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Women in Rural Pakistan are being changed by Internet

Posted to Sister Zeph’s Journal

By Sister Zeph

On 16 March, 2014

I live in a remote area of the Pakistan where we can see change happening because the world is changing. But the process of change is very slow and this is because men dominate in our society.

I was just 13 years old girl when started teaching girls of my age in the courtyard of my home. I continued to dedicate my time to this endeavor for 15 years. Few people knew what I was doing. I was fully responsible for covering all of the expenses of my school. I never expected any kind of moral support or financial help from anyone. Despite constant threats to my life, I managed to empower 100 girls all on my own by teaching them skills. Over the course of those 15 years, I taught 500 girls and the number of students attending my school is steadily growing with each coming year.

Then, 2008 marked a new phase in my life: I began working in a telecom organization. Thanks to this opportunity I received free internet access from my home. I also bought a laptop in installments and created a page on face book about my social work.

Many people from around the world visited and liked my page. I was praised for my work and was provided with moral and financial help from my friends. This had a tremendous impact on my work: I found a place to rent which I use to teach my lessons. I also established both a free beauty salon and a stitching center where 40 girls are currently receiving training from qualified teachers. An additional advantage to having access to the internet is that my work has been gradually gaining more media exposure through my participation in online interviews and through sharing my experiences and stories with the world via World Pulse. All this is thanks to the advent of the internet.

Now the question is: If only one woman could bring this much change with the help of internet to Pakistan. Why not make access to the modern world through technology possible for women? Most of the women are not allowed to work. They have to depend on men in order to survive. So, how can they have access to the internet? Girls are discouraged or even sometimes forbidden to get an education, and those who do, are sometimes pressured by their families to stop. This all depends of course on the family’s view of girls’ education. While some support it, many disapprove of their daughters going to school and learning.

In general, girls are not encouraged to study. Indeed, parents tend to focus their attention on educating their sons rather than on their daughters, for, in their view, a girl’s fate is limited to being married off as soon as possible. They do not see an advantage to investing in girls’ education.

In addition, being confined to their homes where they have to take care of their families and receiving very little support from their husbands reduces even more women in Pakistan’s chances of being empowered and of becoming more familiarized with modern technology.

So, what is my role in promoting the use of internet among women? First, I teach them computer literacy. I also help people from my village establish a new connection: They just give me there documents and I arrange the installation of internet for them. In addition, I show many things to my student on my personal laptop to develop their interests; I schedule meetings for mothers and tell them about its usage and benefits. I give beauty tips to my girls by showing them videos on YouTube. I tell them about the advantage of internet.

I give them English language classes so that they can understand the content of websites which are generally written in English. I show them different designs of stitching, and crochet work so that they can learn many new things which they would not have known how to do without the internet.

Another advantage to introducing my students to the internet is that a few of them have written their own stories which they have published on internet websites. In this way, they learn how to express their ideas; they feel very encouraged and honored when they see that many people from around the world can see what they are doing and admire them too.

I work at a grassroots level where women are not aware of their basic rights. They do not even know that they can get information about any topic be it religion cooking, stitching, beauty tips, health tips, or home décor through the internet. In telling them about the benefits of internet, I am trying to create interest in it. Because their experience is limited to their lives in rural areas, I have to tell them about the things that relate to their home. Then gradually, I want them to gain more knowledge of the world so that they can see beyond the environment which is familiar to them, which will make a big difference in their lives. I educate and empower women so they can know that how to use the internet and they can reap the benefits of it.

Women around the world are doing so much to promote internet among women. Through small NGOs, working at a grassroots level, websites, internet cafes, computer centers for women. Television is also playing a vital role in exposing women to the internet. This has enabled them to do business, to help each other, to listen to each other, and to become a voice for each other. The internet has given a voice to the voiceless, and it has given power to the Weak.

One of my goals now is to open a computer learning center at Zephaniah free education. Although I do not have yet funds to carry out my project, I hope that I will be able to make it happen. I feel that will make a big difference in the lives of my students and the women in my community.

 

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