Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Social Media for Girls: The Potential is Explosive

As part of the Wikiprogress on Gender Equality series, this progblog article by Girl Effect focuses on the power of social media to empower girls in Africa and around the world.

Image courtesy of Girl Effect

Social media is a powerful tool in today's world - it connects people across continents and has affected massive social and cultural change. I believe that for girls in particular, the potential it holds is explosive.
Working as a female entrepreneur in Nigeria, I've been able to see first-hand how using it smartly is one of the best ways to overcome communication barriers.  This week, I'll be at Social Media Week Lagos, discussing how social media has the power to change the lives of adolescent girls. As part of the ' Mobilize! Social Media For Social Change' event hosted by Girl Effect, I'll be debating how tools like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have given Nigerian girls the opportunity to use social media to take part in the global development dialogue.
The importance of social media is clear to me. I'm always using platforms like LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook to make contacts, create links and develop relationships with others. Tools like these expand the communication and engagement I have with those around me, giving me the chance to join the right groups, meet the right people and get my voice out there.
Networking with others on LinkedIn is absolutely crucial in my professional life - it gives me the chance to reach out to new projects and opportunities, as well as share my experiences with influential professionals. On a more personal level, using Facebook means that I can connect to old classmates, friends and family, plus keep them up to date with what's going on in my life on a regular basis.
The same benefits apply to girls, as there are huge opportunities available to them as a result of using social media.
Social media should not just be seen as social networking and having fun. It is fun, but there's also an art to getting it right, and I think it's important that girls discover how they can make their communication with the wider world successful. When used effectively, social media gives them a voice, helps create noise around a cause and brings both local and global attention to issues that matter to them.
An example of how this can be done is the youth social media advocacy campaign I am championing, which uses social media to educate, inform and empower young girls. With programmes like these, girls can learn how to use social media to their advantage; be it to further their career, meet influential business people or simply have their voice heard - learning these skills is vital to them.
Social media is also cheaper - a lot cheaper - than the alternatives. You can reach 1,000 people through the power of social media for a fraction of the cost that you can through television or print. It's also interactive and this two-way relationship is key to the power of social media, and therefore key to the argument for girls using it more.
Through conversations that they can now have with high-level decision makers, NGOs and policy-makers, girls can affect the global agenda for change.
Girls have the potential to be an incredible force in the social media world. By using the technology in the best way possible, they will be able to change their lives and the lives of generations of girls to come.
Follow Girl Effect's session at Social Media Week Lagos using the hash tag #SMWMobilize
To read more articles on Gender Well-being check out our Wikiprogress on Gender Equality Page and we look forward to bringing you more similarly themed articles for the rest of this week.
The Wikiprogress Team 

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