MEGAFON. Let your voice be heard...
Here, at The Management Centre of the Mediterranean (MC-Med) and Centre for Social and Economic Change (CESEC), we are strongly passionate about strengthening the capacities of civil society.
Based on our successful gender projects, which include ENGAGE: Do Your Part for Peace as well as the current WAP-HR, we have identified, based on their own response, that rural women lack substantial access to information surrounding their own rights as well as resources surrounding the topic of peace and reconciliation, for example. Furthermore, the gap that exists between old and young rural women, as well as the rural and urban demographics, appears to be widening and in order to strengthen and provide empowerment to rural women across all age groups, the gap needs to be closed. Not only in Cyprus but globally also, there is a digital gap between rural women and the use of technology, in a world which is centered on the use of the world wide web and various other technological forms. Digital technology however, holds the key to opening new avenues and possibilities for society with regards to education, communication and information sharing.
As a result of this, that is why MC-Med and CESEC have developed an innovative and inspiring new way of bridging together the gaps that exist between rural women and digital technology, in order to promote dialogue and conflict resolution. Designed to fit in around our current WAP-HR project, we propose the development of an online, collaborative network platform, designed for the use of women of all ages. The online portal shall primarily be:
- 1. Accessible for women of all ages (young and old)
- 2. User-friendly (through the use of an interactive, virtual map of Cyprus)
- 3. Source of information-sharing (women can access information regarding their rights)
- 4. Source of local media (through the use of videos to raise awareness)
- 5. Social (built around solidifying bi-communal friendships)
The online portal to be named MEGAFON shall be a creative and safe digital environment for women to express their views and contribute their opinions towards the issues that affect their villages. A key feature of the platform will be the interactive, virtual map of Cyprus, which will form as the main homepage for users. The map shall highlight users and issues that have been flagged by women on the map, who have identified an issue or topic they would like to further discuss openly. Users are encouraged to upload videos of themselves raising their issue or topic (or perhaps an audio recording), whereby the process can be more interactive and grounded in everyday reality. Once a user has identified an issue, by clicking on the pin it will direct to a forum discussion, where women shall be able to safely explore and discuss this topic further. Women from all age groups and backgrounds shall be encouraged to join (free of charge) the site, in order to access information surrounding the issues identified from project feedback as well as collaborate and share resources between and amongst themselves. Thereby, the generation gap shall also be reduced as it is hoped that the older generations can learn from the younger generation and vice versa. Added to this, it is envisaged that wider links shall be solidified between women from different villages, in order to strengthen and mobilise rural women together, something which is not possible in their current situation. Through this, the promotion of events and activities can be uploaded to the portal, which provides women a chance to acknowledge what is happening around them.
The use of the virtual map and videos provide women with a new means to actively speak up about the issues they are facing, what they are learning and what needs to be done. These videos uploaded by the women themselves, can also have the potential to be easily shared through other various digital social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. We aim for our creative online platform to contribute towards a holistic and united Cyprus built around information sharing, networking and capacity-building for women. If the trial run proves to be a success in our six chosen rural villages, it is envisioned that the site can be developed and rolled-out across further areas of Cyprus through extensive advertisement, campaigns to promote MEGAFON and word of mouth, coming from the women who use it themselves. Civil Society Organisations and local municipalities shall also be encouraged to create a profile for the site, where they can see what common issues are being raised. It shall be hoped that a Women’s Association for several districts across Cyprus will be able to act as administrators to the portal, where they can approve and assess the content of the issues being raised. This innovative use of an interactive, virtual Cyprus map shall allow women all across the country (young and old, rural or urban) to be granted the opportunity to actively promote dialogue and discussion, contributing towards the on-going bi-communal efforts of the island.