Women and girls in tens were coming in to Women Inspiration Development Center in other to receive training on how to use computer, access the internet, join a social network and be part of the web global conversations. This mass movement of women and girls into Women Inspiration Center was as a result of the 13 weeks of awareness campaign through Radio phone-in program on:- • What internet is all about, • Benefits of internet, • Your rights and responsibilities online, • Cyber bullies, • Protecting your privacy online, • How to avoid miscommunication on internet, • Basic skills in accessing internet, and • Government responsibilities in safe virtual world.
The “Radio Phone In” was sponsored by World Wide Web Foundation on Web 25 Year of Action small grant. The program was anchored by Busayo Obisakin; Founder of Women Inspiration Development Center. Women from all works of life were invited to participate in the discussions during the program. Some of these women were teachers, students, nurses, doctors, artisans, market women, literates, semi-literates and illiterates. Men were not also left out in the discussions as they phoned in to give their opinions on the benefits of internet and the fact that women must not be left behind when it comes to accessing the internet. Women, men, girls and boys from at least five states in Nigeria always phoned in to be part of our discussions every week of the program.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PROGRAM Sixty-five women and girls (average of five per week) were invited to the studio to participate in the program for 13 weeks. Five women and girls every week were always at the studio for discussions. Average of 10 people, men and women, phoned-in every week to be part of the program. This means about 130 people would have phoned-in to be part of the discussions for the 13 weeks. The discussions were in question and answer form. The facilitator, Busayo Obisakin would ask questions on the topic for discussions, the women in the studio would first make their contributions and then the studio phone would be open to listeners at home to make their own contributions and ask questions if they wanted to. The listeners at home would have been waiting for us every week before we commenced the program because immediately we opened the line to them, calls would be trouping in from them to be part of the discussions.
SOME THINGS THAT CAME OUT DURING THE DISCUSSIONS FOR THE 13 WEEKS: 1. That majority of the world’s population, especially women and girls, were excluded from the web global conversations. Some of the reasons for this as revealed during the discussions were: • Poverty: that is, many women and girls cannot afford paying for access to internet because many of them have no jobs and no means of livelihood. Access to internet is so expensive and not easy to come by in our part of the world. The discussants, both women and men, therefore were of the opinion that as more and more information are moving online, it is very germane that women and men have equal, safe and reliable access to computer and internet. That without this, women and girls will continue to be excluded from social and economic leadership opportunities. • Lack of education is another reason why most women and girls are not part of web global conversation. The discussants were of the opinion that to bridge the gap of gender inequality in access to internet, the effort to give women and girls formal education, computer and technological training must be intensified. A lot of women have mobile phones that can browse but they lack the education to access internet on their phones. The mobile phones ended up not being useful for them except to call their friends. • The discussants also pointed out that women and girls need a safe place where they can be accessing internet. They are not free to go to the few cybercafés around because the places are always full of boys and young men whose presence could be intimidating and harassing to them. If women and girls should have a “Female only cybercafé”, it will solve the issue of safety in accessing internet. • The discussants were also of the opinion that awareness campaign like the radio discussions should be coming up from time to time to create awareness for the women and girls on the need for their online empowerment. 2. That online empowerment can lead to offline empowerment for women and girls. The discussants after listening to the story of Busayo; The founder of Women Inspiration Development Center, unanimously agreed that it is imperative for all females to receive online empowerment. The internet could help women to achieve their goals, widen their knowledge, boost their income, get a job, start a new business and get virtual learning tools for victim of gender violence, early marriage and teenage pregnancies. 3. That women and girls should be encouraged to join a social media where they could access information and also raise their voices on whatever challenges that are facing them. They should be encouraged to join women communities online to be part of female discussions and opinions round the world. 4. That affordable internet should be brought to the door step of every home. This is because women are the one that take care of their family, they are always very busy and so to create time to go and visit a café always may be difficult for them. Therefore, if women could access internet right in their homes, it will help more women to be part of the global discussions.
OUTCOME OF THE CAMPAIGN IN OUR COMMUNITY Three weeks after the program started women and girls were coming in to Women Inspiration Center with the desire to learn how to access internet. By the time we finished the program after the 13 weeks, I already have 48 women that enrolled for computer and internet training at WIDC. The challenges we are having at this moment at the center is that: We have 48 women that want to receive training and want to be accessing internet, They are women that can neither afford to buy a computer nor modem to access internet, To train these women and for them to continue to access internet, we need at least five computers, modems and credit to access internet for a year and we need the service of two computer trainers, These women come to the center every week with the hope of starting their online empowerment, I was forced to start training them on my own two weeks ago with the only small laptop that I have, and Immediately I started doing this, more women started coming.
Five of these women have joined the worldpulse community but they have not joined the conversations fully because of our challenge of no computers and access to internet. More of the women were eager to join the community but were asked to wait since we are using only one computer and a modem. Nigerian women want to move from grass to grace, from being captives to becoming captors and they want to become entrepreneur having their own business. “ACCESS TO INTERNET IS ACCESS TO LIFE”