Information and Communications Technology, also known as ICT, “refers to technologies that provide access to information through telecommunications.” 1 It focuses on technologies for communication, like telecommunications, broadcast media, audiovisual processing and transmission systems and such. This includes the Internet, cell phones, radio, television, and wireless networks. It gives a chance for people worldwide to communicate and share ideas and information.
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ICT is a very broad subject and it is an important part of our lives today. Not only it improves our way of communicating and transferring data and information but it because of this it can affect and influence people at a large rate. ICT studies how communication in the modern times can affect the society since it is used and accessed by almost everyone every day. One of the things that ICT can do to the society is it can develop empowerment, social movement and social transformation.
One example of how ICT was used for social movement was during the Tunisian Revolution that started last December 2010. People used social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Skype to spread awareness of the said revolution.
In this research paper, we will be focusing on how ICT is used as a mean for social change and empowerment for women. An organization entitled, “Women’s Learning Partnership” or WLP, used ICT to raise their advocacies through creating a website to connect to other people to diminish the marginalization and isolation of women.
The Internet is used as a medium for discussing any topic whatsoever either publicly or privately. Women from other countries, specifically Iranian women, access the medium as a platform for openly voicing out their concerns in public discourse and laws on discrimination. The country aided the young and the women, and the rate of the users of the Internet rose to a remarkably high percentage, with a total of around 11 million users, women users leading. The numbers of female bloggers in Iran are also leading the blogosphere, which meant that women communicate through the Internet to address to the society. Communities that support women’s empowerment, such as Women’s Learning Partnership, believe that women from across the world use ICT to its full capability to improve on their daily life and take advantage of even bigger situations such as employment, finance, education, and even their rights. The benefits of ICT were that even disabled individuals were able to access it which can serve as their participation in various communities that can benefit them.
Empowerment refers to the when those who don’t have the ability to make life choices acquire the said ability. ICT was an empowering tool, such that it is still used to this very day. The probability of ICT being a solution to world problems was said to be high, mainly because it was paid much attention to. Communication, also, was an empowering tool, and obviously a part of ICT. Thus, it is accessing information, and while users can communicate even when they are not connected at the same time, it was still an exchange of information. Furthermore, digital processing of information can help organize almost every kind of work and activity in ways which were previously unthinkable. The Internet, ICT’s medium, was developed as a decentralized network. Its power is supposed to be located at the end points of the said network. Another feature of ICT as an empowerment is that its goal is a move towards bigger problems, such as globalization, whereby the national social system level issues is shifting to global levels. The Women’s Learning Partnership realized this, and then used ICT as a platform for social change and empowerment of women, tackling issues that when solved would be an advantage for them.
Women’s Learning Partnership (WLP) is an international, non-profit, and non-governmental organization that is dedicated to the leadership, empowerment and civic engagement of women, as well as human rights. It is working with 20 partner organizations in the Global South, mostly in Muslim-majority civilizations. This organization was established last January 2000 by Mahnaz Afkhami. Later, the organization worked with other establishments whom later became their partners. They worked on programs, tools and strategies to bring education programming on leadership and rights of women, along with trainings to improve information and communication technology for their staffs. WLP also used curriculum for women that are language-appropriate and specific on culture and web-based resources.
The Women’s Learning Partnership help individuals achieve their potential through programs such as advocacy campaigns, training programs and researches. They create different curricula for their workshops and resources like books, manuals and films. These learning tools are used to engage in training, capacity building and support as they work toward their vision for women’s progress.
Women’s Learning Partnership (WLP) believes that when women and youth across the world can harness technology, they may improve and change not only their own lives and skill but also help their communities advance in gaining employments, better information and resources, health safety, education and many more.
One of the training manuals that WLP developed is the “Making IT Our Own: Information & Communication Technology Training of Trainers Manual”. Its objective is to provide and teach skills in using technology that will help them for their gender justice and human rights advocacies. Trainers give step-by-step instructions for technology tools, they also use CDs and computers for resources. They train them to be fluent with Web 2.0 applications like blogs and social networks; with office software such as spreadsheets and word processing; internet tools; and skills for online privacy and security. The good thing about this manual is that it uses everyday scenarios to explore issues that are related to gender, at the same time with technology.
“Cultural Boundaries and Cyber Spaces: Women’s Voices on Empowerment, Leadership, and Technology” is a documentary produced at the year 2000, by the Women’s Learning Partnership about the usage of technology in advancing in specific cultural borders. There were interviews where women talked about the role of ICT and its evolution for the women’s movement and advocacies.
They see many opportunities being made with the help of ICT as a tool for social change and women empowerment. Changes can almost be seen in a drastically fast rate. With ICT, they can change lives of many people, wherein equal treatment of women as individuals is obtainable in our current society. Now, WLP is helping to strengthen the cooperation of people and organizations all around the world to work for human dignity and security.
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