I was recently invited by my dear friend and accomplished financial advisor, Leigh Wasson, to attend the Be Your Own Hero Conference , organized by the YetiZen team and Girls in Tech, hosted by Sana Choudary and sponsored by many organizations that support women entrepreneurs and leadership, particularly in the technology industries.
That lively day of discussions and presentations is what prompted me to shine the spotlight here on how technology holds transformative power for women and communities. In particular, smartphones and broadband Internet access is providing unimagined opportunities for disadvantaged populations around the globe and serving to bring women together in ways that are redefining their futures.
A Powerful Change Agent for Women
In the United States, Information & Communication Technology (ICT) defines almost every aspect of our lives; from the way we communicate, socialize, connect, learn, campaign and conduct business. According to Pew Internet Research, 91% of the adult US population owns a cell phone and 60% of women use smart phones. Most women in the United States take access to a phone or the Internet for granted, but in other parts of the world where gender inequality is grave, such a device holds a much greater value and appreciation.
ICT in emerging and developing nations, such as India, Africa, the Philippines, Chile, China and Russia, are giving women the ability to communicate more freely, access educational opportunities and play greater roles as income earners within their families and communities. Not only are ICTs opening up entrepreneurial and economic opportunities, they are also serving directly and indirectly as change agents of whole communities and breaking traditional barriers to women, both at home and in the marketplace.
Women now have access to information, to banking institutions and to collective communication and training such as never allowed before. With more and more younger women using ICTs, working and educating themselves away from home, their abilities to enhance their social mobility and challenge traditional power relations are much greater.
Take a Deeper Dive
If you want to dive deeper into this topic and find out ways to help empower women across the globe, I invite you to watch this Google+ Hangout hosted by an inspiring lineup and organized by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA). It’s not as exciting and fun as the Be Your Own Conference was, but it’s packed with information and introduces people who working hard to support women in business.
One Simple Act You Can Take Now
If you feel aligned with supporting women here in the United States and around the world, one super easy act you can take now is to share this video (and this article!) on your social networks. Short and direct, yet it will make all who see it think twice about using a commonly thrown-around phrase and perhaps chip away at one of our culture’s most pervasive stereotypes. May you do it “like a girl” with pride! Enjoy.