by Sana Afouaiz - 01 October 2014
An understanding of information technology has pushed women to catapult from the ranks of the unemployed to leading their own businesses. Access to the Internet improves their education and provides them with opportunities to search and apply for jobs, exchange programs, apply for admission to universities, as well as earning an additional income, thereby empowering themselves and their communities.
Access to the Internet increases women’s sense of empowerment as it provides them with more freedom, brings about an understanding of cultures, strengthens their position on the economic, political and social levels and leads them to become role models in their communities.
Across the African continent, there are some persuasive success stories showing how technology boosts women’s achievements. Chikondi Chabvuta from Malawi, one of the 10 top talented Africans (according to the Mail & Guardian), is fervent about empowering women farmers. Her ambitious desire to educate young women pushed her to use digital technology (webcasts) as a way to keep young girls in her community updated with inspiring role models in Malawi as well as world-wide.
Technology can be used in a very simple way, but could lead to greater achievements. A case in point is that of Diana Mashudu Khumalo from a rural area (Bushbuckridge, Mmpumalanga), who uses her Blackberry to access research on the Internet. Over the past few years, a lack of facilities made this impossible in rural schools.
Another powerful female, Dr Zama Katamzi, an astro-scientist who works in the field of radio astronomy, says: “I am driven by challenges. Men should not feel they’re entitled to certain disciplines. I love to prove that I can also do it!”
These very inspiring stories show the importance of investing in technology literacy among women. However, this is not the case of all women around the global. In fact, many women die every year because of accessing a new technology, as was the case of a Pakistani women “Arifa”, who was stoned to death for having a mobile phone.
A mother of two, she has been dragged to death, respecting the commands of a tribal court for owning a cell phone. She died on 11 July 2013 in the district of Dera Ghazi Khan in Punjab province, stoned to death by her uncle and relatives. They have been given permission to kill her, simply for embracing the new technology.
How come this tribal court gave them the permission to kill her? Why can’t women in some areas in Pakistan enjoy new technology as the opposite sex may? Where is the social justice in all this?
Is this all real? Is this the world we live in? Why do men in some parts of the world still mistreat women?
As stated, the killers (her relatives) pitched stones at her until she passed away. She was surpressed without anyone noticing.
The police recorded a First Information Report against the tribunal court, but no one has been arrested. She was concealed in a desert far away from her town and no one had the right to participate in her funeral, not even her own children.
This is a very normal situation that reflects what happens every single day in Pakistan, because women are often mistreated by these illegal juridical systems. This case is a strongly reflected image of the horrible male-controlled society in Pakistan where women are obligated to persevere under their controls in order to survive. This is due to a lack of an appropriate criminal justice system, and influential units of society which have widespreaded control over women.
In fact, this Pakistani’s woman case is not exceptional or a unique story. Stoning and pelting are not only practiced, but unfortunately legal in at least 15 countries!
It is shame what many women face every single day. We are in 2014, a new technology generation, yet for some of us it is a forbidden to own a simple technology.
My questions are dedicated to all the international platforms that speak on behalf of women rights. Where are you in addressing this serious problem? Where is the United Nations in all this? Why could we not have done anything about this up to now? Are we going to speak out or let more women to die?
I strongly believe that it is necessary to get women engaged in this new phase, guaranteeing them to benefit from the new technology. This will happen only through an intensive effort from everyone, starting from home, government, decision-makers, business owners, universities and schools. Empowering girls and women to become Internet practitioners and providing them with online research, education and networking opportunities is a great step toward development, innovation and social justice.