Last week, Her Zimbabwe hosted a week-long training to equip young women with skills in blogging and digital security. The five-day training was held in Harare with almost 20 participants from Harare and some as far away as Bulawayo, Gweru and Victoria Falls. The training was designed to reach out to women to help them better understand how they could contribute their voices online through blogging and social media. Participants spent the five days learning the finer points of social media, such as how to use blogging in advocacy work, as well as safer ways to use the internet.
Part of Her Zimbabwe’s mandate is to help facilitate and helping to spread knowledge. Last week’s training was born of the idea that many women are discouraged from participating in online discourse for a variety of reasons. For many women, online activity is often be limited to Facebook or Twitter, and the scope for female voices and participation can be narrow depending on your perspective. Through greater knowledge of online spaces, including the how’s and why’s of blogging, the hope was to empower women and allow them to claim and create their own platforms online.
Blogging was covered extensively in the training. Participants learned how to start a blog, finding their voices as a writer and their responsibility as writers creating online content. The digital security element of the training was added to also guide women on how to browse online safely. Digital security skills are often underrated and are absolutely essential. Some of the skills learnt included anonymity online, password protection and permanent deletion of information on computers.
“We want to empower young women to have a voice,” explained Her Zimbabwe trainer, Natasha Msonza. “The kind of writing you do online can be described as blogging to an extent. And when you empower people to write online, you have to let them know that there are possible dangers and repercussions”.
“We realised that a lot of women are discouraged from participating online because of bullying and trolling,” she added. “We wanted to teach them productive ways to use the internet and share their views.”
The participants hailed from all walks of life, and their ages ranged from 20 to the oldest participant, 50-year-old Lynette Regede who works in the corporate world, but had signed up for the training on her own initiative.
“What this workshop has done is expose me to another space that I didn’t know in real life,’ said Regede. “We were taught to do a blog yesterday and so I said to myself, ‘Now Lynette you can do this now!’ Blogging will give me a bigger audience.”
“I loved the fact that it was really flexible because you got the technical skills but then you also got to have some really interesting conversations and I think actually that’s what I enjoyed the most,” said 22 year-old freelance writer and law student, Anthea Taderera. “And these are the types of conversations you are able to have in a safe space and tap into other people’s brains, finding out what they think about stuff.”
Her Zimbabwe regularly holds trainings and workshops to help empower and develop women. Watch out for the next one coming soon.
Some photos from the workshop:
Photographs are the property of Fungai Machirori and Vimbai Midzi.