Technology and women’s empowerment: how digital spaces help women find resources and solidarity
Editor’s note: FII’s #MoodOfTheMonth for August 2022 is Gender and STEM. We invite submissions on the many layers of this theme throughout the month. If you would like to contribute, please refer to our submission guidelines and email your articles to [email protected]
In the current age of unlimited internet access, women have obviously been made vulnerable to several instances of violence such as cyber crime, digital threats, violation of privacy, etc. However, with this increase in the frequency of violence online, there has also been an increase in digital resources that help women deal with it.
With greater access to information online, women have developed a greater sense of awareness. Feminist digital platforms, online educational media, instructional blogs and videos, safety apps, etc., have opened up a virtual space for women to empower them.
In addition, these digital spaces offer women the comfort of anonymity. An anonymously accessible virtual space can provide a form of security that probably no offline or physical medium can provide to individuals with oppressed identities. Let’s look at a few tech media that have helped women and helped them develop a shared network of sisterhood virtually.
Feminist digital platforms and workshops
Digital platforms have probably given the most access to education and awareness for women in recent times. With the evolution of political consciousness, digital platforms are trying to be more inclusive than ever. Ensuring safety, inclusivity and a voice for women and gender minorities at all intersections are no longer just options but necessities. Organizations that have heavily shifted their content from offline media to online media during the two years of Covid lockdown have arguably implemented it the most.
Feminist digital platforms have opened space for every individual to express their opinions, fears and anxieties, and moments of joy, either anonymously or by claiming a name. Digital platforms have helped women also articulate their experiences in words or art forms, and share them with other women around the world.
Workshops and educational programs for women have always existed as an important means of keeping them informed and informed. However, the two factors that have always been a dent in these offline programs are hosting and accessibility.
With the introduction of various online media for group calls and meetings, important programs have shifted significantly from being held in offline spaces to being held online. Physical spaces have a barrier to reaching more of society in terms of numbers and access. One obvious reason for this is that offline programs require a targeted audience to be gathered from distant locations, which is often not possible for women, especially housewives, working women, mothers and women from families who do not have the privilege of attending programs may be held in places far from their homes.
Additionally, many women also feel uncomfortable showing up at places as they fear the consequences of being spotted. This is especially a problem for survivors of violence, who might feel more comfortable maintaining anonymity while still being willing to attend workshops, speeches and other gatherings.
Online media has dramatically changed the scenario as the workshops now see the participation of women across the country. Access to information and education is now just a click away. Women don’t have to step out of their comfort zone or bear the brunt of traveling distances to attend a skills-building program or workshop that interests them.
online education has proven to be much more convenient and flexible for women around the world. Google Meet, Zoom calls, Teamsand several other popular communication technology platforms have made this possible.
Read also : Inclusion, gender sensitivity, intersectionality: the dissonance between our physical spaces and the Internet
Social media platforms
Many people might view social media as a platform that only gives exposure to frivolous lawsuits, toxicity, and online violence. However, social media is an extremely subjective space that caters differently to different people. Despite its adversities, social media is a very important example of how technology has cemented solidarity among women.
From appealing messages to stories of survival, women have found a shared space where voices feel familiar and safer. Social media is one of the main sources that nurture a sense of sisterhood among women of younger generations. Through Whatsapp groups, Instagram posts on women’s issues, Facebook groups and Twitter feeds, women and gender minorities feel aware and supported. Several other popular social media platforms are particularly female-focused and have given women a comfortable space to open up.
Apart from this, many platforms also publish blogs and instructional videos that help women learn countless activities and skills. Long-lost interests are rediscovered and new skills are learned from these platforms. The content on these platforms also inspires other women to create their own content. This is the reason why so many women have had their own Youtube channels in recent years, where they proudly showcase their skills while simultaneously inspiring countless others.
Social media also allows women to connect with other women from other parts of the world, or simply identify with them through shared stories. This has undoubtedly been one of the main sources where women have regained a sense of a lost self through expression and connectedness.
Online job offers
In recent years, more women have been able to achieve financial independence through online workspaces. Special job offers for women on various online sites have increased the availability of work for them. Housewives or mothers who have been on long breaks can now access exclusive opportunities to get back to work. Several websites offer full-time and part-time jobs that they can do while sitting at home.
The confinement has been especially a boon for many women who had previously been unable to devote the time and energy to joining physical workspaces. This has only been made possible through thoughtful advances in technological means that have made work more accessible to women. With continuous updates of new work available on many websites and digital platforms, many women have found online resources much easier to access than offline ones.
Last but not least is the introduction of security apps. Technology has made it possible to track women’s physical and emotional safety at all times through the use of safety apps. In times of potential danger or violence, these safety apps have repeatedly enabled women to seek help from family members, neighbors, friends, and even the police.
Apps like security Council, raksha, Himaatand many others, are popular herparty apps used by Indian women. These apps are designed to be easy to use for women of all ages. For example, the Shake2Safety The app, as the name suggests, only requires a person to shake their device or press the power button four times to notify the desired sources with an SMS or an SOS call.
With greater advancements and access to technology, women are becoming more aware of these apps and other digital platforms. Older women, women who live alone, young women who travel for college, and working women who work late have gotten a lot of help from these security apps.
Thus, technological developments have opened many opportunities and platforms for women in the virtual space. They have helped women to exercise their right to work and freedom of expression which they are often unable to assert. This is a very positive aspect of technology and a testament to how it can be used to empower individuals from marginalized identities.
However, it should not be forgotten that to take advantage of these virtual opportunities, access to the Internet is essential. It remains to be seen how many women and individuals from marginalized groups have primary access to this technology. Interventions in this context must be made to ensure that intersectional gaps are bridged and that technology and the internet become more accessible to all.
Read also : Miss Universe hounded by mediocre men and called a gold digger: Sushmita Sen and the sexist internet
Featured Image Source: Ritika Banerjee for Feminism in India