Exploring Digital Literacy as an essential tool for empowering women and girls with disabilities.
Recorded Tuesday August 25, 2020
Full Audio-Text Transcription
Hi, I am Lizzie Kiama, welcome to PAZA! Conversations with women with disabilities globally. PAZA! a Swahili word meaning to amplify is an initiative by This-Ability Trust. PAZA! seeks documenting and creating visibility for the experiences of women and girls with disabilities
Join our conversation on Twitter @pazapodcast, you can also follow This-Ability of Twitter an Instagram @this_ability_ ke and on Facebook @thisability.ke.
Now, let’s get into today’s topic of discussion.
Lizzie: What do you girls feel about digitaldada?
Martha: I think it’s a really good campaign to be able to show young women who are entering into the digital space and learning all these new skills, and they’re able to use them to better their lives. And they’re able to use them to do things that they didn’t think they were able to do. And for others to see that this is someone who did not have this skill but when they were given us to be able to do something really big with their lives.
Lizzie: Okay, we will go round.
Lizzie: Jacinta, are you proud to be a digital dada?
Jacinta: Yes, of course.
Lizzie: Veronica, are you proud to be a digital dada?
Lizzie: Martha, are you proud to be a digital dada?
Martha: Yes, I am proud to be a digital dada.
Lizzie: Jacinta, do you want to just introduce yourself, tell us who you are, your name?
Jacinta: I am Jacinta Odima, I am woman living with a disability. I am passionate about empowering women and girls specifically women with disability and # I advocate inclusion.
Veronica: Okay, I am Veronica Akinyi. I am a proud person living with a disability. And I am passionate about helping the elderly so much especially those who have gone through an accident, I actually have passion for them because I’ve gone through that I know how it’s like.
And yeah, I am a proud digital dada.
Maryanne: I am Maryanne, I am a mentor, I also advocate for persons with a disability but sana sana youth and because youth are the left behind kwa mambo ya empowerment, skills na pia job opportunities kama zile job za mtaani. Yes, and I’m very proud the way I am, nimejikubali vile mimi tu niko and I can say many changes have come into my life na nina tamani kama other people like me to experience those things because they are good. Yes, #digitaldada
Martha: My name is Martha Nzomo, I have albinism and I am proud to have albinism. I have accepted my condition and I love skin that I am in. I am also very passionate about advocacy. Of late I’ve been doing a lot of advocacy and education on albinism. And at the moment, in that organization I’m interning with we are doing a lot in the digital space. And it’s sort of coincides with what I am learning in the digital marketing classes. And I’m really enjoying being able to learn and then come in apply in the work place. And yes, I’m a proud #digitaldada.
Lizzie: So this particular episode of the podcast is focusing on digital literacy. Thank you for coming. And thank you for making time to speak with us. And I just wanted to for us to look at probably our backgrounds before we started this program, in terms of how we accessed technology, if we accessed it. How we use social media what challenges we have? First of all on social media, which platforms are we on? Why we are on this particular platform as opposed to the other platform, are there issues around accessibility for women with disabilities, given different disability types? How accessible is the internet in your from your homes because now with Corona, everyone is doing everything from home so it’s not like you can see you can go into the CBD or you know, or go to a place where there is better internet. So in from home from the convenience of your homes, because also our eLearning platform, one of the selling points is that you can access the E learning platform from the comfort of your home. So how realistic is it you know? And what challenges are there also in our education system? Does it equip us as young women with disabilities to ensure that we are successful? When we finish school, and now we want to look for jobs, you know, what skills do employers look for? And do this, the schools that we went to, are they do they offer those skills? When you go to when you want to find work in you, you’re looking for work in the private sector? What skills are necessary to thrive in that environment versus maybe working in the community or working with a nonprofit? You know, is there a difference in skills? And are we do we feel like we are equipped? And then also going to some of your recommendations, what do we think can be done to increase uptake of technology amongst young people with disabilities and what can government do? So in a nutshell, we just want to have conversations around that.
Yeah. Does that feel okay? And if there’s something you feel that we should be discussing, please as always feel free to let me know and add and I’m sure all of you are happy to do that, sawa sawa?
So how actively do you use technology? And in no order please just feel free.
Jacinta: All the time.
Lizzie: All the time, okay.
Veronica: Any time I’m free.
Lizzie: Okay. Yes. How do you use it?
Veronica: I use it mostly for…my like LinkedIn I use for jobs, Facebook I use it for selling.
Lizzie: What do you sell on Facebook?
Veronica: I work for a car financing company, so I look for clients there.
Lizzie: Okay, okay.
Jacinta: On my end I use my mobile phone mostly for learning and then WhatsApp for chatting. I also use the social media, Facebook mostly for advocacy and also if I want to know what is trending.
Like, recently I’ve been focusing more on amputees. And then how do you how do you cope after you’ve lost something that you had? And how to come out from that? Yeah. And also how to the process for this the beginning stages of acquiring a prosthesis to the final stage, I like that part, so I like sharing mostly. And then also I use Twitter and I use LinkedIn for looking for a job, but that site you look for professional and mature people.
Lizzie: So, ok. So where are the immature ones?
Lizzie: And TikTok?
Jacinta: I don’t like TikTok.
Martha: I take offence in that.
Jacinta: Really? I am sorry for that. So those are the areas in social media I am mostly use.
Lizzie: Why do you take offence?
Martha: Because I love TikTok. It is so fun. Honestly you will go into TikTok and it will be morning and you will not regret not having slept because you had so much fun on TikTok.
Lizzie: Okay, what happens on TikTok?
Martha: They are videos, mostly videos, people dancing or funny cats and dogs. And you’ll just be laughing the whole time. And I’ve actually been able to get in touch with many people with albinism through TikTok who live around the world. Yes, because you can use hashtags. So if you just search #albinism I will find all these videos of different people with albinism explaining their condition or just making funny videos that if you had albinism you would understand but if you don’t you’ll be like “oh my gosh, that is so mean”.
Yes, it is pretty fun. Yes.
Lizzie: Maryanne, do you want to TikTok? Are you on TikTok?
Maryanne: Kidogo tu, I am still…
Lizzie: So, which platforms are you in?
Maryanne: I am on Facebook, but niliingia juzi juzi tu, I am still a new member. But still imesaidia sana because I got a job at Kenya Charity Sweepstake and lot of links…so I share links on Instagram, Facebook so people can see what they are doing the community.
Lizzie: And how easy is it for you guys to use technology, internet, social media, mobile phones?
Veronica: Bundles, aaaii?
Lizzie: So affordability is an issue?
Veronica: It’s so hard but we are trying.
Lizzie: So, it is expensive?
Veronica & Maryanne: So expensive.
Veronica: Kwanza saa hii, everyone is at home so the network is extremely slow.
Lizzie: So not only it is expensive but also the quality is also not the best.
Okay, so what do you do?
Veronica: You just survive with what is available. Everything is so slow, you are supposed to finish your work within one hour, but can take another one hour to finish it. Your boss will be like…? You have to explain why.
Lizzie: Yeah, well, and for the streaming of the video.
Martha: For me, I see I’m very privileged. I live with my sister and she works a lot from home, so she just pays the WiFi. So I’m able to use that WiFi. I am also able to work from home most of the time. And so for us, we just thought that it would be easier if we get WiFi because it is more reliable, we will both be able to finish our work, meet our deadlines on time. Yes, it is costly, but when we consider purchasing bundles, if you look at the costs per month of what you use on WiFi versus what you will use personally when you buy bundles on your phone, it is much more sort of cheaper. Yes, in the long run.
Lizzie: Both of you said, Veronika and Martha, you said you work from home and you use the internet to work from home. When did you start working from home?
Veronica: Since early April.
Lizzie: So based on Corona?
Lizzie: And were you able to go through a training in order to comfortably do the work?
Veronica: No. As per the trainings have received previously, including that at This-Ability, I had much knowledge on that.
Lizzie: So this training happened after high school or also in school?
Lizzie: So do you think our education system is equipped to handle the needs of today’s employers?
Lizzie: Would you say today’s employers are requiring people to be more technologically knowledgeable?
Veronica: For example of me, I am doing sales and marketing right now but in campus I studied education. So you see…as long as you’re passionate about what you’re doing, go for it.
Lizzie: And so that passion, is passion enough or do you have to take it upon yourself to learn these skills?
Veronica: Passion. But you see these education system, they want you when, I was a Jab student, so when you’re a jab student there is a class they need you to take
Lizzie: What is Jab?
Veronica: Jab? Jab means you are a government sponsored student. So, when you are a Jab student, they need you to get a certain cluster points ndio ufanye ile course unataka. So my cluster points could not reach my passionate profession.
Lizzie: Which was what?
Veronica: Business. Anything business. So I had to take education. So hiyo karatasi nime iweka tu.
Lizzie: So you finished campus and you started doing trainings on business and sales, okay. And you, Martha?
Martha: So for me, I was working from home even before Corona. I studied finance and most of the things I do in the organization I’m interning for are to do with finance and we usually use a software, and the software is, of course, on the computer. So if I just have a laptop with me and I have either it’s the receipts that I need to input their numbers or any to create requisitions I can do all that on the computer.
And no, I didn’t actually save this training from school, which was actually disappointing because I did a whole degree program and nothing that I am doing right now was ever spoken about in school, at all, I had to learn all this on the job.
Lizzie: Okay, Maryanne, Jacinta, what are your feelings about the education system and how it ensures young people are ready for the workplace.
Jacinta: I think the education system in Kenya, for now, is not helping because what the employer is looking for is more than what you’ve learned. For example, if let’s say I have done administration, the employer will not only look at the administration itself, because like you see right now we have the new technology. So we have to be good in ICT, to know more about ICT. And also most of the jobs that are coming up right now they’re not focusing on the books. They’re focusing on the talents and the skills that you have.
Lizzie: So what do you know is happening in your different communities to ensure that either young people with disabilities, for example, you say you’re interning, is there anything you guys are specifically doing? Or do you know of other organizations that are specifically apart from disability and our hashtag?
Because we also have to point out the different resources that are out there for other people with disabilities, do you know of any?
Jacinta: In terms of entrepreneurship?
Lizzie: In terms of entrepreneurship, in terms of increasing technology, digital skill, in terms of advocacy, because technology can be applied across board.
Martha: So as I work with the consumer called Positive Exposure Kenya, we do advocacy and education for people with albinism. In the past, we will have physical meetings to teach this young parents about what albinism is, how to raise a child and the needs that they have, but because of Corona, we cannot have this public gatherings. And so what we decided to do, we had been thinking about it in the past, but decided to speed up the process. And we were thinking of creating an app, which is called Albinism and I, where parents or young people with albinism or anyone in the community can just log in and get all this information from an app on your phone. So we do not have to physically go to Machakos or Nyeri. If you can download the application, you just get all the information there from the application. And something else that we’ll be doing with the application is linking people with albinism in specific and service providers – so these are people who provide prescription glasses, or people who provide them with dermalogical care because of the sun and people who can be able to link them with sunscreen, and protective clothing because these are the main needs that people with albinism have. So yeah, that’s one of the things we’ve been doing.
And we’ve also been doing skills training. So when Corona first came we taught a few women how to make masks. And this was something that they come to the office for, we have the sewing machines in the office. So we taught them and now they’re able to just come in the office make the masks, either for their own families or if they are planning to sell them, and then they can be able to earn money. So they don’t come in asking for money because we don’t have food. And are they able to earn on their own? We also taught them how to meet ponchos and scarves, so they can be able to sell.
Lizzie: Where do they sell?
Martha: In their communities, but now through the application, we also have an eShop. So that was also something that we added on the application. Because nowadays people are buying everything online, so they can advertise that and just sell on the app.
Lizzie: You are listening to PAZA Episode 6: Conversations with women and girls with disabilities globally. Today, we are exploring digital literacy as an essential tool for economic empowerment. We are taking a short break to highlight our partners who support our work on digital literacy. Remember to follow our #digitaldada campaign on Twitter and Facebook.
Partnership Appreciation – UNFPA and Global Fund for Women
Martha: Hi, my name is Martin Nzomo and I am a digital dada. Lack of data on women and girls with disabilities perpetuates their invisibility and lack of representation in Kenya. This-Ability Trust thanks her partners UNFPA and Global Fund for Women for their support on our work to increase data collection among women and girls with disabilities using technology.
This message is approved by This-Ability Trust.
(END OF MUSIC) End of Interlude
Lizzie: Welcome back. You’re listening to PAZA: Conversations with women and girls with disabilities globally. This is Episode 6: Exploring digital literacy as an essential tool for economic empowerment.
So for you, Veronica, you mentioned that you did a degree in education. So your passion was in business and sales, and you did not get any skills from school, any digital skills, they did not train you or equip you. And you had to-
Veronica: Look for it myself.
Lizzie: You had to find these skills for yourself. And the same for you, Martha. You did a degree in finance, but unfortunately, your words you are disappointed.
Martha; Yes. Yes, I was.
Lizzie: That your school was not able also to provide you with the necessary skills to allow you to thrive.
Martha: Yes, the skills that were needed in the job market.
Lizzie: So what do we think these skills are? What do you think employers are looking for?
Veronica: We are in the 21st century and that means, ukitoka campus you need to have anything in ICT. Basically, you must be well equipped. Even if you are a teacher like me, you must be way up. So if they can introduce that in training colleges or universities, employability will be just fine.
Lizzie: What about you?
Martha: Well, for me, I talk about the finance, financial world, basically. So when you’re in school, you’re taught how to do things physically, like balancing a cheque book, you’re taught how to do it in writing, but when you go out there and you’re looking for a job, that are various softwares that organizations use, they don’t do this manually. And they ask you do you know how to use them? Or do you know to use QuickBooks? And they are like, you have a degree how do you now not know how to use them? Do you know SPSS? And you have no idea and what that stands for. And so now you have to start from scratch, they have to teach you, or you have to go online and search for it yourself and have to learn as you’re practicing. So those are the type of things that they need to teach not just theory, but the practical in the digital space, because many things are now digitalized. Yeah, you don’t keep files physically. You do it in a digital technological way to transfer these files and these are things that we are not taught in school.
Lizzie: So if you’re not taught in school and school is where young people go to get this knowledge so that they are successful after high school, whether it is in self-employment or you know, employment, where else can people go? Do you know, where young people can go to get this information, the skills?
Martha: I think of late there has been a rise in online learning. Many people are going to Google to look for places where they can learn these skills online. For example, this organization called Allison, they offer courses in basically everything and they are free of charge. Unfortunately, you can’t verify whether the information is credible. That is the one thing that is unfortunate, because yes, you will learn it, but you’re not sure that you’re learning it as per what the organization is going to be asking or requiring from you. But I think that’s one of the places where people go to look for skills, online learning.
Lizzie: So if you’re in the rural areas ama mashinani because young people are not only urban areas they also mashinani, where do they go?
Veronica: Do they even know if they if that platform exists? Let’s start from there.
Lizzie: Na mukienda ushago, is there internet?
Maryanne: It’s so hard.
Jacinta: No. Besides the internet, even the electricity. Yeah, and when you say like to use your phone, you won’t use it because sometimes you have to charge your phone very far…in the market.
Jacinta: So I think online, it doesn’t work. And then also I think the most thing that employers are looking for is the soft skills. The soft skills we don’t get them in school. Nowadays they look at, yes you have the knowledge, but how you present yourself is the one that matters. You have like, when you are going for an interview, do you have that confidence that you’re able to do that work? Let’s say, for example, you’ve done education, and you’ve done other trainings like in digital marketing, the presentation that we present ourselves to the employer is the one that matters; it will it either help you get that job or you will not get that job. So sometimes we might have this skills but mostly what they’re looking for these days is the soft skills. Are you able to present yourself? And are you able to do your work well? This is lacking. And this you don’t get them in some schools?
Lizzie: So is this the role of school or is it something that should happen after school?
Jacinta: Parenting, that differs for each and every person, how to raise their children, but with the society that we are in and the technology, how you discipline or how you teach them to be really matters because mostly in the world, they are focusing on the talent, what this child they can do better, and what they cannot do better. And I think in Africa, we are yet to understand. Because you find, as parents, sometimes we force our children to do what they know they are not good at. You find we’re told we’re supposed to become a doctor. And yet you want to become an engineer? And maybe you are good in music. And to them that one is not a job. So the way we raise them matters or not?
Lizzie: So we do have a role to play. So back to this question of mashinani…so Veronica, you said if the youth even know these platform exists? Facebook, TikTok…
Veronica: That one they know.
Jacinta: Most of them have smart phones.
Lizzie: How can we ensure that more young people especially those with disabilities, in in the rural areas have access to internet, when we are saying that even Safaricom is limited, even electricity is not available everywhere. What can be done?
Martha: We can take such forums to them, because we cannot give it to them digitally.
Lizzie: Okay. So, conversations should not only be in Nairobi but should be taken down to mashinani.
And since we are talking about technology that like we have decided it is a good thing. We’ve decided technology is a good thing. But what are some of the disadvantages?
Veronica: Disadvantages? Okay, like my case, I use it to a specifically for selling. So you see like I’ve advertised the car and got a client but the client is like doubting if I’m working for that company. At the same time maybe I might be lying that I work there and I might scam the person. So that’s disadvantage.
Lizzie: Yeah, there are no ways to verify information. Yes. Okay. And actually a lot of propaganda and untruths are spread on social media.
Veronica: And if you find a naïve person, you find that a person can be scammed today, tomorrow, you are just being scammed.
Lizzie: And what are the advantages of technology?
Martha: Having albinism means that I am very short sighted. So sometimes reading a book can be pretty hard. But I have like 1000 eBooks. And I can put it whatever font size I want. And it just it helps me because I love reading a lot. And reading a physical book can be very straining but if I have it on the phone, they’re all these apps that can produce light, blue light filters, and dissolve these night effects that can just reduce that light and I can just read for hours. So for me it’s really convenient.
Lizzie: Now that is an accessibility, the benefits of technology in terms of accessibility. But I think also, for people who have hearing impairments would therefore have the option for captions in videos, it’s a life changing. And also the text to speech for the blind. I think that also offers a unique advantage.
Maryanne: You can say, it’s trying to accommodate everyone.
Lizzie: That’s true. That’s true. Yes. So, you know, we’ve talked about how technology can offer accommodation to different disability types. So do you think, because for a long time children with disabilities have not had equal access to education, so do you think incorporating technology in our education system would be beneficial?
Maryanne: Yeah. And so if there’s a parent who wants to take their child to school, they don’t need to struggle and go to far places. So ita kuwa much easier in every county there’s a high school, primary and high school where anyone with a disability can access that school. Yes.
Lizzie: You are listening to PAZA Episode 6: Conversations with women and girls with disabilities globally. Today we are exploring digital literacy as an essential tool for economic empowerment. We are taking a short break to highlight our partners who support our work on digital literacy. Remember to follow our #digitaldada campaign on Twitter and Facebook.
Partnership Appreciation – VOICE & ForumCiv
Jacinta: Hi, my name is Jacinto Odima. I’m a digital that less than 1% of women with disability in Kenya have gainful employment or stable income due to lack of competitive skills and information in today’s digital economy. This-Ability Trust thank her partners VOICE and ForumCiv for their support on increasing digital literacy among women with disability.
This message is approved by This-Ability Trust.
(END OF MUSIC) End of Interlude
Lizzie: Welcome back. You’re listening to PAZA: Conversations with women and girls with disabilities globally. This is Episode 6: Exploring digital literacy as an essential tool for economic empowerment.
Lizzie: So we’ve talked about a number of things, you know, the realities of accessing technology, the affordability, the accessibility, what skill sets are required when you come out of school, what skills the school system needs to incorporate the rule of parenting? What other recommendations do we have, particularly to our government? What do you think government and also private sector because they’re very few companies that are working in this space, we can think of maybe even in on one hand Safaricom, Airtel, that are working to provide access to internet and mobile technology. And also, you mentioned something about whether we have policies that speak into online protection. So, I think it would be useful to also enter that policy advocacy space from a disability standpoint, because this is a service that can change the lives of young people with disabilities. So what would your recommendations going forward?
Maryanne: I think also the community pia and also those elected leaders, pia wanafa kuwa wana strengthen. They are being elected to do something, so they should also be able to strengthen anything that is happening to the community. People ndio grassroots and leaders ndio…ndio what?
Lizzie: Si hao ndio sauti za grassroots.
Maryanne: Yes, so hao pia ndio wana faa wapeleke support. So the community, the leaders they need to support anything happening in the community. If there are people with disabilities, who need wheelchairs, they are there to support them and they are there to speak out their needs.
Lizzie: And what about technology, specifically?
Maryanne: Technology ina weza saidia sana like you see now there is Corona. So if they can at least have an app whereby wana educate tu watu kama vijana mtaani, persons with disability mambo ya hygiene, mambo ya sexuality. This should be online if you want to access more information.
Jacinta: I think even in the radio station, when you use the radio station mostly when people in the rural areas are able to access. Waki chunga mgombe wana weka radio kwa maskio so they can get the information through the radio.
Lizzie: So important information can be spread through the local radios. Okay. And our leaders have a responsibility?
Jacinta: Yes, yes. And then that we should have equal representation of persons with disability both in communities and in other stakeholders. Because you find out we have the information, but you don’t have people to represent us in terms of representation.
Lizzie: And what specifically would we want these people to be representing persons with disabilities to do?
Jacinta: When you have somebody who has the same experience with you, it’s very easy for this person to present you there. So they should air our views as it is and not to put it the way they know it.
Lizzie: Okay, and when it comes to specific issues around technology, what specific things do we want?
Jacinta: Well, they should we should have like adaptive devices which are able to reach all kinds of disability. They say, for example, if we have the visually impaired, do we have the software that they’re able to use to access information digitally in terms of technology? I think the government or even the other policymakers should come up with and adapt a technology which is convenient and accessible to all persons living with disabilities can be affordable.
Veronica: My recommendation is, I think the government should work in hand with these non-governmental organizations like This-Ability, like when they want to put something in place. Like they have said they are giving out 100,000 wheelchairs, they give the money to the MP; the MP does not know who people with disability are in that area, they will eat that money. But when they work hand in hand with the organization’s they will know how to reach out to those with disabilities.
Martha: So organizations should learn how to communicate with people with disability and not just assume that they need a specific thing. Because this person with a disability has had this disability for quite something. They have changed various things, they know what works for them and what doesn’t work for them. And if you just ask them, they’re always open and willing to just share with you their recommendations, or the assistive technology or devices that would work and help them to be more productive in their work environment.
Maryanne: If you want to help somebody, they should come to that specific person. You know kuna venye unaskia kuna someone somewhere who needs help but you haven’t gone there and see how many need help. So if the money is sent yule mtu ako chini hafikiangi but alikuja na andikwa. So the best way is to work hand in hand with the community.
Martha: One last thing to add. So of late I’ve been going through this assistive technology, online learning session, sort of, and we are various organizations that are trying to create assistive devices that are not just physical, but on the online space. Like the one we’re trying to create awareness, but through online methods, and they’re also trying to so one of the organizations is trying to link up sign language interpreters with children who are deaf. And you know, it doesn’t have to be physical, they can do this online. And so organizations should also look into that, do we have to physically create this product or can we create it in such a way that it will reach more people and it will be more convenient for them. So I’m also as innovators and as young people with disabilities that’s something that we should also think about. As you’re growing up as you’re looking at your community, is there something different that you can do or is there something that you can create that will help with the next generation?
Lizzie: So thank you ladies. I don’t know about you, but I had a very enjoyable time. Thank you for maintaining the energy level despite it being lunch time.
Lizzie: We are very thankful. I hope it was useful. Sawa sawa, so if we call you will come back?
Martha, Veronica, Maryanne & Jacinta: Yes.
Lizzie: Thank you.
Lizzie: I am Lizzie Kiama and you’ve been listening to PAZA! Conversations with women and girls with disabilities globally. You can also follow This-Ability of Twitter an Instagram @this_ability_ ke and on Facebook @thisability.ke.
Join me next month for another stimulating conversation. In the meantime, follow us on Twitter @pazapodcast to continue the conversation on the experiences of women and girls with disabilities. Until next time, stay safe.