By Ratna Golaknath
A little device could become the agent for change. And with more women informed there will be a generation of better informed children with access to more opportunities that before and a chance to succeed on a more equal terms.
I may be sticking my neck out, but I think the smartphone may be the best tool for mothers, women and feminists to change their world. Feminism to me, has a very personal interpretation. Its about having the access, the opportunities and the freedom to live my life irrespective of my gender. It is to celebrate me as a person with strengths and limitation beyond that borne of physical and bio chemical biological factors. It's about defining the identity that I want for myself on my own terms- be it a mom, a home maker, a career woman, an artist, a stock broker, a baker or an athlete.
A few years ago when I became a mom, though on one hand I basked in its glory, on the other I struggled with issues of identity, I felt tremors of self doubt, I questioned myself on the future choices, I missed my old life and I feared that I would lose contact with the world.
It's about defining the identity that I want for myself on my own terms- be it a mom, a home maker, a career woman, an artist, a stock broker, a baker or an athlete.
However, one little device proved more powerful than I had imagined. My faithful smartphone! Before I became a mom, I viewed this device as a necessary evil and used it more for work than anything else. I even tried to make sure I kept my phone on silent and away once I was home. Then I became a mom and this little friend of mine became my aide, my friend, my link to the world, my link to work and my personal confidant.
As a new mom trying to balance a child while breastfeeding and wielding a laptop was impossible but the phone was easily usable.
From checking in on baby centre for colic, to keep a feeding diary to finding home remedies and more. I could easily do it all with one hand and in the short breaks between feeds, burps and diaper changes.
As my son grew, it was easy to quickly catch up on mails and documents while he spent time with himself. Opening the laptop always draws his curiosity but this wonderful smartphone can easily be disguised between pillows and cushions.
Those mid night feeds after which you can't go to sleep became times for reading and writing and general space travels on my phone.
The common thing that changes post-baby is our social life and our opportunities to go out as we did before babies. Like many women, I missed my time with adults and other like-minded people. Thankfully, through social networking sites our phones bridge this gap. So even if I hadn't met people, I knew what was going on in their life. I could see and connect to the world. I could offer them glimpses into my world.
The relationship with the world could stay interactive even if virtual. This is one of the reasons I think the smartphone is a tool for women's empowerment, it ensures that we stay connected with the larger world and stay visible in it.
Motherhood would have been quite an isolating place if we didn't have online groups, websites, and blogs to connect on. This is especially true of city life, where distances, work hours and busy schedules make community networks hard to maintain.
Another power of the smartphone has been convenience. It makes women's lives easy. I could order everything from diapers to vegetables online. I could make money transfers and pay bills from my bedroom. If I had to buy a cot, I could compare and search and have the most competitively priced bed delivered to my door step.
The smartphone to me has been revolutionary in its capacity to literally give you the power at your finger tips. No rebooting, finding chargers, making space on the bed, on the bedside table on the bureau ( since most of my productive hours are when the baby sleeps).
I must confess I am not the technology freak, I don't know every feature and every aspect of my phone but of all the forms of technology I have owned this is one I have most explored. From seeing tutorials on using the various features to messing around and having no choice but to learn more.
All of this just makes me think how the smartphone can significantly change life for women. We already have apps that are geared towards safety ( like the delhi government Himmat app), we have those geared towards pregnancy and healthcare, those towards mobile banking and of course social networking apps. The opportunities for engagement with the world are immense. Every women could have access to information in vernacular languages, she could grow her opportunities, she could be inspired by other women, she could save her own money, she could protect herself against violence, she could be the best version of herself if she knew more!
With India growing to be the second largest smartphone market in the world (after China) one would hope that the 48 percent of women in India will have opportunities to own and learn to use the smartphone. With the government commitment to financial literacy and digital literacy the tide could change. A little device could become the agent for change. And with more women informed there will be a generation of better informed children with access to more opportunities that before and a chance to succeed on a more equal terms. Armed with a smartphone let's change the world!
(Ps: This blog has not been sponsored by any smartphone company or any app. This is just my personal view.)