In my homeland, El Salvador, it is a crime for a woman to have an abortion, under ANY circumstance; whether she was raped, or if her life is in danger because of the pregnancy. Forensic vagina inspectors are hired by the government prosecutors to examine women who have been accused of having an abortion. One of two women will have survived intimate partner violence in their lifetime, and there is only one government subsidized shelter in the entire country. I could go on about the injustices that girls and women suffer in my country, but I would like to focus rather on what can be done about them. I think Web 2.0 and the tools described in the articles can be utilized to create effective strategies to counteract these problems faced by women.
It is not just about public education and raising awareness-it is about changing culture. El Salvador has a long history of patriarchy and male privilege. There have been push and pull factors, such as migration, that have slowly begun to create some shifts in culture, but it is not enough. I believe that Web 2.0 comes at an important juncture in our history as the Salvadoran government recently approved voting rights for Salvadorans living in the diaspora. It will be through web-based platforms that substantial amount of information will be processed. Many Salvadorans will form opinions and make decisions, some at the polling booth, based on what they read online. The potential for changing culture is exponentially greater if women learn how to use Web 2.0 and other tools to advocate and create change.
For me, these tools are empowering because they will allow me to reach a greater audience. Being bilingual has its benefits and by using Web 2.0 I can reach a wider audience, and not just in El Salvador, but throughout Central America as women in neighboring countries face the same challenges as we do. It will also allow me to create interactive exchanges whereby other women who are in the trenches can find a platform to have their voice heard. It will also help me connect with the youth of the region, especially since half the populations of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala are under age 18, and most are comfortable with navigating the web. By reaching youth we will also enlist boys and young men to create culture change.
Take action! This post was submitted in response to Voices of Our Future Application: Empowerment and Web 2.0.