I am a woman with disability who has been transformed by technology and lifted up in my community. I was first introduced to technology through a computer course in the university then I created my first email. After creating my email, I was able to sign up to face book and from that time I developed unlimited passion to continue to empower myself and grow my digital skills. From that time I have experienced a kind of transformation that has enabled me to transform other people. Technology has improved my communication with all categories of disabilities, especially the deaf who face communication barrier at all levels in the communities. This has made life easier for me in socialization, working and networking.
Technology has transformed me to be a role model not just among women/girls with disabilities but ordinary women and girls as well. They look up to me as a mentor who has a lot to give out to them and I am doing my best to mentor. With my ability to use digital tools and the internet responsibly, I am able to stay safe online and teach other women and girls to stay safe too. Technology is giving me the opportunity to give back to my community and create change that helps to lift up the voices of women.
Though I have access technology to an extent, I feel it is not enough because it continue to evolve. Also, my fellow sisters with disabilities have very little or no access to technology and digital tool due to barriers that generate from stigma, marginalization and discrimination. This has caused them to have limited access to digital skills, afford the internet and experience GBV in local communities. For those who have basic ideas on online activities like the face book, they have faced some degree of online harassment that has scared them off the digital world. In contributing to help my fellow women benefit from using digital tools I have the following ideas put in place;
- I sensitize women, girls and communities on the importance for them to be digitally empowered.
- I identify women/girls and organize training on the responsible use of the internet, social media and ways to stay safe online
- I teach them how to download Apps to their android and smart phones which can be beneficial to their day to day living
- Women/girls with disabilities who have limited chances of having formal education and access to digital tool are linked to donors and people of goodwill who can donate these tools to them and I train them on usage
- Given the context of the sociopolitical crisis that my country is facing now, mobility is greatly restricted, there is high prevalence of GBV and I train women/girls to use their digital tools to report all cases of GBV that affects them or they come across.
- I teach them about online networking, E-Learning, E-Marketing, scholarships, conferences and fellowship program around the world.
As a woman with disabilities I faced numerous barriers to accessing technology beginning with stigma, marginalization and discrimination. Other women/girls face the same barriers regardless of their disability or not. Due to my level of income, I am unable to have the right digital tools and regularly afford the internet. Paying for skills acquisition is very expensive and most women especially women and girls with disabilities are left behind. They have serious challenges accessing technology and affording the internet. With the above ideas, my recommendations in addressing these barriers are;
- Let government and internet entity make internet affordable or free for women and girls with specific consideration to women and girls with disabilities
- Create opportunities that can support access to digital tools for women and girls
- Support women led initiatives that work for digital empowerment of women and girls in grass root communities and humanitarian context
It is due to technology that I came in contact with high profile women in CARE US and UN Women that gave me the opportunity to take my first trip on a flight to Addis Ababa and later on linked me to Geneva. I was also linked to a World Pulse Sister who gave me a recommendation to travel to Nairobi, Kenya. Opportunities I never believe I will ever access in my life time; technology made it happen just by one click. These opportunities have given me a close relationship with the UN Women and CARE US, making me to belong to the Friends of Gender Group of the UN Women and my voice is heard from my little corner in Bamenda, North West region, Cameroon.
Veronica Ngum Ndi
Woman with disability
World Pulse Ambassador