The spread of false information online affects all of us, but for girls in particular, the impact can be devastating. Girls and young women are disadvantaged in all aspects of their lives by gender inequality, and the spread of lies and false information online only reinforces inequalities and deepens the gender divide.
The scope of it is huge and it’s a part of everyone’s life – even for those who are illiterate. Everyone’s trying to get online, either on Facebook or other digital platforms, but it’s more noticeable among young people, especially the girls.
Although the internet and social media networks are important and even indispensable, they can be a danger if we’re not careful, because everything we do is exposed. Sometimes we’re confronted with harassment, so we really have to be careful when using these tools.
As far as my experience is concerned, I have lived through some things, but they didn’t last long. Someone once created an account under my name and wrote to me threatening to publish pictures of me where I am not veiled. I’ve worn the veil since I was a little girl, so that would expose me.
I did not show him that I was afraid, so after a few days he stopped, and I blocked the account on my contact list. Apart from that, there is always the fear of doing something on the internet that will reflect badly on me in the future. This is what I live with, but others have experienced worse things. We are not safe.
What needs to change is that everyone should respect the personal integrity of others, and we girls should be able to express ourselves freely on issues that affect us, without fear of being judged. For this to happen, everyone needs to have access to the Internet and good quality digital equipment.
In the 21st century, digital technology is indispensable and we have the power to do wonders with it for our development. Through Plan International, we, the young girl activists of Guinea, have a Facebook group called ‘Guinèdime Sembé’ where we can exchange ideas and opinions on many themes.”
Plan International’s global Girls Out Loud project provides girls with safe moderated digital spaces on Facebook where they can learn about their rights and take the lead on discussions about gender issues. In Guinea, the group is called Guinèdime Sembé, an expression which comes from the dialect of Maritime Guinea meaning ‘The Power of the Girl’