Dr. Mary Pettice
FYS 100: Social Media
10 Dec. 2013
Neema Namadamu-Hero Woman
Many of my previous blog posts have been devoted to this idea of social media being used for social good. I strongly believe that technology has the potential to change the world, but it is up to society to actually make that change. There are many ways in which social media can be used to better society and is even powerful enough to break the digital divide and social barriers. Social activist Neema Namadamu devotes her time, energy and passion to helping women and the disabled “in Eastern Congo, labeled as one of the worst places in the world to be a woman.” (Neema) Modern society enables people to use social media as a way of improving lives all across the globe.
In the words of Neema, “An Activist is simply someone who wants to promote positive change in the spiritual, social, political, economic, or environmental spheres of life. An Activist is someone who has been impacted in heart and conscience about a matter and so a passion has been kindled within them, and they can’t relax until the matter is properly addressed.” (Namadamu) Crippled from polio since the age of two, Neema grew up to found ACOLDEMHA, a non-governmental organization that works to help women with disabilities integrate into society by providing them with jobs. She can speak four languages that include French, Swahili, Lingala and English. In 2011 she founded her own telecommunication company Go Network. Neema says, “My goal is to connect even the rural areas of our country to reach and join the mostly illiterate women to one another, and to programming content created to inform, encourage, and empower them.” (Neema) She was selected as Bureau Chief for the Ministry of Education for Children with Disablities in the South Kivu Province, which contains over 4,000,000 people. She is a supporter of Spark540, an organization that serves to improve lives and defeat gender-based violence One of her greatest accomplishments through social media, however, was the formation of the Maman Shujaa of Congo in 2012. (Neema)
The name “Maman Shujaa” translates to “hero woman” in Swahili, and represents the newfound strength and digital empowerment of women online. The movement began when Neema started to host workshops where women could go to become educated and trained on how to use technology and how it can be used to make social change. World Pulse’s online forum serves as an influential platform where women’s voices can be heard. “For me personally, every conversation is an opportunity to promote right-mindedness for our gender, and especially women with disabilities; whether one on one, or simply joining my one voice to the 50,000 voices of my sisters on World Pulse.” (Neema) Efforts of non-governmental organizations like Maman Shujaa led to the Obama administration assigning a special U.N. representative to the Congo in July. One example of good that has come from online was at a recent World Pulse campaign targeted to eradicate the practice of breast ironing. Breast ironing is a procedure that involves the flattening of young girl’s developing breasts in an effort to decrease the growing rate of teenage pregnancies as well as limit the risk of sexual assault. This cruel practice affects one out of every four girls and is on the rise in the African country of Cameroon. This practice, similar to female circumcision and genital mutilation, can result in various physical deformities as well as psychological problems. On an online petition hosted by World Pulse, 12,000 female activists took a vow to end the practice of breast ironing. It is stories like these that prove what a huge difference people coming together can make.
Last year Neema wrote an article called “Fighting Evil From Inside Hell”, a compelling collection of stories of rape and abuse in communities told by the victims themselves. The purpose was not to get anyone in trouble, but to simply inform the public about the mistreatment of women and shed some light on the darkness and pain many women face each day. The article spread quickly, first airing on radio stations throughout the province, to major websites like World Pulse, a global media and communication network devoted to bringing women a global voice.
In short, social media can be used as a platform for communication by connecting people from thousands of miles away in an instant. The Internet is as a place where no voice goes unheard.
Afzal, Sara. “Digital Connections Empower Women.” Mashable.com. Mashable, 23 Sept. 2013. Web. 11 Dec. 2013.
Jaffe, Rachel. “Digital Activists Are Changing the World.” Rlj003.wordpress.com. WordPress, 23 Sept. 2013. Web. 11 Dec. 2013.
“Neema Namadamu.” Worldpulse.com. World Pulse, n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2013.
Wong, Curtis M. “Teenage Girls Undergo ‘Breast Ironing’ In Cameroon (VIDEO).” TheHuffingtonPost.com. The Huffington Post, 23 July 2010. Web. 11 Dec. 2013.