How the internet helps me make informed choices

Ilwad making a presentation on the Internet of Things to her fellow Bloggers in the UNICEF Djibouti Conference Room.

We live in a world that is awash with information, some of which can build us and some that can destroy us in just a click of a button. Access to the Internet is increasing worldwide. Between 2000 and 2015, global Internet penetration grew seven-fold from 6.5 percent to 43 percent. Yet millions of people still lack access to quality, credible information. In some instances, this lack of information can be life-threatening; in others it constrains social and economic growth.

For a couple of months through Union National des Femmes Djiboutian (UNFD) I have been part of its online Life skills Programme which aims to reach young people, with sexual health information as well as strengthen young peoples' communication, negotiation and decision-making skills so that they are able to make safe choices related to their sexual health and associated risk behaviors.

This programme, in addition to UNICEF Djibouti’s Blogging internship which trains youth in digital storytelling including blog-writing, photography, film and generating social media content, has completely changed my world view and how I interact with other peers.

I have realized that no one is responsible for my own choices or life, that for my tomorrow to be better and brighter is my sole responsibility. Through the Blogging internship I have had access to other youth’s perspectives on making the right choices in life and with the global village, the phenomenon of the world becoming more interconnected as the result of the propagation of media technologies throughout the world I have interacted with other young people who share the same world view as me.

Recently I was introduced to the Internet of Good Things which shares information on critical issues affecting us as young people and young women, including female genital mutilation and physical, sexual and gender-based violence. The Internet of Good Things is helping to change attitudes, behaviors, and choices of young people for the better because of new and better knowledge which is being made available at no cost. The initiative is also helping to bridge the digital divide and increase access to critical information.

Although some might say many Djiboutian young people are not online and are left behind, I do argue that those who have access to this information are making good use of it. They are provided with skills building, positive knowledge, emergency information, that empower them to make more informed decisions around health, ending violence, environment protection, career advice, and many other areas.

As a voice for other young people I believe more opportunities that educate and provide information, like the UNFD Life Skills Programme, UNICEF Djibouti Blogging Internship and the Internet of Good Things, will allow young people, caregivers and communities to access vital information and acquire new knowledge and skills – so that more children and young people can be protected from violence, harm and disease and can grow to their full potential.

Ilwad Souleiman, 19, recently completed High School and is waiting to attend University studies. She is interested in supporting gender equality and ensuring that the girl child is protected and achieves her full potential.