In the 1980s and 1990s, women’s organizations began forming global connections and networks, giving voice and visibility to issues faced by women throughout the world. Since this was before the proliferation of the World Wide Web, women’s organizing was centered around the UN World Conferences on Women and other large-scale meetings. These conferences helped foster solidarity between groups and provided an international forum for dialogue and a springboard for global women’s human rights activism. Today, Web 2.0 provides new ways to share information, speak, and effect change that, I believe, has the potential to be transformational for the future of women.
Here are some of the ways that Web 2.0 makes the future looks awesomely bright:
1. Web 2.0 provides new ways to share information: Throughout the history of women’s organizing, both sharing and receiving information has enabled women to create frameworks to understand and transform women’s struggles throughout the world. The circulation of knowledge itself has been instrumental source of power and catalyst for change. Of course, Web 2.0 increases women’s accessibility to information. From sharing activist resources to responding to calls to action, Web 2.0 increases women’s accessibility to a wealth of information.
2. Web 2.0 creates new spaces to speak and enables new ways of speaking: In spite of tremendous advances concerning the status of women worldwide, there are still issues that are continually rendered invisible, denied and/or minimized, or are simply “unspeakable.” Web 2.0 puts tools and technologies of power, if you will, in the hands of women. With spaces to blog, tweet, and map—anonymously, if need be—women are able to articulate their experiences and viewpoints and have them be heard.
3. Web 2.0 opens up new possibilities and creates change One way I have used Web 2.0 to create change is through my leadership in anti-violence organizing on campus. In response to the high rates of rape at my university, I made a website that provides resources and education on issues related to sexual violence. On the site, I created an online form that enables students to anonymously report instances of sexual assault, without having to go to the police and risk further trauma and victimization. Until detectives have the training and skills to work appropriately with sexual assault survivors, survivors need a space to report violence—if they so chose—that is safe, confidential, and non-judgmental. This online reporting gives women more agency when dealing with the aftermath of sexual violence.
The possibilities with Web 2.0 inspire me, as I see new ways of shifting power, creating change, and inching closer to a new world order…
"another world is not only possible, she is on her way. on a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." --arundhati roy
Take action! This post was submitted in response to Voices of Our Future Application: Empowerment and Web 2.0.