By: Marian Moraa Mecheo
I have, over the recent years grown fond of social media. It has proved to be a powerful tool in the society on a broad range of issues. Women in particular, have played a huge role through social media in a variety of ways to influence the society both locally and internationally. To be more specific, Kenyan women have used these social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and more as avenues to create awareness and mobilize people on issues that affect the society.
In the last few years, both positive and negative impacts in the economic, entertainment, knowledge and political sector have been observed in Kenya due to the role of women in social media.
Creating awareness on issues affecting women.
They say ignorance has no excuse. Influential Kenyan women on social media have taken advantage to create awareness to fellow women and the society at large about issues affecting women. They talk about issues such as female gender mutilation; Gender based violence, rape, gender equality and so on. Information provided in these sites helps women to relate, understand and learn how to prevent these societal problems from happening.
Moreover, women use social media to air out their experiences in the hope of motivating other women on how to get help. Linah Jebii Kilimo who is an ambassador for women rights is a good example of a woman who has used social media to preach against female circumcision having escaped the “cut”. However, some influential women is social media have managed to change the opinion of fellow women negatively with feminist ideas. I presume that being influential does not necessarily mean one is a good role model.
Promote women entrepreneurship.
Speaking of role models, I have always admired strong women in the world of business. Over the years, women in Kenya have used social media to encourage and exchange business ideas among themselves and overall. Social media is great in helping women to network and interact with others in the same field in order to grow in the entrepreneurial world. Many women are currently self- employed in different fields such as event organizing, beauty, entertainment and so on. Wambui Mukenyi who is a talented designer has effectively used social media to promote her clothing line. As a result she has offered her services to thousands of women as well inspiring upcoming designers and entrepreneurs.
However, on the downside, some women have become lazy due to the belief that they can build online brands.
My friend once said to me “I am quitting school to become an Instagram model!” I am not saying social media brands do not pay off. However, some women take it too far and ignore the priorities of life.
Since social media branding is not everybody’s cup of tea, women politicians in Kenya also play a role in the world of social. They use these accounts to campaign, inform the public about their policies, and play the role of watchdogs and so on.
Social media is an advantage to women who want to air out their political opinions and grievances on the issues affecting the country. Some of the women such as Charity Ngilu who is a well known Kenyan in politics has used social media to her benefit as in campaigning and building her brand. It is unfortunate that some women especially those in politics use social media to incite Kenyans into violence.
I did not focus on the power of social media in Kenyan women until socialites came into the picture. Kenyan women on the social media entertainment scene are on the rise. From musicians, actors, to socialites. These women in their various fields attract the public with their power to entertain the mass.
Talent is showcased through social media, or in some cases even without talent, some women have still found a way to capture the mass’s attention. Socialites in this case fall as a good example. These women dress seductively and portray a luxurious lifestyle in the aim of getting more fans. I don’t consider this as morally correct. Nevertheless it has a huge impact in the society. I can say the advantage of entertaining people through social media has enabled many women in Kenya to have a source of income.
Sharing Knowledge and information
Entertainment would not make sense if work and learning was not involved. There is nothing more pleasant than the power to interact and share useful information. Women in Kenya are very talented and informed on various fields of knowledge.
Social media has played a large role in enabling information sharing. An example is tutorials on YouTube about how to do various things like exercise, make up and cooking. This enables people in general to benefit from all different sectors in society. However, I have had experiences of women who use this opportunity to give false information on social media in the aim to carry out illegal activities like theft. It is always good to be careful about the kind of information you receive online.