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

 

 

DDSS – Different Day, Same SUPER-AWESOMENESS

I hate how Facebook keeps tempting me to say something. That little white bar pretends to be interested in what I am thinking, who I am with, what I am eating. Like an annoying 12 year old who wants to shadow everything you do.

Wow! I am random, ain’t I?

My mind is cluttered with a lot of rubbish these days. On top is WDL, as usual. Not that WDL is rubbish. NOT AT ALL. I mean I have questions and people who will gladly answer the questions but am just not sure I am ready to hear them … just yet. Going in a slightly new direction with it. Have included capacity building to the things we do. Have always been slightly averse to the term. Have you noticed how many people throw that at you … “capacity building”, “skill development” ? It all sounds like a fraud. Maybe because it usually is. I mean what’s the point of skill building if you are not going to follow up on it and actually help people realize how that new skill they have learned from attending your workshop is useful to them? If there is no economic activity generated around it it’s pretty useless IMO.

Millions of dollars are coming into Pakistan and being used for teaching people to fish. But if they live in a desert? How good is that fishing workshop to them? Why would a person who barely gets 2 meals a day send one of his/her 10 kids to your school? What value is there is learning about plateaus and names of planets when what they really need is the 3 Rs (reading, writing, arithmetic) and special lessons in farming, fixing machinery, handicrafts, computers even to start earning even while they are in school? Do I sound bourgeois? I really hope I don’t because that’s not my intention.

Look, I am going to women who already have college degrees and am teaching them to harness the power of the Internet to become economically independent. I thought I would just show them how to use Elance and oDesk and then let them see what a wonderland it all is. But I very quickly realized not every one is cut out for data entry or SEO. It’s CRIMINAL I believe if I know it’s not going to work for most and KNOW what will and then not help. So here I am now giving the whole package. We are doing a crash course on these different platforms like oDesk and Elance and Live Person. Then I am going to do simple basic websites with them using free WP templates and tweaking them to look and feel a certain way so that includes basic Photoshop. After that I am doing Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest with them. Having done that I will brainstorm what their special skills are. Are they good at embroidery or knitting or baking or do they give tuition etc. Having done done that am going to show them how they can then use all the skills they learned to make a business out of what they are already good at.

So suppose a group of 5 girls say they give tuition to primary grade kids. They can make a WP website, create a page for it on FB and link that to Twitter, and now promote themselves as an academy with female only teachers where the local parents would feel comfortable sending their little girls to for exam preparation etc. They can also add tuition classes through Skype as a VAS.

Similarly another group can come together and make a small catering business.

What do you think? Am I missing something here? What are the other ways you think the Internet can help them actually gain financial independence?

OK byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee