I’m back to Egypt after participating in the “Women and Work” conference, which was organized on the occasion of international women’s day in Turin, Italy.
Torino, Where I left my heart with…
The magic of the trip started once I saw from the plane’s window – on the way to Turin from Rome – all the fog had vanished and the sky was pretty clear. I must admit it was the best view I have ever had in my life; the Alps from above. Some peaks above the clouds, the others below it, and the crisp snow under a high blue sky.
I always wanted to see the Alps, but never thought will see it this way.
Turin is often referred to as “the Capital of the Alps”
I reached to my hotel, which is located atop a hill in the town close to the Po River on a sunny warm day.
Another magic moment came when I opened the window to see the splendid panorama over the city and the Alps beyond (from Monviso to Monte Rosa), to watch the sun falling down slowly to hide behind the mountain, and all the lights in the valley begin to twinkle.
But next day was completely different as I woke up to find that inches of fresh snow have come down overnight. The wonderland of white mountains and snow-covered fir trees, like an old-fashioned postcard. Those mornings when it feels like the whole world is holding its breath.
On the very same day we started our work by the commitment of the women bloggers from 44 countries who got together from the virtual world to reality thanks to the communications expert Silvia Cambié , to work on a series of recommendations for EU policy makers in the field of women and employment.
Over two days teams of bloggers and students of mixed nationalities worked together with The European Training Foundation (ETF) team as they brainstormed possible solutions to present their suggestions about women in the workplace, which were presented to the invited guests at the Women and Work conference.
The conference aimed to raise public awareness of gender equality challenges in education and employment, and it focused on three themes of transition from school to work, entrepreneurship and social inclusion from a gender perspective.
Public sector organizations and governments need to ensure that people are given opportunities to develop relevant skills for real-life challenges. Teamwork, communication and social media can play an increasingly important role along with the ability to think critically and in innovative ways.
The conference also marked the 100th anniversary of the first international women’s conference held in the labour-movement building in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1910.
Social media is set to change the course of everything, not just media
The new millennium has ushered in a “Connected Age” powered by social media – digital tools such as web sites, cell phones, chat rooms, personal digital assistants, iPods, and other gadgets that are inexpensive and easy-to-use. Unlike last century’s Information Age, power in the Connected Age comes from letting information go, intentionally pushing power to the edges through social networks, and freeing supporters and peers to work side-by-side to develop strategies and organize locally without top-down, command-and-control structures.
We have witnessed how social media tools transformed the way we listen to music through iTunes, report events through blogs and organize locally through online social networking portals. We had a taste of how these tools can change a presidential election.
And now we are bearing witness to how the use of social media can level the playing field for women.
According to a Rapleaf study, while both sexes still use social networking sites in huge numbers, women are the ones holding down the fort.
As you see two of the fastest-growing Web businesses, are any barometers for the future, the Internet is going to look pink. In other words, the future of social media is going to be all about the women.
It’s no shock that men and women act differently online, just as they do in everyday life. Traditionally, men are the early adopters of new technologies. But when it comes to social media, women are at the forefront.
According to the study, young men understand that they can’t spend ALL their time playing video games (though some do), as they need to interact with the opposite sex. Sex is one of the strongest drivers of online usage and many men see social networks as a gateway to potentially filling that desire. Men, in general, tend to look at things more transactionally than women. Once men get married, they see increasingly less value in being on a social network. Which, of course, is why married men dominate LinkedIn – the most transactional social network (with the exception of AdultFriendFinder). LinkedIn is all about getting information and introductions now.
Women, on the other, hand are much more relationship driven and less transactional than men. They spend more time on social networks building relationships, communicating with friends, making new friends, and more. Married women put up pictures of their immediate family on social networks and use their social network profile as a family home page to share with friends and relatives.
Perhaps “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus” got it right. Mars, the god of war, is all about individual glory, so we’ll see sites catering to men become more focused on “me.” Venus, the goddes of love, is all about working with others, and we’ll see social networks cater to women by focusing on “us.”
On the other side, the Arab blogosphere (encompassing blogs written in Arabic, English, and French, as well as a few stray languages) is a complex one. Whether from Morocco or Saudi Arabia, Egypt or Syria, almost every blogger in the Middle East and North Africa is up against censorship, cultural concerns, and the ever-present concern of surveillance.
Nonetheless, blogging has become a solitary platform for free speech in much of the Arab world. Still, for those who do, blogging is a potentially liberating experience.
But according to some researchers who had the help of Arabic-speakers to read and identify the characteristics of 4,000 blogs, the researchers found that more than 60% of the bloggers are men and only 34% are women.
While there are certainly well-known female bloggers discussing issues unique to women, many female bloggers in the Arab world face a unique challenge: to speak out about women’s issues often means going against the grain of family and society.
And you can add on this that there are a lot of women who don’t know the difference between the traditional media and social media, and they need to be trained to use the various tools of social media.
And as one of the participants said: “Social media should come naturally to women. We are networkers, nurturers, gatherers, builders of villages and communicators.”
Women want inspiration and collaboration, support and confidence. They don’t want self-proclaimed social media guru’s pushing them to the sidelines.
With Social Media Women can create a safe place for women to gain experience and confidence to ask questions, learn and challenge themselves to grow, evolve and aspire.
It’s more than just talking about social media tools. It’s about taking a step back and seeing the big picture. It’s about collaboration and nurturing of ideas and creating change from them.
Having recognized the important role women play in social media, I wish that every woman will have a voice in all areas of social media, to connect and share to support each other and build a community.
You can change your life, It all starts with you.
You can examine what isn’t working well, figure out why it isn’t working, and then try to come up with realistic ways to make positive change.
This shouldn’t sound simplistic. It should sound logical. We are so used to giving up our power to be who we believe we can be – who we want to be – and letting others make decisions for us or affect us in negative ways.
Why do we let this happen?
Regardless of the reason any of us are in a situation we don’t want to be in – job, relationship, whatever – we are the fuel to power positive change in our lives.
In order of this try to change the way you split yourself into many different people
instead of being your whole self.
The conference finished with a cup of solid chocolate (Turin is known as the birthplace of solid chocolate. Torino has had a love affair with chocolate for over 300 years), but the journey of learning didn’t finish yet.
So keep on following me….