Say ‘Elo’ To Kenya’s Solution To Tourist Communication

Published by: Givens Kachero (638161) | Winnie Booker (652857) | Hussein Jiva (628978) | Lewis Ochieng (652838)

Kenya is a hotbed of culture, attractions and innovation – a reputation the nation has earned for its various exploits, achievements and contributions. And among the key sectors that have contributed to the country’s burgeoning success stories is the tourism sector.

Continue reading Say ‘Elo’ To Kenya’s Solution To Tourist Communication

Advertisements

Evolution of Music in Africa in the Digital Era

By Isaac Masiga

Nyatiti21
Nyatiti Band Players.                                  Source: singingwells.org

 

 

Introduction

Music has been termed as a universal language that has broken barriers of communication in such a way that one doesn’t need to pursue in depth studies in order to understand music. It comes naturally. Music is not limited to words. The words in a piece of music make just part of the elements that describe music. Music has a way of evoking different emotions even if the words may not be understood. Continue reading Evolution of Music in Africa in the Digital Era

Mass media and the changing faces of news collection in the Digital Era, By Ndiga Kithae

 

The mass media studies emerged in the early middle ages with the church (Mcquail 2008) having various means of reaching the public without exceptions. However, it was in the late sixteenth century when independent media came into place with the birth of newspaper two hundred years after print technology was invented.

The newspaper as medium of mass communications involved production of regular editions did not become an effective tool of the mass medium until the twentieth century according to mcquail, (mass communication theory 2008) when large enterprises took publishing as a business.News paper as a medium of mass media communication was followed by radio broadcasting, film and later televisions broadcasting.

The mass media communications was revolutionised by the advent of satellite communication and the entrance of computer. The entrant of the Internet has also enhanced the accessibility of news to the public especially with online news. Marshall McLuhan in the 1960s, envisaged an environment when the world turned into a global village with the advent of new technologies since technology broke down the geographical barriers. Today, with the development of smartphones and faster transmission of data through Wi-Fi and most recently, LI-FI launched in Dubai, on March 2016, the world indeed is not a ‘global village’ but in ‘our palm’. With a smart phone, and with access to LI-Fi, you can transmit data at a speed of 220 GB per second!SOu

 

Whereas we have looked at the process through which the mass mediums have been transformed over the century, it is also important to review how the news collection process has also evolved.

Traditionally, the news production is largely encapsulated under journalism and a journalist according to American Press Institute is person who uses particular methods to gather and assess information for publications. The process of news collection and production for print, radio and television are similar. The journalists congregate in the newsroom in the morning and ran through the docket and a reporter is sent to venue where an event is taking place. A print reporter is accompanied by a photographer, a radio reporter is accompanied by a recorder while a television reporter is accompanied, by a camera man.

Once the materials are collected, they are brought back to the newsroom for processing and by the news editors and the sub-editors before the newspaper is published or a radio story or television story is aired. The whole process of the news production was controlled at the newsrooms by the news producers and the news owners. In absence of telephone It would a whole day to produce a story since reporter has to report back to the newsroom to file a story.

Sub-editors preparing to publish a newspaper in a newsroom in the early 20th century
Evening standard Newsroom.Sub-editors preparing to publish a newspaper in a newsroom in the early 20th century. Photo courtesy os Getty images

The public or the mass audience were deemed to be inactive and relied on the news from the media houses as presented by journalists. It is not surprising then that the early mass media theories were based on the facet. The hypodermic needle theory, cultivation theory, agenda setting theory and framing theories are all based on this assumption.

With the advent of digital media and social media, this news gathering process has been disrupted. The audience are no longer static objects waiting to be bombarded with news from the mass media channels but they are also active players in the news production.

All leading media houses now have digitlal media links
All leading media houses now have digital media links

By definition, social media are computer related tools which allow individuals to share, create and exchange information directly without any mediations. As a public relation practitioners, I do not need to send a press release to a newsroom so that the same can be relayed to my target audience. Directly, through the website, Facebook or twitter, this information can be shared directly.

The media houses have woken up to this truth and have embraced new means of news collection.According to a Pew Research in 2014, it was found that 46% of social media users posted their own photos of news events to a social networking site, while 12% had posted videos. This practice played a role in a number of recent breaking news events, including the riots in Ferguson USA in 2015.

To respond to this new development, media house giants like British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)have restructured and adopted a new mode of news collection and dissemination.

When BBC set up a user generated content (UGC)hub in 2005 to monitor social news in the newsroom, they never anticipated the importance of news gathering from this approach and only assigned two journalist to manage the hub.According Trushar Barot, the chief news editor then, after one week of setting up the unit, the July 7th 2005 bombing of London underground train took place. Initial reports indicated that the explosion was caused by a power surge and until, the audiences who witnessed the event started sharing images, on social media, BBC realised that it was not a power surge but a terrorist bomb attack and this changed the whole story.

Bart avers, that from this incidence, they learnt that the audience knew more than BBC, the audience helped the media house tell the story faster and tell the story better. Today, UGC has a permanent presence inside the BBC newsroom and instead of two journalists, they have more that 20 media journalists covering international and domestic stories. and operates for twenty four hours.

stock-photo-man-media-digital-www-meaning-concepts-245653645
A team of journalist are now based in the newsroom to look for news from the social media applications

CNN in July 2006 launched IREPORT platform to allow citizens or individuals file stories rather than wait for their news report to do the same. This has brought about citizens journalism all facilitated by the emerging digital and social media trends.

In recognition of the importance of the social media in news gathering, several tools have been developed to assist journalists gather news faster.Facebook lists and tweetdeck have been used by journalist to keep them abreast with their specific beats. Storyful, as social newswire has developed tools for monitoring numerous lists on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and other networks and use key words to relate to news event.Previously,journalist popularly used newswires such as AFP, Reuters etc to monitor news story.

Malachy Browne, the news editor of Storyful, in an interview told Journalism .co.uk journal that, they have developed social media monitoring tools which also include geolocation of posts and tweets. Storyful, owns a software known as Heat map and can search for news based on the velocity of tweets or posts from different geographical location and this is enable by the fact that most smartphones have GPS features.

 

The media houses in Kenya have restructured to include digital media platforms and this has seen some redundancy. Both the Standard, People Daily, The star and nation media have dedicated digital media teams have developed their with news applications to have a presence in the social media scene.

Other applications like InformaCam have been developed help journalist verify information scoured from the social networks and make the process of user generated content easier. In conclusion, social media has not only, revolutionised news collections process but also call for need to develop new mass media theories to explain this new phenomenon which undermines the popular media effects theories developed in the 1920s.

Saving Lives Through Mobile Phone Innovations

gitahi-sdg-2_750x501
A health worker using a mobile phone App to collect data from a client (Photo: AMREF)

By Carolyne Khamala

For a long time women in Africa are presented with the most difficult decision of whether to provide food for their children or healthcare due to the high cost of accessing quality healthcare services.

 The sub-Saharan Africa is said to be home to 12% of the world’s population with 22% of the global disease burden. In addition, a number of health facilities in Africa are ill equipped to provide basic health services to millions of people in dire need of these services.

To address such issues, a number of health organisations have shifted their focus to research and find innovative ways to provide solutions in order to save lives especially in most underdeveloped countries in sub- Saharan Africa.

Infographic
Photo: Manifest Mind Mobile

In the recent past, Africa has seen a rise in mobile and internet penetration with over 70% mobile phone penetration and 7-10% getting access to the internet. Mobile phones have revolutionised a number of sectors ranging from education to commerce, agriculture, healthcare and many more.

Most donor funded health orgaisations and corporate organisations such as Safaricom, Kenya’s largest network through the M-pesa Foundation invest largely in innovative solutions to improve the health standards of communities as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

Having worked in a health Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) for a number of years, I have had an opportunity to work with a team of creative and innovative researchers who work tirelessly to develop innovative ways to provide health solutions to save lives through the mobile phone technology such as M-Hakika, HELP, m-JALI, m-JIBU which I will discuss briefly in this article.

In my line of duty, I have also documented great stories from some of the beneficiaries of these innovations especially in hard to reach areas where access to quality and affordable healthcare is a major issue.

M-Hakika

M-Hakika also known as the mobile wallet health insurance is a mobile phone application that provides access to healthcare and money to women in Kenya who cannot afford the high costs of healthcare services.

The platform also provides women the freedom to make their own decisions about the health of their families. The health wallet also helps them make savings through the mobile phone, pay and receive money for healthcare at any health clinic of their choice.

HELP

The Health Enablement Learning Platform (HELP) is a mobile learning solution that provides learning content approved by the Ministry of Health to health workers. The platform can be accessed from any location through the Short Message Service (SMS), audio case – studies, lectures, quizzes and assignments and at the same time helps health workers seek advise from their colleagues and experts.

HELP-1.jpg
A health worker in Samburu seeks advise through the HELP platform (Photo: AMREF)

A tracking system provides reports on the users performance. The application has resulted in increased knowledge and skills of the health workers, improved referral levels between the community and the health facility.

The learning platform complements the face-to-face learning while yielding better results than classroom learning.

I recently visited Nzauni Dispensary in Mwingi sub-county where health workers are using the HELP group chat collaboration feature to sensitise community health workers on various health issues and provide direction on how to address various health problems at the household level.

 “The HELP platform has provided a much easier and faster way of communicating with household members within my community. I was able to follow up on a patient suffering from TB and had defaulted for quite some time from the training I undertook through my mobile device,” said one of the health workers.

mJALI

Mjali
A demo on  mJALI (Photo: AMREF)

mJALI (Mobile JamiiAfya Link) is a mobile phone application running on Android system that automates the collection and management of health data from community health workers.

Once the data is collected using the mobile phone, the data is transmitted to the Community-based Health Management Information System (CBHMIS) for collation before transmission to the Data Health Information System (DHIS).

More and more developing countries are beginning to use mobile technology in health. In countries such as South Africa is using the MAMA SMS service to provide support to pregnant women and new mothers with evidence-based during postnatal care while BBC launched a WhatsApp mobile phone service to send audio, images and text message alerts to the public on how to combat the spread of Ebola in Africa.

This is a clear indication that in the present time the mobile phone is a powerful tool and plays a key role in providing information and education in health systems in Africa and save millions of lives.

 

 

Why shy away from the Silicon Savannah?

Africa-hero
Image: Tech Republic

By Alex Roberts

Look, everyone gets that Nairobi is the new frontier of investment.

Businesses are popping up hand over fist at a rate that was simply unfathomable, even as recent as five years ago. Yet, there are many who sit back on the sidelines, deathly afraid of risking it all and getting in the game. Not long ago there have been many voices calling out their dissent, their innate dissatisfaction with all of the young up and comers, the millennial generation, who are trying to take their turn leaping into the newest phase of the digital revolution.

Now is Kenya’s time as this is ground zero for the Silicon Savannah. Yes, there are other rivals to digital supremacy within the African sphere (notably Nigeria and South Africa) but none have gone as far, as fast and as effectively.

This is the age of the new and Kenya’s own rapidly growing slice of tech through the massive start up space that is invading Nairobi is the way to leap frog into the 21st century. This can spring the country ahead in development to such an extent that it may truly be the way that the country reaches levels of economic development only felt south of the Sahara in start up accelerators in Johannesburg.

Frankly put this situation of intense growth wasn’t around even a decade ago, let alone that prehistoric period known as the 90’s. Any tiny inkling of an idea has the potential to become ubiquitous in Nairobi, something that the general masses simply can’t imagine living without.

tech tnooz
Strange image, but it might not be too far off base. Image: TNooz.com

How is this possible?

Angel investors are flocking in, a sudden light bulb moment seeming to burst forth from the entire business world. Africa is the new market and tech is how to get there, Kenya has the best IT workforce and most welcoming trends for foreign investment in the entire region. Click goes the light bulb.

Now once marginal tech spaces and accelerators like I-Hub and Nairobi Garage (formerly the accelerator known as 88 MPH) are drawing in not only the best and brightest minds from all spheres of Nairobi but connecting them with the biggest and most influential tech players in the entire world. Even Microsoft used Nairobi Garage as an office for some of their employees for a while.

This is going against the grain and doing so in an active and positive way that is largely bringing in Kenyans in their 20s to make their mark.

Tradition and even some theory points to Kenya and other African states being behind, having to play catch up to world superpowers that are miles ahead in terms of digital impact.

This is for lack of a better word, utterly and entirely false.

The old school hypotheses of the world system theory are shifting and have been for quite a while.

Sure, in a lot of realms Kenya is still considered to be a third world country, one that sits and struggles on the periphery of development while others flourish. Digital advances are the great equalizer. Anyone from any country can create something without relying on anyone else, immediately jumping from periphery to core with a singular clever innovation.

That isn’t to say that there won’t be many people who are going to try to hold back whoever comes up with a spectacular once-in-a-lifetime idea, even if it could have an impact far beyond the reaches of the Silicon Savannah and into a global scope.

cell empower magazine
With everyone and their mother being digitally connected, the reasons to sit out of the Silicon Savannah are becoming less everyday. Image: Empower Magazine

“Sit back and wait,” They’ll cry, “I struggled for decades before eventually cracking through that ceiling and making it with my own creative vision.” A bigger misconception has never been uttered from the lips of someone masquerading as wise.

The length of the hustle doesn’t negate how hard things were or how much you pushed for your digital dream to become a reality and this is almost more true in the business world of the 21st century. Opportunities these days are made at the end of a finger, the touch of a button and can end almost as quickly

This ‘earning it’ for Kenyan start ups trying to find their corner in the Silicon Savannah is not only ridiculous, it’s a serious detriment to the young and brilliant who might actually find themselves holding the spark of something incredible in their hands.

Here’s a free hint: everyone else is trying to spark that same fire.

Especially when comparing tech capabilities of Kenya against those of say, the US, the first world companies often have more experience, more funding, more marketing reach and better contacts padding their brand new iPhone’s  memory banks.

It’s survive or die time in the digital space and the Silicon Savannah has to keep up with the trend of staying at the crest of the wave. One study indicates that the number of enterprise apps will increase by 100% in many major businesses worldwide. The biggest in business are diving in with both feet into digital and so should Kenya.

Just because Kenya is at the forefront doesn’t mean the nation should sit back on its laurels. One 2014 report indicates from the Communications Authority of Kenya indicates that digital penetration among the population stood at around 52%. Anyone who thinks that figure will reduce in the coming years is dreaming.

One invention could change simply everything for the periphery as far as digital exposure is concerned. Li-Fi internet connection (gaining connection through solar panels and LED lights) could suddenly push billions online. The same is true in Kenya. Those in Turkana, those far from the bright lights of Nairobi’s Silicon Savannah could suddenly become an integral part of the nation’s tech boom.

Check out this explanation on Li-Fi to see some of the future for yourself.

 

The message to all of you dreamers stuck treading water in this digital explosion rings fairly simple: forget about all the naysayers holding you back, you’re much better off on your own.

All those older detractors, pushing heavily down on the dreams that you yourself are in charge of may have already been through their age of golden opportunity and squandered it to the same fears that they’re now projecting onto your Start Up idea for creating an app that can have your phone make cotton candy (we’re sure that’ll be a thing by the year 2018).

This is the Silicon Savannah, a label that Kenya should not only wear proudly but carry forth as the nation’s business banner with a battle cry into the 21st century.

Everyone has their own reasons for doubts. Can Kenya really make it in the space? Will the important tech players be interested in anything that you have to say? Is there a market for innovations coming out of Kenya? Will tech entrepreneurs lose everything and be forced to retreat to live the rest of their lives life in obscurity?

Everything is a risk in this life, but tech is one area that you don’t have certain ‘necessary’ costs that can weigh down and destroy other businesses. It’s just you and your laptop and a multitude of business opportunities: wherever you can find connection others can connect to you.

Why wait? Ever hear that term the ‘golden-age’ of something? Well, you’re living in one right now, the golden age of digital and the Silicon Savannah could be the Midas touch for Kenya. It’s a time in history that is incredibly exciting or the tech-minded, the gifted, those with a laptop and a dream.

 

The investors aren’t at the gates; they’re in office spaces down the road in Nairobi. This is the Silicon Savannah, you might as well jump into the deep end of the digital revolution right now and embrace it, if not you could find your world-changing idea with a lot of vultures circling around it. Whether or not to click is up to you.

See for yourself the potential for digital tech in Kenya.

New age parenting: A hurdle or not?

By Esther O Ochieng

Babies using tablet - source wall street journal
Photo Source: Wall Street Journal

Being a mother of two young girls I often debate with other parents or at times with myself about the effect of internet and digital gadgets on our lifestyles as opposed to the older times when we were raised. Gone are the days when parents had a lighter time raising children. Parents were the main source of information that nurtured a child’s character apart from peers, teachers and the community. Enter now, the digital age, myriads of information are flying by every second making parenting a daunting task. From a young age children are exposed to a lot of material online that may impact in their behavior. Have you seen a toddler trying to finger swipe a television or ‘analogue’ phones much to their frustration? I have seen many, I have even seen my children try it. It can be daunting.

TEENS_ON_SOCIAL_MEDIA www.umcom.org
Teens on social media. Source: http://www.umcom.org

Raising a child in the digital age needs parents to have guidelines on internet usage for their children. It’s not possible to just make a blanket decision and deny children especially teenagers access to online sources because they develop a stronger desire to access internet from other areas like peers, at school or cyber cafes. This alternative sources turn out to be unsafe as it isn’t regulated and possibly exposes the child to explicit or violent content.

A study by Pew Research Center revealed that 92% of teenagers are online on a daily basis. This has become possible through the ever increasing availability of smartphones and its ease of access into the internet.

credit- unicef kenya
Two young ladies in Kawangware Nairobi using their mobile phones on the side of the street. Credit UNICEF Kenya

It is literally difficult to deny your child access to a phone moreover the internet, I haven’t succeeded and my children are only just preschoolers. Today, a lot of practices children have developed come from the internet and not to fault them even adults’ lifestyle choices are affected by ease of access to the internet. Of all age groups, teenagers are most vulnerable because they are at a point in life where they’re easily impressed. There is an enormous amount of pressure to fit in which most of the time influences how they eat, dress and behave. Google, YouTube, streaming channels etc. just to mention a few have opened another world to them, albeit positively and negatively. Did you know that most of your children have watched pornographic materials at least a few times before they turned 18? This might be a shocker but according to statistics 92% of boys and 62% of girls have watched porn before their 18th birthday. This is according to a study by covenant press as seen in the image below.

covenant eyes
Statistics by covenant press on teens and porn. Credit http://www.covenantpress.com

Nonetheless, there are many potential benefits of the internet among teenagers when it is used productively. For instance, children can access educational material online which can be useful with studies. Gaming is also important for brain growth provided the amount of time taken in plating should be regulated and the types of games carefully chosen. They may use media channels online to connect with peers across national divides and create cross cultural friendships. There are many parents who have used new media positively and are having great results with their children. I have used media available online to teach my child various activities, learn colours and shapes, even to show her she can brush her teeth independently and successfully. See the video below also used by Fastrack Kids Kindergarten in Johannesburg to enhance social learning in class.

Social media and the internet are very useful tools to advance sustainable social and economic development. New technological advancements and milestones have been achieved during this digital age making it almost impossible to regulate this tool which is a double edged sword, it has its benefits but is also harmful. Researchers continue to look into way of making the internet safer to use to increase productivity for children. Parents are encouraged to teach their children on safe internet use in order to encourage responsible habits. This is no easy fit owing to the millions of information online. For starters, as a parent you need to be fully conversant with internet. Some parents are technology savvy and do not take much interest using internet. It becomes difficult to regulate someone from using a tool or service while you aren’t aware of its benefits and risks. Understanding internet usage enables a parent limit access to only appropriate content and interactions on social sites.

On a lighter note there’s an interesting video on you tube showing a toddler conducting CPR on a dummy. Amazing, right? The toddler must have observed someone doing it, right?  It is an arguably cute video but on the flip side it demonstrates how easy it is for a child to pick up a habit or behavior just by being exposed to it. You may watch it later on this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JRoSAkeV_Qc. Parenting is full time duty that requires a parent to be very observant of their children’s activities especially online. Psychologists encourage open communication between parents and children so that they’re able to guide on best practices of internet use and safeguard them from harmful retrogressive digital age cultures.

Here are a few simple procedures to guide internet usage for your child;

  • Constant supervision of internet use through computers or mobile phones
  • Initiating parenting controls on websites with obscene content like porn sites
  • Purchase of internet software that regulate internet browsing and safety
  • Educate your child on the dangers of accessing harmful websites especially clicking on those pop advertisements
  • Some may call it stalking but try to interact with your child while they’re online

Mobile and Internet Technology: How the More Revolution is Improving the Quality of Life for Women and Girls in Afghanistan

 

Untitled

 

Afghan girls surf the internet to get more information on human rights especially for women.          Photo credit: Manezha Mohamed, Afghanistan

 

By Joan Lewa

From August 2014 to March 2015, I had the pleasure of working with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Kabul, Afghanistan.  Many thought I was insane to accept the short-term contract in such a war-torn country. Some even bid me a “see you in heaven” goodbye since I was sending myself to the gallows. For me, I considered it an opportunity of a lifetime knowing I will be able to meet Afghan women, who I’d heard so much about, especially their determination in the fight for equality, voting rights, equal employment opportunities among other.

Afghanistan, a mountainous landlocked country located in South Asia, is famously known for the long-term unrest caused by war.  Worst is the way women are treated, confined to extremism in religion, negative social and economic elements. For decades, Afghan women have been second class citizens, not even allowed to vote in elections. They were married at 13 years and no option for divorce and no chance of inheriting anything. The women were never allowed to move around without an escort of a male.

Afghan women were not allowed to walk out without the company of a man or boy regardless of age. The boy is to report on their conversations or any acts that may be seen deviant according to the Sharia law.
Afghan women were not allowed to walk out without the company of a man or boy regardless of age. The boy is to report on their conversations or any acts that may be seen deviant according to the Sharia law. 

During my stay, and working as a development communications outreach for USAID gave me an opportunity have many site visits with the escort of the American marines.  Some of my duties were to move around and collect success stories and blogs which I would publish on website.  Over the period, I got to meet many women and girls. One thing was for sure – The More Revolution had indeed reached Afghanistan and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) especially the mobile phone and internet were favorably helping in the process of empowering women and girls.

The “More” in terms of donor funding is one positive aspect that contributed to Afghanistan’s rapid growth of ICT.  It happened at a time where millions of dollars from development partners was poured in the country from donors. It will be noted that many targeted the interests of women especially in changing the conservative attitudes towards women. The influx of (More) cheap smartphones from China which retail for as little as ten dollars was an important variable that contributed to the growth of ICT in Afghanistan. Of “more” noteworthy is the “youth bulge” that constituted of millions of young people of below thirty years. These youths, majority being women and girls, desired progress in their fight for human rights faster than the Afghan government could give.  They, in numerous numbers and equipped with the use of mobile phones and internet became difficult to control and with that power, they have managed to improve their livelihood.

Social media advances understanding of girls and women’s rights

One of the girls I had the opportunity to meet is Hamira Hamidi.  “I was afraid to join Facebook”, she explains.  I was afraid because this was a rare thing for women and girls in Afghanistan.  Since joining social media, Hamira now has over 1,500 Facebook friends and over 6000 Twitter followers. “When I learn of a woman who is not on Facebook, I say ‘how do you exist without Facebook?’”. Working as a consultant for women’s right campaigns, she is able to use social media to reach out to thousands of women and children, educating them of their rights. Hamira also set up the Afghan Women’s Network of Technology which has a coalition of more than 90 women groups.

Hamira also takes time to teach young girls on how to use social media tools and internet to access information.
Hamira also takes time to teach young girls on how to use social media tools and internet to access information.  Photo credit:  Samim Wafeq, Afghanistan

Mobile-money Transfer Deepens Financial Inclusion

Another impressive stride that mobile technology has given to the Afghan women is the use of mHawala (mobile money). Typically, women in Afghanistan are not allowed to work away from home. They have to be escorted by a male when leaving the house the only job they are allowed is that of tailoring, where they are confined to a room.  The mHawala mobile technology, a home-based business that allows transfer of cash, payment of bills and even a personal bank is changing women’s lives. I met Fardha Ahmed, who impressively defied the trend of women unemployment and became a mobile money agent for a telecommunications company. Fardha believes that by doing so, she is preparing a way for other women who are looking for jobs. She works from home and offers the mHawala services to neighbors, local business people and relatives. She earns seven percent per transaction, customer registrations and sale of pre-paid cards. “My dad refused that I work outside of my house” said Fardha, 23. “I discussed with father and managed to convince him and now I work from home, the money I get is also helping in paying for my sister’s education.”

Promoting Social Justice

Afghan women protesting the brutal murder of Farkhunda Malikzada. They all took to the streets after messages of demonstration went viral in the women’s network. Photo credit: Radio Liberty, Afghanistan

“We are able to post on social media women injustices taking place here,” says Farni Marwad 30. “Hard evidence helps us women get global attention, forcing judges to imprison men who they would have otherwise released.” Farni was a biter woman at the time of my interview with her. She narrated of the case of Farkhunda Malikzada, who had been murdered by in the streets. Killed with medieval cruelty, Malikzada had an argument with a mullah (a religions scholar), where he accused her of burning the Koran.  She was then beaten, thrown from the roof, ran over by a car, her body set on fire and later dumped in Kabul River, the police looked on. “Power was out that day so communication was impossible, she says.  “I saw it on Facebook, Hamidi had posted it and with all the women’s network, the clip went viral.” Farni smiles at this point because by morning millions of people around the world were condemning the action. The case eventually demonstrated Facebook in action among Afghanistan women. She believes that the judge could not release or give the accused a less conviction because all eyes were on him, especially with the hard evidence circulating on social media.

Reducing the unemployment gap for women

More girls and women Afghanistan are getting information through the internet and mobile applications.
More girls and women Afghanistan are getting information from the internet and mobile applications.  Photo credit: USAID/Afghanistan

Technology has also helped Ms. Manisha Roya become a role model for girls and women in Afghanistan, especially those who want to become future leaders. Roya, after graduating with a degree in computer science opened her own company where she sells software.  The company has 30 employees, 21 of whom are female. Roya represents one of the hundreds of Afghan women who have started companies encompassing the technology world. They believe that the way to peace and modernization in Afghanistan can be found in technology. They are audacious, braving Afghanistan’s cultural and religious norms are marching up with courage to front-run their own companies.

Promoting education 

It was good to learn, recently that the Education Ministry in Afghanistan introduced a new literacy application for mobile phones. Ustad Mobil (mobile teacher) will give traditional ways of learning a modern approach. The application will be providing information to both national languages and it also has modules in language and math. Though the Ustad may not end violence against female teachers and learners, it will most definitely make the education policy makers explore further on strategies that will make education accessible to women and girls who are sometimes not allowed to attend schools.

Women in adult education are able to access information and learning in their national languages – thanks to Ustad mobile.
Women in adult education are able to access information and learning in their national languages – thanks to Ustad mobile.  Photo credit: Getty Images

Conclusion

The More revolution should not be mistaken for just quantity but also about improvements in lives as in the case of Afghan women and girls. They are more informed, better educated and bold in educating fellow women of their rights. Thanks to the More revolution, to date, through technology, what had protected power against women is no longer working as the women are more connected with the world than before.

Fond memories of girls and women and how far they have come will always be dear to my heart.  Indeed, technology has contributed greatly in the strides they have made to overcome their social, economic, and religious and cultures to be who they are today and much more in future. Technology has helped them become a force in their country’s development.  They are participants and not stand-by second class participants and also leaders in a country where they were once dominated.  I am so proud to have been a part of this great time, to witness first-hand how technology, especially the internet and social media improved the quality of life for the women and girls of Afghanistan.