As I stepped into the room, I looked to the right side and saw hands waving at me. It was Greengirl, Busayo and Nabiye-- my world pulse sisters! Wow, I was delighted, welcomed like a very important personality (VIP). Out of excitement, I tried hugging Busayo and Olanike together as they stand very close to each other. Suddenly Nabiye came over from other side of the table, held me and said “I have been longing to meet you Celine.” The four of us were filled with happiness, love and care for one another. I felt the bonding as if we are from the same mother. Oh, the power of World Pulse-- uniting and bringing women together through our voice. I thought to myself, ‘yeah, we are bonded because we break ethnic and geographic barriers, united by WP we proffer solutions to challenges facing global women.’

It was at Chelsea Hotel, Abuja a multi-stakeholders forum hosted by Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) in partnership with Federal Ministry of Communication Technology, Nigeria. The forum united diverse players-- policy makers, technology pioneers, civil society groups, campaigners (including the World Pulse community) and researchers who are interested in bringing more affordable Internet access to Nigeria. Our excitement and bonding attracted the attention of our host as Sonia and Emily from the A4AI came to meet us on our table.

The Forum started off with introduction of represented groups by Sonia Jorge, the Executive Director of A4AI. Sonia explained that after this forum, a wider network would be created for the campaign. Mrs. Omobola Johnson, the Minister for Communications Technology was present and she gave an opening speech. Among the groups represented was the Federal Ministry of Communications Technology, National Communications Commission, University Researchers, Network of Non-governmental Organizations, Interestingly, the World Pulse has the highest number of representatives. According to Nnenna Nwakanma-- the A4AI African Regional Coordinator, “…we are grateful to the team from the World Pulse. You ladies bridged up the gap of gender imbalance, which we might have experienced in this forum.”

It was revealed during the introduction that Nigeria is one of the countries on the top list of countries with large number of internet users. This is the case, despite the fact that 60 percentage of Nigerian population live on less than one dollar per day. The important role of internet in alleviating poverty, enhancing empowerment, knowledge and communications were reiterated. This explains why exploring the challenges and proffering solutions via the multi-stakeholders forum in Nigeria is very crucial.

During the panel discussion it was pointed out that heavy and incessant taxation by government, poor electricity supply, lack of awareness, illiteracy and language barriers, poor routing for internet hosting and unprofitable investing due to remote nature of many states of Nigeria were among the major challenges facing stakeholders in Nigeria. These challenges also constitute hindrances to accessible internet to women.

The group discussions offered opportunity for participants to find and recommend ways to make internet affordable and available to Nigerians. It was noted that Nigeria has existing policies guiding use of internet-- even though the policies are inadequate-- as well as a fund supporting government to discharge its responsibilities regarding provision of internet, but some of the policies and the fund are not made known to the public. This calls for awareness – raising as is done in some countries of west Africa. Details of the presentations can be found on www.a4ai.org

Good a thing that the World Pulse has joined in a network with Alliance for Affordable Internet for a campaign for affordable internet for Nigerians. I see this campaign as very important because affordability and accessibility to internet is gate-way for women’s development and emancipation from the shackles of poverty, stereotypical attitudes, patriarchy and backwardness holding women in the rural communities. I for one, I am a living testimony to how the internet empowers women, transform them to make impacts that create change in the world. To me women need internet access more than the men because empowerment has more multiplier effect with women. An empowered woman empowers her children, extended family members, her community and the whole world. Development can only be achieved if women are empowered to actively create changes on the ground.

Take action! This post was submitted in response to WWW: Women Weave the Web .

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Comments

Celine,

You are a VIP! Thank you so much for representing World Pulse, for representing all of us who share on World Pulse. I love that you are a voice standing up for internet access. I learned so much from your post about the specific challenges facing Nigeria as well as the opportunities! How wonderful that you were a part of such important discussions and could help to shape the future.

Very best wishes,

Kelly

Hi Kelly,

Thank you for confirming and promoting my VIP status. Here again I feel the power of belonging to the WP.

I am glad to be able to make it to Abuja for the Forum. Much thanks to A4AI, the WP staff and all of my WP sisters.

Very warm regards,

Celine

Hi Kelly,

Thank you for confirming and promoting my VIP status. Here again I feel the power of belonging to the WP.

I am glad to be able to make it to Abuja for the Forum. Much thanks to A4AI, the WP staff and all of my WP sisters.

Very warm regards,

Celine

I was very impressed with your story, especially to get a glimpse of the impact World Pulse members are having on internet access and technology. Empowered women empower more women!

Leslie Stoupas

Dear Celine,

The images here of the meeting of you World Pulse Sisters, and your descriptions of how you together have pressed for access to the internet for all women in your areas, lend such inspiration to us all. The power of your meeting, and the undoubtably powerful effect of your collective words at this conference, hold promise of real change. Every time that another woman gains the opportunity to add her voice through safe and increased access, we are all stronger and closer to the shift we are living to see take place.

With love in sisterhood, Tam