The legions of active mobile phones worldwide is 5 billion strong. Think of it – the world is now linked by telecommunications and social media access giving a new voice to people who were previously mute, providing a medium for social change.
What is currently happening in Egypt is certainly the most recent example. Twitter co-founder Biz Stone said this week that Twitter “gives folks who might not otherwise have a voice a voice.” That’s true. Through Twitter, we can communicate, experience and empathize with those we will never meet. Those who feel disenfranchised have a way to reach out to those who empathize with them.
In fact, social media has given a voice to a new group of dissidents in Egypt that have not been part of the conversation. That group are the women who have experienced the poverty and hardship of men, but also have dealt with sexual harassment and discrimination.
The Egyptian Chronicles, one of Egypt’s most popular blogs, is run by Zeinobia, an anonymous female blogger. “I am just [an] Egyptian girl who lives in the present with the glories of the past and hopes in a better future for herself and for her country,” says her About Me on the blog.
Her sentiments are shared by other Egyptian women who are part of the newfound voice of the people, and their protests have flooded Facebook, Twitter and blogs. “Women’s participation here is unprecedented. I can safely say that the crowd is divided into half female, half male,” said Ms. Nehad Abul Komsan, head of the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights (ECWR).
This new voice has sprung up with blogs, online writers, Twitter and Facebook contributors. The women have shown a willingness to be heard. And their new empowerment cannot be ignored.