By Yvonne Manjengwa
Women seem to be facing more challenges than enjoying the benefits of using internet freedoms.
Speaking at a roundtable dialogue meeting today, held at Media Centre under the theme “Women and Internet Freedom in Zimbabwe: Locating challenges, possibilities and strategies for promoting freedom of women online”.
The meeting was attended by various women representatives of different organisations such as Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), This Gown, Activista Zimbabwe, Election Resource Centre (ERC), National Electoral Reform Agenda (NERA), This Gown and Zimbabwe Women in Politics Alliance (ZWIPA) amongst others.
One of the challenges highlighted in the dialogue meeting that hinder women in Zimbabwe to have internet freedom is the issue of patriarchy.
“Patriarchy is hindering internet accessibility amongst women because some men /husbands do not want their wives/women to be participants of any social media platform.” said Epiphania Mazingaizo from ZESN.
Mazingaizo went on to note that some men/husbands assume that being active on social media results in one cheating.
In nowadays many marriages and relationships are collapsing due to social media platforms such as whatsapp, instagram and so on.
“Privacy is also at stake when it comes to issues of internet freedom. Thus most women in Zimbabwe do not even bother to enjoy the benefits offered by the internet because they fear to have their accounts hacked. Hacking is mainly exercised by men it is rare to find a woman hacking another woman’s phone she only succeeds to that with the help of a man”, said Sichelesile Mpofu, from This Gown.
According to Prowdence Mpasi, from E.R.C, cyber bullying is another factor restraining Zimbabwean women from participating on internet.
“The problem is that it is not only men who perpetuate the issue of cyber bullying but also women part take and at the end of the day some women restrict themselves from using internet”, said Mpasi.
Women feel that it is a collective responsibility for all stakeholders to come up to the table and talk about strategies that can be used to amplify women’s internet’s freedoms setting aside each and every stakeholder’s interest .