Today, freedom of expression and equal access to knowledge and ideas has become synonymous with access to the Internet. As we witness on PulseWire every day, the Web has opened a new frontier for the free exchange of ideas, exposure to new markets, and global forums for building movements. Yet hundreds of thousands of people are excluded from participating—due to cost and infrastructure, threats to safety, government censorship, etc. World Pulse recently launched an action blogging campaign on the theme of Universal Internet Access—inviting women worldwide to share their personal testimonies on obstacles faced and risks taken in accessing the Internet to seek information, speak freely, and connect globally. We also want to hear about innovative ways women everywhere are utilizing the Internet to accelerate change in their personal lives, communities, and globally.
“[This issue] is about whether we live on a planet with one Internet, one global community, and a common body of knowledge that benefits and unites us all, or a fragmented planet in which access to information and opportunity is dependent on where you live and the whims of censors.”—Hillary Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State
World Pulse was built on the principle that every woman deserves the freedom and forum to speak for herself and build a global network of support. Over the last three years, we have witnessed an uprising of grassroots women leaders from 180 countries, harnessing the power of web 2.0 through our online community platform, PulseWire, to connect across borders and accelerate change.
In October 2010, World Pulse conducted a PulseWire community survey, soliciting insight on how women are utilizing our platform for personal and community empowerment, and how we can improve our technology to further facilitate their potential for success. In analyzing the results, the issue of access emerged as a key concern for our community, with cost, access to a computer or smart phone, consistent electricity, and censorship reported as main barriers to connecting online.
World Pulse will collect women's testimonies on access and leverage them to advocate for Universal Internet Access and Digital Freedom at the highest levels of policy-makers and International Human Rights bodies.
"The vision I have been carrying around for 20 years becomes a reality, after a year of connecting to the world through the Internet. I am now working to build ‘women only’ cyber cafés in Nigeria, as in the few cafés currently around, women don’t feel safe for fear of being attacked or molested."—Busayo Obisakin, Founder, Women Inspiration Development Center