Empowerment!

At the Asia Pacific Region Internet Development Dialogue (APRIDD) I attended last week one issue kept coming up – that of access. Some argued that should everyone have access because we say it would bring economic empowerment but what we see is that people just flock onto social sites. So maybe access shouldn’t be for everyone.

Tell me something! Does everyone who go to med school end up becoming a doctor? Does everyone who go to a book store buy books on how to put together a rocket? So just because someone is going to become a housewife after going to college or is going to pick up 50 Shades of Grey that means we should prevent their access to education and bookshops?

Internet Access is a human right now. Once I have access what I do with it is my choice. Same as the right to life is my right and what I do with that life is my choice. But let me make something even clearer. Economic activity is generated when you have social networks. Who do you sell to? How do you even know if something you have is needed by someone to the point you can make money off it? To do that you must be socially connected.

When I started using the Internet it was just for chatting with people (mIRC and AOL) or to send and receive emails. Then a time came when I was using it to help with homework. Then came videos and blogging. But I realized the things I had to say and the way I said them were appreciated. That I actually knew stuff. And when I was fired from my teaching job I turned to the Internet and started selling articles and blogposts and even some data entry stuff. All this led to Women’s Digital League, and here I am.

Did I start off thinking I was going to run a business? No! But was that option available to me when I needed it? Yes! But to get to this point I had to go through the whole process of learning to use the Internet and building social networks and understanding to some extent the options I had available to me.

But even if I never did any of the work I did using the Internet and I just sat home and watched funny cat videos or read latest Hollywood gossip that’s my choice.

And here is a local newspaper featuring me (without my consent or knowledge, though I am not complaining … yet) 😀

express-tribune-self-sufficiency

OK Byeeeeeeeeeeeee

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Chicken or Not

I am speaking at a panel on Frugal Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the UN Convention Center in Bangkok. The convention is jointly organised by UNESCAP and ISOC. In some of the pre-conference workshop conversations around gender someone pointed out how some of the panels were more MANALS – had only men on them. To this the hosts had a shocking (to me at least) revelation that two women had backed out and suggested male colleagues to replace them. The conversation that ensued was on why women feel less confident speaking on serious tech topics. Me being me couldn’t help jumping in.

Ladies, if the only reason why you declined the invitation to speak – you were afraid of making a fool of yourself – do you really think men always talk sense? Dear God NO! I have attended workshops and conferences and listened to ling speeches by men where I just cringed so much I gave myself a body-sprain. They were just embarrassing. Did it stop them? No! Why should it stop women then? I mean have you heard Trump? The guy is a front contender to the US Presidency and every time he speaks I feel so embarrassed for him.

So puhleaze, don’t let it stop you. Go up there and speak your heart out. Stop worrying about not knowing everything or even a lot. You know something. You have thoughts and opinions and certain angles why you are passionate about it. Speak about that. Forget if you are sticking a 100%% to it or not.

And honestly, do you think anyone is absolutely 100% qualified to speak on behalf of the rest of humanity and formulating policies for them? Trust me no one is. So what I am going to do is talk from the heart and articulate my views and ideas and learnings as well as I can. Some will find it useful, others not. Eh. Whatever. Hate me or love me, you can’t ignore me. And that’s my darling dudettes, is what matters most.

OK Byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee