I guess this assessment doesn´t surprise anyone: women, the Internet and human rights are here to stay. Probably what surprises whoever is reading this is the impact and outreach the three of them together can have.
Change Your World (Cambia Tu Mundo), Yahoo!’s Business & Human Rights Summit that took place on September 12th and 13th in Mexico City is an excellent example of what I mean. For a day and a half, women from different countries, backgrounds and experiences in Latin America shared their dreams, lives, challenges and proved that new technologies and the Internet are incomparable tools of empowerment.
I won´t go over the event’s program nor the participants. (Links to them are available here and here). What I want to do is highlight the wonderful lessons I learned after participating in Change Your World.
1. Women are a driving force towards equality in the world. Yes, women represent not only 50% of the world population, they represent half of the idea and proposal creators. Many don´t know it, but new technologies can help them be heard and allow their proposals and ideas to be included in the development and prosperity of their communities, countries…. and therefore… of the planet.
2. Digital literacy of women in Latin America must be considered a priority for policy makers. Even though Spanish is the third most important language on the Internet with 182,379,220 users, there is lack of content created and written in it. If you add the lack of women´s voices as content creators in the region, the figures are worrisome. We cannot allow nor permit the addition of this marginalization to the many other kinds of marginalization women face (education, health, financial, justice and so on).
3. Women and the Internet can be a creative explosion. Throughout the sessions one thing was absolutely clear: the participants demonstrated in various and creative ways how the Internet can be used to support not only good causes, but very practical economic, social and political outcomes. The Internet can be a democratization tool to help build and consolidate new realities where women´s interests and needs can be not only expressed but included.
I have to add that Yahoo´s interest in women, new technologies and human rights guided by the Yahoo! Business and Human Rights Program represents an assertive tool to show the world that inclusion, development and prosperity can only be achieved if the population that has been excluded (women) is included in every project and proposal.
The right to be informed and to have access to the means to express oneself must be a priority not only to ICT companies but for users, creators, innovators, entrepreneurs and policy makers in the Internet and ICT field.
Finally, I want to thank Yahoo!, Yahoo Latin America and Yahoo! Mexico and especially Sonja Gittens-Ottley and Ebele Okobi for including me in this process. I say process, not event, because I am convinced that Cambia Tu Mundo was the trigger for a process of inclusion, creation, transformation, cooperation, knowledge and support among women in the region. It takes a process to Change Your World….
Claudia Calvin is Executive Director for the Mexican Council on Foreign Relations (COMEXI) and Founder of Mujeres Construyendo, the first platform for Spanish speaking bloggers in Latin America as guest blogger. Claudia was the event moderator at Change Your World Mexico City 2012.