By chance? I thought so that day. I no longer believe it.
A few months back, I needed to join a network of people who are involved in leadership matters, whose lives are dedicated to noble causes and who are sharing their stories. I typed “leadership” and “development” on google and I was led to World Pulse. The home page was attractive, so I took a look. Usually when I discover something interesting on the Internet, I like to sleep over it and if the interest is still there the following days, then I go for it. This time, it did not take me more than ten minutes, I was signing up. I am really glad I did.
Having seen the advantages that being online provided to people around me in terms of communication, social networks, online shopping, etc, I felt that we were missing something in our communication strategy, even as we have been on radio and TV programmes on several occasions. Particularly, we needed to learn about what is happening in other places, how they are coping with challenges, etc. Applying to take the digital empowerment training was therefore an obvious step.
Not only do I want to continue the training, but I have started sharing about it with friends. I believe that we will make more progress on the field if we are exposed to similar knowledge and grow together in our skills. I look forward to increasing my ITC skills. By taking this training, I hope to learn from other contexts and to be an encouragement to the women in my area, i.e. help remove/reduce their fear so they will join the online community and widen their circle. So, two things I am interested in include showing the value of digital services by using the posts on World Pulse and the enrichment that diversity brings to our lives (the unknown should not be frightening, there are things happening in other parts of the world that we can very much learn from).
One challenge that stands out at this point is the issue of verbal abuse vs physical violence. “All of Africa in one” is the formula used by visitors to describe Cameroon. There is actually everything you find in Africa here: cultures, landscapes, religions, vegetations, animals, dances, climates, food, customs, languages, etc; if you visit any area of Cameroon, you can easily recognize something you will find somewhere else in Africa, including the savannah+sahara of West Africa in the greater north of Cameroon, the elephants and giraffes of Kenya in the North and South, the Bamileke of Cameroon are said to be cousins of the Ibo in Nigeria, the Kikuyu of Kenya, etc. This is true also for learning habits and conflict issues.
Many men have repeatedly complained that women’s tongue is a “deadly disease”, that women's use of their tongue to handle disagreements and conflicts is awful. Interestingly, those men recognize the different ways they have exercised power/authority abuse, using physical violence, money control and other methods to maltreat women, but they are increasingly presenting these as self-defense actions, stating that women’s verbal abuse (verbosity, insults, threats, etc) is more damaging. We have handled different cases of domestic and community injustice and discrimination, but this has been a tough one, especially because very few accept to give comprehensive accounts of a conflict situation. We are somehow limited in the impact we can have.
I will very much appreciate ideas and suggestions on how to resolve this. Did you face/are you facing anything similar? How are you managing?