Technology Offers Us a Lot of Options for Advocacy-Blessing Timidi Digha-Omolere

If you are very active on the advocacy timelines on Twitter, you may have come across the handle supergirlTimidi. She lends her voice on issues around Sexual Reproductive Health and rights for adolescent girls in and around Africa. Zumalo.com had a chat with Blessing to share insights on how she has utilized technology as a tool for advocacy in Nigeria and even on the global scale.

Hi, may we meet you?

My name is Blessing Timidi Digha-Omolere, I am a Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights advocate with bias for adolescent girls. I am a Feminist, Storyteller, Counsellor, Engineer (Whenever I remember and want to put my certificate to use), Mom and Wife. I work at Planned Girls and African Girl Child Development and Support Initiative while volunteering and supporting other ventures and initiatives; while also looking for bigger challenges.

You have an interesting story in the advocacy domain, can you let us into how you joined the many voices fighting for several issues around the girl child?

My journey into advocacy on issues on the girl child started fully during my experience with teenage pregnancy in 2005 where I started to use myself as an example on the importance of sexuality education to girls, boys and parents. That experience opened my eyes to the Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights issues girls face such as access to information, services, products, stigma, discrimination and the options/choices (some grave) they have to make (during my experience with teenage pregnancy, I explored the options of unsafe abortions twice even though I couldn’t go through with it).  Even though I was involved in advocacy then, volunteering here and there and standing up for ‘injustice’, that experience gave me focus on what area of advocacy I really wanted to go into. Its been a fulfilling though humbling experience, I see my work with adolescent girls as one of my super powers.

 

 

You have used Technology a lot in raising awareness and creating communities around solutions; how much more can we explore tech in ensuring social justice?

Technology offers us a wide option for awareness, advocacy, enlightenment and creating solutions. In ensuring social justice, we can explore technology for storytelling, mappingto enable more participation especially for those living in rural areas or not easy-to-access areas, end isolation, data collection, prediction, projection, follow up and reporting, developing strategies for responding to attacks as they arise, engaging political tech and promoting equality.  All this are possible while  also factoring in digital rights, privacy, freedom of expression,  confidentiality etc

What is your favourite internet platform and why?

Twitter is my favourite internet platform, asides the fact that I earn money from it sometimes, It is a wonderful and engaging platform filled with diverse people which ensures the conversations are engaging, diverse and broad with different perspectives. It is also a good platform for learning (relearning and unlearning), collaborations, news, crowd sourcing and funding, and bringing you close to a lot of people irrespective of their locations.

 

More and more, we are getting to see young people get bullied into doing the wrong things like sending nudes and all; how do we ensure a safer internet for children?

Online hate crimes, harassment, sexual grooming, radicalization,  suicide, bullying of children and teenagers are increasing. Information is key. We need to talk to our kids in clear terms and not just say we expect them to know what to do. Many parents buy phones and give to kids without explanations, setting clear boundaries etc. kids need to know that there are predators out there- either physical, sexual and even cyber and know that they can confide in us if someone makes an awkward request of them either be in the line of sexting, grooming, cyber bullying, threatening, blackmail etc. We also need to create time for our kids, not just abandon them to the mercy of televisions, phones and school that they end up not having any options for confidence, fun and engagement order than us.

The world is evolving and so are the issues that girls face, some issues have remained constant over time, some are emerging. We must evolve in our approach to tackle these issues – Blessing Timidi

What areas do you feel NGOs can explore technology in building better societies?

Many NGOs use technology (insert social media) for updates, tweet meets, campaigns but like I said earlier technology offers us a wide range of options. NGOs can engage technology in the field for data collection and analysis (where people can actually send their data, responses etc. directly than how its done now, It will go along way to reduce double counting), storytelling, mapping, to enable more participation especially of those living in rural areas or not easy-to-access areas, end isolation, data collection, prediction, projection, follow up and reporting, developing strategies for responding to attacks as they arise, engaging political tech and promoting equality.

organized by Stand to end Rape and HACEY at CSW in New York
Blessing Timidi speaking as a panelist at the side event organized by Stand to end Rape and HACEY at CSW in New York

The internet gives us a voice, how best can channel this voice to ensure a better world?

Passing accurate messages across , respecting people and their opinions online while engaging them respectfully, Joining/leading campaigns that contribute towards social good, civil discourse, awareness, policy making, democracy, public pressure to effect a change.

Have you leveraged technology in mobilizing attention towards a cause? Lets get to hear your thoughts.

 

 

 

Opeyemi Olugbemiro

Your tech story amazes me. When you think of a tech innovation that makes life better, you've caught my attention. #SerialOptimist Contact: opeyemi@zumalo.com

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