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Internet Access is the Biggest Gadget that the World Needs to Create Change- It is one basic right!

That day, five years ago, I sat at the key board to try it out! I had done countable emails and visited a few sites but never my own typesetting. This would be slow and so raise up my bill to give the cyber cafe guy! So I opted to sell out my privacy and secrets rather than pay unaffordable bills.

The journey to the cyber was long. Yes it was always far- a few kilometers under the hot sun! Going there at all was at one's own risk, for chances that electricity would be off or the connectivity down always reigned Should electricity go off then it was even a harder task for me! The only cyber cafe that uses a petrol driven generator was again another thirty or so minutes walk. The story still remains the same for my community.

Women talk about their rights violated, those widows whose land and property have been snatched away. The youth want more resources, information. I sit down and think, then I say, I, we, will not make it without access to the internet! How will we get all this information together? How will we call for action? How will we get the signatures?

Talking more about electricity then and now, it goes off unannounced at any time of the day or night. It completely disorganizes your plan for the day. You have to lay proper strategy to cope up with this by creating alternative duties that you will handle meanwhile as you wait. These are duties that have nothing to do with electricity.

Since communication is essential, there were, and still are no options but to trek! Still my community suffers almost the same way like it was then! The cyber cafes are all located around the same area, that is in the center of the town.The rooms are small and sweaty during the hot season. Most of the time you have to wait to get space since the computers are few, and cross your fingers that in between, that electricity or connectivity does not go off.

The cost of accessing the internet is high, so one never has the ability to do what they would like to efficiently. You have to limit yourself, your words, hence time.

Now is the time to see change. Women create a smaller percentage of the groups that access the internet. Sometimes they do not feel safe due to the complex that has been created. Women need safe space and a bridged gap, for without proper access to communication we will be losing out as women.

In Migori District there are those from, for example Giribe, who travel more than 20 kilometers to access the internet in Migori. This is on a rough road, and the journey may take a whole hour, and the frequency of getting a vehicle to board is unpredictable. It is expensive to travel too- so it's a whole day affair to read an email. The cost of travel is 500 shillings, and even more on a motor bike since the frequency is higher.This has therefore put a block to many and made access an impossibility. For women this becomes even more difficult since there are daily tasks to be done at home.

More modern technology should be introduced, since the internet is quite slow. The shillings go as you look at the screen, and so does our time!

I preach the power of the internet because I have tasted it, thanks to World Pulse. My house and office are like cyber cafes for women. But one computer will not serve us efficiently! I know what changes it can bring to individuals, families, communities and the world.

The Governments of the world should look into this. There is barrier for communication and worse, information. The best solution would be to make access available for her people. There should be basic affordable trainings for adults, and more at earlier stages. Maybe they could also borrow a leaf from World Pulse, and let each one teach five! The world will then shake. Right now, we cannot afford a smile.

We want change! We want our rights, right here right now! Access to the internet is one such right!

By Leah Auma Okeyo.
Africa Outreach Specialist- World Pulse
Speaking for my community, Migori, Kenya.

In a time when freedom of expression and equal access to knowledge and ideas has become synonymous with access to the Internet, World Pulse is asking women worldwide: What does "Universal Internet Access and Digital Freedom" mean to YOU? This month, we invite you to raise your voice by writing about the everyday obstacles you face and risks you take in accessing the Internet, or how you have used it to change lives and bring about positive change in your community. Click here to learn more about this campaign and how to participate.

      • Africa
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