Announcing the 2011 International Activist BlogHer Scholarship Recipients!

BlogHer Original Post

Blogging is about sharing our passions, whatever they may be, and strengthening our communities, whether small or large. For many, the passion is for social change and the communities reach across great distances. The International Activist BlogHer Scholarship, now in its third year, is designed to both recognize and magnify the impact of international bloggers doing such work, by bringing them to the BlogHer conference to share it and to learn from others. This August it will be an honor to meet, celebrate, and listen to the four recipients introduced below.

The International Activist BlogHer Scholarship has its roots in a "pay it forward" story. In 2008, BlogHer won the Anita Borg Social Impact Award, which honors "an individual or team that has caused technology to have a positive impact on the lives of women and society." When Lisa, Jory, and Elisa asked community members what should be done with the $10,000 in prize money, folks loved the idea of bringing activist bloggers from developing nations to the conference to be honored and "to meet their blogging sistren."

BlogHer International Activist panel 2010
International Activist Keynote, BlogHer 2010

This year, though it wasn't easy, a selection committee (named here) reviewed dozens of nominations, and concluded that the following four bloggers' work most deserved recognition and warranted sharing at a special session in San Diego's annual conference. Their scholarship includes a full 2-day conference pass to BlogHer '11, plus a ticket to the Pathfinder Day Change Agent path, round-trip airfare to and from San Diego, three nights' stay at the San Diego Marriott during the conference, and finally, the opportunity to present their work during a session at BlogHer '11.

Please now meet:

Fungai Machirori, Zimbabwe, publisher of Fungai Neni

"Fungai Neni" means "think with me" in the local Shona language of Zimbabwe, and this is what publisher Fungai Machirori invites her readers to do with her. She tells this story: 'Once, after a backlash from some men, I considered toning down the voice and content of my blog - they said that a 'real Zimbabwean woman' didn't say the things that I was saying and that I was only alienating myself from men. This was very hurtful and so I posted something about that on my Facebook wall. It was only when women wrote back telling me that what I wrote gave them courage to speak up too that I realized that I could not ever keep silent."

Reem Amr Abbas, Sudan, publisher of I Have No Tribe, I'm Sudanese

Reem's nominator said this about her: "Strictly from a news perspective, rarely is the proper context provided when stories are told from the west about North Africa and the Arab world. Yet these reports cannot be told in a vacuum. The political, cultural and historical reasons behind the stories are critical to proper understanding. Reem is very adept at providing, in a personal and easily accessible manner, this context."

Simone Leid, Trinidad and Tobago, publisher of Women Speak: Women Tell Their Stories of Discrimination

Women Speak, as Leid describes it, "has provided a forum for women in the Caribbean to tell their stories of discrimination and in so doing has given them a way to begin to take charge of their lives and contribute to helping raise awareness about the challenges women in the Caribbean face." It has also "provided a resource for women in the Caribbean to know more about their rights and the resources available to help them deal with various issues of discrimination," as well as "a platform for discussion on issues of discrimination against women, through the twitter and Facebook pages, Ustream and television."

Yoani Sanchez, Cuba, publisher of Generacion Y

Yoani's blog, all about Cuba today, is by any measure an enormous success: millions of readers visit it, and her average post garners at the least 1,200 comments and up to 5,000. Her nominators describe her as "the most influential women blogger outside of the US. Her blog is shaping the way the world looks at Cuba. She is objective but also has an honest opinion about the situation in Cuba and the world. People see her as a role model for activism, blogging and community building."

You need only click through and read the current post on each of these blogs to get a sense of the import of their work. Then come to San Diego to meet them and thank them in person. Their session will take place Saturday, August 6, from 10:45 until noon in the Change the World track.

For further background, you can read profiles and links to the blogs of recipients of the International Activist BlogHer Scholarship for 2009 and 2010.


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