• Her Story: How digital empowers me by Sakshi Sirari

    The internet disembodies oneself. Barriers of time and space are broken and one can travel anywhere they want through the virtual space. Ever since the World Wide Web (www) exploded in the 1990s, the world has changed forever, and the pace of this change is constantly increasing. When surfing through the internet, one gets to become the ‘cyborg’, the hypothetical person whose powers have no physical human limitations.

    Especially for women who are claiming the work space and haven’t been able to shed off much of their domestic responsibilities, the digital revolution has been a blessing. There would hardly be an exception to the fact that women, especially working women, contribute more to the economy through indirect services of domestic work, that enable the other members to participate directly in the economic system. There are mobile applications like Grofers and Big Basket for groceries, which help them take care of everyday domestic requirements. Other applications for clothing, furniture, etc bring the super market to my mobile phone, saving me much of my productive labor time.

    one gets to become the ‘cyborg’, the hypothetical person whose powers have no physical human limitations.

    Not only this, digital technology has also made my mobility in the public spaces much safer. With mobile applications like Safe City, Ziman etc, mapping unsafe spaces has been made possible and with police cooperation, solutions are being looked for to make these mapped spaces safer for women. I don’t feel threatened now if a man teases me, cos ‘if I can’t slap him, I snap him.’ (This was a popular HollaBackNYC social media campaign, where women clicked pictures of eve-teasers and uploaded on social media).

    I have also been able to connect to a lot of like-minded people, highlight and talk about things that are an issue to my life; practices of the social and cultural systems that trouble my choices in life. Like the recent #happytobleed campaign against menstrual taboos, UN’s #16daysofactivism and #orangetheworld campaign to end all violence against women, many campaigns have highlighted critical issues which the mainstream media otherwise trivzializes.

    The digital media also makes me more aware of my rights and standard operating procedures of various government and non-government institutes. Recently, when I was travelling back to the city I work at from my hometown, I faced a situation that may act as an apt anecdote. The in-charge at the luggage department of the Indian railways refused to issue a receipt to me for carrying a dog with me in the coupe’ I was travelling in, saying that the law did not hold anymore. After several repeated persuasions by me, he refused to issue a receipt. I got in the train anyway, since I had followed the standard operating procedure. In the train, the ticket checker saw this as an opportunity to make some money off me and started threatening me to de-board me from the train. I immediately opened the Indian Railways’ website, showing him the act and section (77a)  that allows me to carry a dog, and that I was not carrying a receipt as the luggage in-charge refused to cooperate with me. When he still persisted on me paying him some bribe off the legit discourse, I threatened to call the railway helpline, the number of which I could check online. I saved a lot of money and inconvenience for my dog, which I wouldn’t have known, had the internet not been there.

    There are still some gaps which need to be addressed, like anything else, there is still room for a lot of improvement, and a long time before the digital space reaches saturation point. But yet, being a part of the digital generation has made me much more confident and my options more diverse than the previous generation.