I am Jasmin from the Philippines and i'm passionate about women's empowerment. As a women living in the 21st century era, we are blessed to have an access to a wide range of digital tools and media. We are living in a digital age where everything can almost be done online. With just one click and you can do a lot of things over the internet, from shopping to learning something at your own convenience. We always say that time is gold and it's one of our precious commodity that every second of it is so precious so we need to manage it properly. In light of this the internet is one way of how we can manage our time because of it's accessibility, usability and relevance. You can really save time when by just going online you can find a pool of information and tools that would be time saving and relevant and up to date. But despite of the digital revolution, we are still facing major and great challenges that are affecting especially women all over the world. Freedom from digital access differ from country to country depending on their political, economic and religious background. Just for example women here in the Philippines are more liberated when it comes to online participation compared to women in the Arab world. Some countries have a very strict policy and restrictions in online participation that it hinders their voice to be fully heard in the international and global community. Other challenges would be the lack of utilities like electricity and facilities to engage women to go online. Some remote areas doesn't have electricity, equipments, and training for basic computer skills which hindering them from accessing the internet. Some of them haven't even heard of the term "internet". Others barriers would be their social, economic and religious orientation. Some women are restricted by their parents, husbands, and their policy itself from fully harnessing the internet due to dogmas. These are just some of the factors from the vast challenges that we women are facing in fully liberating the women in their participation online. From all of this challenges we are still hopeful and positive to move forward and address some of this issues and try to present solution that would help not just women but the community itself to participate more online. And one way of resolving this is having a community library where we can offer access to the internet. It would help the community to have a hub where we can conduct trainings, introduce equipment and engage people to participate and benefit from this tools. Having a local library would be more accessible for the community and they have high confidence that they can grow together since they belong to the same community where almost everyone knew already each one. It would also gain confidence and trust within the community because it would be within their community and people would not need to travel far and mingle with other strangers just to access the library. Here in the Philippines as i have mentioned we are more liberated in our participation online and we are thankful for that. It would be easy for us to access the internet with little barrier. But despite again of this freedom we are still facing problems and challenges. And from my observation, one barrier would be the proper training and education on how to productively engage women to use internet for their benefit. From my observation women sometimes are only interested with social medias and entertainment sites, while missing other precious tools on the internet where they can improve their life in light with education, economic empowerment and worthy causes. So i would probably encourage them with my online tools on how they can engage to participate more online productively. I will send them links that would be helpful for them to elevate their status of life and be more involve. I will also try as much as i can to let them know about worthy sites and post them on a blog and invite them to sign in and participate. I would also invite them for webminars, online tweetathon, and perhaps meet-up so i can intentionally discuss my causes and educate them on how to be involve and be a co advocate in these worthy causes. Freedom in using the internet doesn't mean that we have no limitations. We all have moral responsibilities on when, where, why and how we can use the internet for our empowerment. We already have regulations for cyber crimes and usage of internet policies which are being implemented to safeguard us from unwanted things over the internet. This policies were created to help us users to protect our privacy online and make sure that we are safe online. But again even if we have these laws it would be very helpful if we ourselves should be vigilant enough to protect ourselves online. As always prevention and proper education is better than cure especially when your online. As we always say "think before you click", which means you need to chose what to do online. We should be responsible enough to chose what is right from wrong and think about the impact that it would cause not just for the online community but for the individual as well. As always it would be helpful to apply the golden rule: "Do for others just what you want them to do for you. If you really do that, you may just find that your enemy will become your friend.” So protecting yourself only means be responsible for your own actions. Internet is a tool to make our life easy not to complicate our lives. For me internet is a powerful tool to help us be empowered and empower others especially women as well. But we have responsibilities along with it. It doesn't mean that if you have a freedom to have it all that you would take everything without thinking what are those things that you really need and would help you become a better individual. So it really is a matter of choice on how we can use the internet for our advantage not for our loss. But for us to achieve responsible internet use, we need mutual effort, not just from us users, but also from the manufactures of digital equipment, the online builders, and the policy makers. We must have a collective and responsible effort and policies to implement what is needed to be safe online.
The policy makers should be fair enough and more proactive in creating and implementing laws and policies for the benefit for both the companies and users as well. We should support campaigns which are beneficial to all and not bias for some.So in conclusion, we need to move forward hand in hand in using the internet for empowerment of not just women, but men as well for the benefit of the the whole community, country and the world as well. As the motto says: "United we stand, divided we fall". We need to be faithful, hopeful and courageous to empower ourselves to empower others too. That would be a great and humble purpose that we can do while here on earth. And the internet is just one of the many precious tool that we can fully harness for our empowerment and for others as well. And again empowerment means being accountable and responsible for our actions online. Women can fully achieve empowerment if we will conduct ourselves responsibly online and offline as well. For me the internet is one of the powerful tool to advance the social and economic status of women. We can fully utilize the internet to educate women and engage them to social and economic activity that would elevate their lives and promote gender equality. The internet is a medium to voice out issues concerning women and to push policies that would benefit women. The internet is social hub to gather women from all over the world and collectively work together to be empower and empower others too. As the saying goes, "no man is an island", thus we need one another to help build a strong and empowered online community that would empower others as well.WWW: Women Weave the Web