as increasing access to justice for survivors of domestic, sexual and all other forms of violence.
This post was submitted in response to Speaking Out for Change.