Anupama writes a letter to her 18-years old daughter. Read what she has to say.
Smartphones can be a very useful tool today; the sheer reach of this tiny handheld computer can make life so much better, empowering women in many ways.
Women – almost one half of the world’s human population.
Women – still considered the second citizen and denied their rights.
Women – still marching ahead, bold and confident, fighting for their legitimate fundamental rights as an equal human, claiming their due place in society.
And technology has risen to support women in their march.
Today a large number of women own smartphones; they may be inexpensive models with basic features or they may be the latest high end phones with ultra cool features and specifications, but they are helping empower women in a huge way.
Smartphones have proven to be a boon for the always-on-the-move working women who have to keep tabs on their personal and professional lives; they also provide multiple options to stay-at-home women for work, pursuing studies and hobbies, getting information as well as entertainment.
It’s a fact that most women were, to a large extent, denied access to technology especially computers. Even if the family owned a computer its use was restricted to men and children, who claimed it for their professional work and studies, as well as for playing games, watching movies or videos. It was never considered necessary to teach women how to use a computer because they were never considered to be capable of using technology. Women themselves would feel intimidated by the sight of a humongous computer or laptop. They would rather rely on television, newspapers and magazines for their daily dose of news, information and entertainment.
Smartphones have changed the perception that technology is beyond the capabilities of mere mortals called women. Step-by-step instructions in an easy-to-follow language makes it easy for even a non-tech savvy person to operate a smartphone.
With most government departments and bank services getting digitized it has become easier for women to access them. They now keep track of their finances through online banking and also get the benefit of various government schemes and subsidies directly in their bank accounts through just a phone number which is linked to their Aadhar card number.
With the privacy that a smartphone provides to women, they feel confident and secure in seeking medical and legal advice and even file complaints online, right from their phone. And the best thing is that if they choose to not reveal their identity they can remain anonymous.
They also get to bond with many like minded women through friendships forged over the internet.
Whether it is reading and writing groups, cookery, gardening or craft, science and technology, social sector or any other sphere many of us have formed friendship with people from across the world.
Even I have found sisterhood in so many bloggers and writers in the USA, Canada, Australia besides a horde of them in India, all because of our common love for reading and writing. And it gives me immense pleasure as a writer/poet when complete strangers, and even renowned people with a huge number of followers like and retweet my poems that I sometimes share on my twitter account.
Even older women have taken to smartphones like fish to water and now the entire world is literally in their hands. They are learning to write emails, play games, make videos and get better acquainted with the happenings not only around their locality and city but around the world too. They read e-books, watch youtube videos and movies on their phones according to their choice and convenience without even having to step out of the comfort of their home.
My own septuagenarian mother started using smartphone 3-4 years ago but she’s fairly proficient in using it for her daily dose of reading, sharing pictures and messages and entertainment. She is now connected with her former colleagues, students and friends through Facebook and WhatsApp. And yes, she takes some pretty good selfies too.
Not only the urban women, but rural women are also employing smartphone to empower themselves.
Women’s self-help groups have created WhatsApp groups to maintain a transparent and organized system of functioning and accounting, sharing pictures of new designs for handicrafts and keeping the members updated about the new innovations and techniques. Young girls in rural areas use smartphones to access study material, search for career options and even apply for jobs.
Getting groceries, garments, veggies and even medicines delivered at home is a matter of touching a few buttons on the keyboard. Proliferation of online shopping sites gives them multiple options to buy anything from anywhere and also save a lot of money in the bargain. A smartphone brings a virtual market in their hands.
Paying grocery, electricity, water bills and booking travel and movie tickets, hotels etc has become a matter of minutes with a smartphone.
Multiple WhatsApp groups facilitate women in keeping up-to-date with their children’s school activities and exams, sharing information about homework; keeping in touch with their own friends and relatives, sharing videos and photos and generally making merry with jokes and good morning messages…it’s very much like they are sitting with friends in person and chit-chatting.
Smartphones have given birth to many new business ideas and women are creating WhatsApp groups to sell not only homemade and readymade products but also services. Some of them have tasted great success by associating as sellers with big e-selling companies.
Tuition and hobby classes, mehndi designers as well as beauty consultants advertise and run their businesses through their own websites and Facebook pages also.
Smartphones now come with a lot of pre-installed safety apps and buttons which ensure quick help in case women need them. The ease of booking a radio cab at the click of a few buttons helps women go out with more confidence since the cabs are GPS controlled and relatively safe. Once the woman shares her location with a friend or relative their movement can be tracked online too.
And I must share here my own experience of how I began to use technology that was always in my hands but I was hesitating in using it.
Around four years ago, I was to catch a flight to Hyderabad where my daughter was working as a software engineer. I took a taxi two and a half hours before flight time keeping 45 minutes for travel time and a buffer of half an hour for traffic delays. I was hardly ten minutes away from the airport when the taxi driver missed a turn and kept driving towards Gurgaon (now Gurugram).
Now-a-days the expressways doesn’t have road cuts for long distances so he couldn’t even take a U-turn anywhere. To cut the long story short, I could manage to reach the airport only fifteen minutes before the flight was scheduled to take off and by that time boarding had been closed.
Now please understand that I had a smartphone but didn’t care to use Google maps for navigation and found it difficult to book radio cabs like Ola and Uber because of my fear in making online payments. That day my carelessness in depending upon the taxi driver and my foolishness in not realizing the power of a smartphone not only cost me a hefty amount in buying a new ticket for the next flight but it taught me a big lesson too. To never underestimate my smartphone as a calling device only. From that eventful day I make it a point to use navigation on my phone while traveling alone. This practice has not only increased my mobility but also given my family members more confidence about my safety.
Many women have revived their love for writing and satisfy their creative urge with this small handheld gadget called smartphone. They now participate in various writing contests and win awards too.
Family and children’s videos have made many women internet stars. Many of the enterprising ones have started their own Youtube channels to promote their talent in cooking, gardening, party games, craft work, singing etc.
A smartphone is the most important tool in the hands of socially aware women. Even a less educated women can become a citizen reporter by clicking pictures and making videos to highlight civic problems and report acts of crime.
Smartphones may be a boon for women but have they really help change their outlook to social issues? Many women are still caught up in the trap of social mores despite reading about how the society is evolving in its outlook towards the status and role of women.
Besides this, many women become addicted to their smartphones, and keep wasting time in forwarding inane messages, sharing ‘jokes’ and videos to multiple groups.
Lure of ‘likes’ and ‘hits’ tempts them for constant check-ins, taking selfies and sharing them across social media accounts several times in a day. This also jeopardizes their safety not only in the physical world but also in the virtual world.
Every good thing has its pros and cons and smartphones are not an exception. They must be used with caution so as to derive maximum benefit of technology but not to put yourself and your loved ones at risk for a few moments of fame.
A version of this was first published here.
Image source: YouTube/ Shutterstock
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Curious about anything and everything. Proud to be born a woman. Spiritual, not religious. Blogger,
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