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The modern world is characterized not only by a high degree of technological development and social progress but also by a significant gap between different regions. Consequently, the Global South countries are experiencing problems with the dissemination of ideas of gender equality. The traditional media made it possible to draw attention to various agendas. At the same time, the Internet and social media represent a tool to “create a network of hundreds of thousands of followers and to communicate with them” (Ajibade, 2020, p. 23). However, digital illiteracy, harsh stereotypes, and limited social activism characteristic of less developed countries make it difficult to promote gender equality ideas. There are still some proposals aiming to transform societies in the Global South. The essay discusses initiatives related to press coverage of violence, the role of digital tools in women’s career prospects in less developed countries, and Internet LGBTI activism in Africa. Further, each initiative’s role in transforming the existing situation and promoting ideas of gender equality is considered. The conclusion summarizes the ideas discussed and analyzes the importance of media and ICT in the feminist agenda.
Coverage of Gender-Based Violence in Indian Media
Modern media should inform society about current events, existing issues, and initiatives. However, the Global South countries are characterized by a strong influence of specific political and social groups on the media, which does not allow them to play a leading role in shaping public opinion (Couldry et al., 2018). Nonetheless, Moorti (2018) provides an outstanding example of how journalists’ attention to an episode of sexual violence against women that occurred in December 2012 led to widespread protests for the protection of gender equality. The gang rape proved to be a turning point for India’s feminist agenda, becoming “a site from which media discourses contested people’s anxieties about the shifts in gender roles entailed by globalization processes”(Moorti, 2018, p. 151). The incident was widely reported in the media, which sparked a debate at the state level. People began to discuss the role of modern India’s cultural, religious, and social conditions in the cultivation of gender-based violence.
The media play the role of forming and conveying public opinion, which then impacts society’s life. Thus, the coverage of the gang-rape episode in India was the impulse to adopt important gender justice principles. Mass protests, which occurred due to feminist advocates on social networks, forced the government to regulate the situation at the legislative level. As a result, “the Committee on Amendments to Criminal Law — known colloquially as the Verma Commission — to review existing laws and make suggestions for legal reform “(Moorti, 2018, p. 151). The focus on the issue has led to a broader understanding of sexual violence, which has increased women’s safety and legal rights.
Despite the unequal distribution of the media influence on public opinion in the world, progress still has an impact on the lives of the people of the Global South. Apart from the gang rape, the researcher reports several gender-based violence episodes in India that affected society through media coverage (Kabi & Nayak, 2019). However, it is not enough to describe the events; it is also essential to use networking to exchange views and opinions. The collaboration of media and social networks can bring “dialogue-based solutions partnering affected women in conflict and peace initiatives” (Kabi & Nayak, 2019, p. 341). Thus, public attention to the problems of gender-based violence, their discussion, and massive discontent can provoke changes in the state at the cultural and social level.
For the Global South countries, where the patriarchal tradition dominates, this approach is of particular importance. Women in less developed regions experience an infringement of their rights and freedoms, the inability to make decisions, and receive state protection. For gender issues to begin to take shape in society’s eyes, they must first be communicated. Thus, the media plays, like social networks, a massive role in eliminating cultural prejudices about gender.
Female Career Opportunities in Relation to Digital Tools
A related problem with female violence is women’s pervasive inability in less developed regions to pursue career goals. For example, Mudhai, Musa & Wright (2016) report that in Kenya, “women who have been brave enough to seek political leadership have faced gender-based intimidation and humiliation ” (p. 2). The issue is common not only in public administration but also in entrepreneurship, where women are still more difficult to succeed than men, especially in the Global South countries. Small and medium business development is also leveraging economic growth and poverty reduction. However, women’s entrepreneurship in developing countries is still perceived negatively, as it violates traditional ideas about women’s role in society (Kamberidou, 2020). In the current situation, the development of digital technologies and access to them is also of key importance.
Despite the availability and prevalence of digital tools in Europe, even their women face obstacles to entrepreneurship. Modern technologies make it possible to run a business from home, to communicate effectively with a wide range of people; however, even in such conditions, women’s entrepreneurship is underrepresented (Kamberidou, 2020). Thus, for less developed countries, technology’s inaccessibility is another obstacle to women’s career self-realization. They are concluded within the framework of the traditional idea of the home’s keeper, the caregiver of children.
In addition to the pressures associated with the need to perform a variety of household tasks combined with career ambitions, women also experience gender discrimination in the workplace. For instance, Wangusi & Abuya (2019) report that gender equality initiatives “have a statistically significant influence on the performance of female journalists” (p. 31). Duffy (2015) states that “female media workers regularly confront masculine work environments (the so-called ‘boys club’), sexual harassment and the normalization of the sexual division of labour” (p 2). Thus, the elimination of prejudice regarding women’s careers should be promoted at the organizational and state level. Many researchers argue about the need for legislative changes in the field of female entrepreneurship (Kamberidou, 2020). Such an approach is especially true for the ICT sphere, in which women have traditionally been less significant than men.
As stated earlier, women experience pressure from various quarters, involving a large number of responsibilities and discrimination. However, ICT can help women streamline work times and processes by balancing traditional household chores with new career challenges. Kamberidou (2020) discusses several researches aimed at developing initiatives to support women in digital entrepreneurship. It is noted that through entrepreneurship, most women pursue financial and emotional abstract goals (Kamberidou, 2020). Another study reviewed confirms that digital technologies are the basis for doing business for women; they also often use social networks (Kamberidou, 2020). Thus, women feel the need to implement and acquire aspirational work previously available exclusively to men.
The problem of the spread of the Internet and access to the media in connection with global gender inequality is becoming more and more urgent. For the world’s least developed countries, “Internet growth rates are slowing down despite 85 percent of the population being still offline” (Gurumurty, 2018, p. 196). However, limited access to communication is also characteristic of the Global South’s developed countries with a high degree of social inequality, such as India and Brazil (Gurumurty, 2018). Therefore, the inability to use media and social networks to build a business is a serious obstacle to the development of women’s entrepreneurship in less developed countries. Thus, ITC is a key factor in achieving gender equality, where women can engage in constructive work in the form of entrepreneurship or creative activity and participate in communication with the community.
Women in the Global South are often digitally illiterate and confront gender stereotypes, which does not leave them a possibility for career self-realization. However, one of the social initiatives aimed at changing this situation is Indian women entrepreneurs’ support by Manik Ajay Patwardhan (Kamberidou, 2020). Manik actively provides digital opportunities, technology learning, marketing platforms, financial information, banking advice, and more to other women. Since family support in such countries is of particular importance, such support must help women succeed in business without breaking their family obligations (Kamberidou, 2020). Therefore, Manik helps Indian women develop digital skills while avoiding conflicts between career ambitions and household chores, which positively influences women’s expansion in the business environment.
LGBTI Activism Issue in Africa
The problems of gender inequality and women’s discrimination also include the LGBTI community’s issues, which is especially relevant for the countries of the Global South. Mateveke (2019) emphasizes that western feminism, which also discusses the state of the LGBTI community in Africa, is not suited to characterize the particular social processes on the continent. The emergence of Southern feminism is associated with the adaptation of European activists’ ideas by African women through “insisting on the specificity of their cultures and locations” (Mateveke, 2019, p. 80). Contemporary African feminism does not just theorize problems but seeks ways to solve them, including using and disseminating ICT and media.
Feminist activism is impossible without the active integration of the general public and drawing attention to the problem of gender inequality. Activities of the contemporary philosopher and writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie are an important part of Africa’s gender agenda today (Mateveke, 2019). The continent is characterized not only by a widespread negative and hostile attitude towards members of the LGBTI community but also by a state position to criminalize same-sex relationships. Consequently, activists use various means to combat oppression, including media resources. However, as mentioned earlier, the development of the Internet and social networks in such regions has been slowed down, and access to them is extremely limited. Media resources are also politicized and controlled by the authorities, which does not allow promoting a topical but unpopular agenda in them (Couldry et al., 2018). However, Adachie tries to use both media and digital technologies to be active and promote her ideas. Yet, Adachie has appeared on British television to bring the issue of African feminism to the world and to gain global attention. Thus, using media resources to promote non-traditional opinions and minority rights is difficult on the continent.
There are also activists using social networks like Facebook and Twitter to reach more local audiences and change society in Africa. For instance, transgender women Tatelicious living in Zimbabwe conduct a cultural activity on the Internet, drawing attention to the civil rights of transgender people (Mateveke, 2019). Tatelicious uses provocative campaigning techniques on the Internet, such as song, dance, and nudity, to proclaim the need for civic empowerment and recognition of LGBTI minorities in Africa. She communicates with her audience mainly in the local language, which indicates her followers’ presence in the country (Mateveke, 2019). Thus, using the oppositional opportunities of social networks, Tatelicious is trying to draw Zimbabweans’ attention to the problems of sexual ministries. However, there is an argument regarding the audience of the activist. On the one hand, the greater part of the population, who are the main adherents of discrimination due to their traditions, has no Internet access. On the other hand, it can draw the media and government attention to the problem.
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Digital resources are an essential tool not only for discussing urgent problems but also to develop skills and participate in economic life. Gender inequality in less developed countries forces women to abandon their job aspirations; however, existing local initiatives aim to strike a balance between new needs for career fulfillment and traditional female family responsibilities. Limiting the dissemination of media and ICTs in the Global South countries is a significant challenge for the spread of the feminist agenda. However, through the media of gender injustice and violence, public awareness forces society to demand legal action from the state. Cultural Internet activities, in turn, can have a local impact on the status claims of sexual minorities. Nevertheless, traditions in the Global South still play a dominant role, making it challenging to establish gender equality. However, there is no way to stop progress by which activists can gain more importance.
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