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Women Confront VAW using ICTs: Experiences from remote and fishing community in Eastern Uganda

Women learning how to use a computer during the training

I was privileged to coordinate a project on combating violence against women using ICTs. This project was in partnership with Association for Progressive Communication and Isis-WICCE. As part of the project activities, I conducted training on VAW and ICT with grassroots women in a remote and fishing community of Namaingo located on the shores of lake Victoria. For long fishing communities in Uganda have been marginalized and left out on many development aspects because of their remote locations. Because of this situation, there has been gross violations of human rights and widespread violence against women such as domestic violence, widow in-heritance and property grabbing, defilement among others.

During the training, a 59 year old participant shared an experience of how women in the olden days creatively used local platforms to combat violence against women. She shared that when she was growing up as a young girl, women used to look for a strategic location in the village which was usually an anthill. The woman would stand on top of the anthill and start shouting about the bad behaviors the husband has and she would say “my husband is bad, she beats me when I give meat to the children, he is a glutton, and he abuses me all the time...” This was to let every one in the village hear about her husband’s bad behaviors which would prompt the villagers to gossip about him, musicians would compose songs about his bad behaviors and he would be ashamed and eventually change his behaviors.

Today, technology has provided us with much more advanced platforms compared to an anthill such as mobile telephones, internet, computers where we can make noise about VAW so that the whole world can hear us. Unfortunately, most women lack the technical know-how and resources to access such tools and fully utilize, engage and participate.

This training on how to use ICTs to combat violence against women was an eye opener for the women in this communuty. During the training the women shared their fears, excitements andlearnings; “for me I have always seen a computer.. there is an NGO that gave our group a very big computer but we have never touched it because we feared it. Now that I have got the knowledge and the skills, when I go back, I will use it” said Lyaka Grace.

For Taaka Alice her excitement was beyond and she said “I am very excited to have touched a computer for the first time in my life., I have touched the mouse and I typed my name and my husband’s name and I was able to see them on the screen. Thank you for giving me this opportunity.” And Kintu Solome said “I used to think that computers are only for those people who are educated and are in big offices in Kampala but today I have realized that I can also use a computer”.

With regards to mobile telephony, while most of us assume that everyone who owns a mobile phone can be able to use the basic applications in it, this not a reality. Egesa Rose from Sigulu Islands was awakened on how little she knew after learning about mobile phone applications “I have always had a mobile phone, I have been using it to call and check the time only but it is today that I have learnt that I can use it to send a short message to my people which is even cheaper”

Much as they were excited about the new tools, the training enabled them to understand the linkage between VAW and ICT and how to ICT to overcome VAW. Perusi Onyango an elderly lady lammented that “men buy mobile phones for their wives to control them. If a man calls the wife and she does not answer the call immediately, she will be asked to explain what she was doing and she will be beaten. Remember, at times the wife might be in the garden digging or in the kitchen cooking”.

And for Barbara, her learning was that “much as these telephones have caused violence against women in some circumstances, I have learnt that we can use the same phones to send messages to the men who violate women’s rights to educate them about VAW”.

The women for the first time were able to see and use internet by searching the web and opening up their first email addresses, a group email(tumbulawomen@yahoo.com) and a group blog where they share their stories (http://tumbula.wordpress.com/). To most of them, they imagined that internet was a building in Kampala(the capital city of Uganda) while others thought internet is a human being. This is a reflection of total ignorance or lack of any knowledge of such tools.

After the training, the women ran an SMS campaign using Frontline SMS software. They sent out bulk SMS to different local leaders, clan leaders and the general public condemning acts of violence against women in the community and bringing the perpetrators to court. Mariam Adwori one of the grassroots women activists reported that there was a case of a woman whose husband cut her hands because she went to a political campaign rally without informing him. When we heard about it we sent out messages to the local leaders and the police. The case was handled.”

The SMS campaign on Violence against women in Namayingo has helped to awaken local leaders, clan leaders and the community at large on the issues of violence against women and the messages are sent in the local language.

This story was written for World Pulse’s Women Weave the Web Digital Action Campaign. Learn more »

Women learning how to use a computer during the training
Women learning how to use a computer during the training
Aguttu Getu learning how to use Frontline SMS software during the training

Comments

LeanaM's picture

Thank you for sharing this

Thank you for sharing this experience! It's great to hear that you worked with the APC, who is one of our campaign partners. I wanted to read the ladies' blog, but I think the link might be wrong. Could you please check if it's the right link so that we can read the blog of the Tumbula Women?

Lovely story -

loyce's picture

This also interesting

Hi Leana

You also be interested in reading this blog. It documents our initial engagements with the rural women before the ICT training.

http://advancing-rights-of-women.blogspot.com/

Loyce

Follow me on twitter:@livelyloyce
My blog:www.loycek.wordpress.com

LeanaM's picture

This is great!

I'd also love it if you could keep sharing some of the content to World Pulse and the Women Weave the Web campaign!

loyce's picture

Blog Address

Dear Leana,

Thank you too for your reply and for pointing out the blog address. There was a mistake in typing which I forgot to correct. The correct address is: http://tumbula.wordpress.com/

Loyce

Follow me on twitter:@livelyloyce
My blog:www.loycek.wordpress.com

LeanaM's picture

Thank you, looks great!

Thank you, looks great!

Y's picture

I love the story about the

I love the story about the anthill! It is so interesting that you have connected the anthills and technology in your story. Very creative and captivating!

Y

loyce's picture

Thank you

Hi Y,

Thank you for appreciating. Women are naturally creative and innovative.

Follow me on twitter:@livelyloyce
My blog:www.loycek.wordpress.com

PrincessLala's picture

A picture says a thousand words

Thank you, Loyce, for sharing this story and including such beautiful pictures.

I am deeply moved by the picture of the woman in the training; one hand pointing to the screen and the other attending to her baby. It captures, for me, the amazing strength of a woman.

I am thrilled to hear of women being exposed to technology for the first time.

Emancipate yourself from the chains that bind your spirit.

loyce's picture

The women were amazing and I

The women were amazing and I enjoyed training them. They were very enthusiastic, energetic and intelligent.

Follow me on twitter:@livelyloyce
My blog:www.loycek.wordpress.com

Kika Sylvie Katchunga's picture

salut

Bon travail ma soeur loyce
Courage

sylvie

loyce's picture

Cher Sylivie Merci pour vos

Cher Sylivie

Merci pour vos encouragements

Follow me on twitter:@livelyloyce
My blog:www.loycek.wordpress.com

jacollura's picture

Wonderful work!

Wonderful work, Loyce! Thank you for sharing.

loyce's picture

Thank you too for

Thank you too for appreciating! We need to bring grassroots women into the global village. Let us make it a reality. Alutta Continua!

Follow me on twitter:@livelyloyce
My blog:www.loycek.wordpress.com

loyce's picture

Thank you too for

Thank you too for appreciating! We need to bring grassroots women into the global village. Let us make it a reality. Alutta Continua!

Follow me on twitter:@livelyloyce
My blog:www.loycek.wordpress.com

ikirimat's picture

Im impressed with the

Im impressed with the collection of views during the ICT training you conducted. Especially what the women thought internet was (a building in Kampala, a person....). these are things we take for granted and yet they can totally change the way they think or percieve certain things in the community. this also reflects how they can embrace change. thank you for sharing. I also love the pictures. they are good action pictures.

My question is where you able to find out why these fishing communities have been marginalized for long, is it the low education levels, or something else? this can help the leaders address the problem not symptoms.

Grace Ikirimat

"It takes the hammer of persistence to drive the nail of success."


loyce's picture

Hello Grace, I hope you are

Hello Grace,

I hope you are aware that service delivery in rural areas is still a very big challenge in Uganda and when it comes to remote communities, it is worse. The ICT project was a follow up on the previous project on advancing the rights of rural women living with HIV and AIDs as documented on this blog: http://advancing-rights-of-women.blogspot.com/.
This might give you highlights on what was achieved.

Follow me on twitter:@livelyloyce
My blog:www.loycek.wordpress.com

adeakins's picture

overcoming the fear

Technology always has a learning curve. But once that "anthill" is overcome, there is a reward, as these women have seen.

loyce's picture

Yes, we have to break the

Yes, we have to break the technophobia and the gender digital divide.

Follow me on twitter:@livelyloyce
My blog:www.loycek.wordpress.com

Greengirl's picture

lmpressive!

Women certainly need all the support they can get and your training program is a great example of a strategic model for promoting women's access to and usage of the internet. This is a success story, and l wish you the very best as you continue in your efforts to turn the fortunes of disadvantaged women around, for best.

Great and impressive post!

Cheers,
Greengirl

busayo's picture

WAO!

As an reading your story, itvis like I am reading the story of Nigerian women. Our problems are the similar globally. Thank you for taken the ICT training to those women. You have gone to give them life.

Love
Busayo

Busayo Obisakin
Women inspiration Development center
Ile-Ife, Nigeria
busobisaki@yahoo.com
womeninspirationcenter@gmail.com

loyce's picture

The ICT training was a follow

The ICT training was a follow up on the previous engagements. You can find more info on this blog http://advancing-rights-of-women.blogspot.com/

Follow me on twitter:@livelyloyce
My blog:www.loycek.wordpress.com

busayo's picture

Geat job!

You have really done a great job in Uganda. May you be blessed!

Love
Busayo

Busayo Obisakin
Women inspiration Development center
Ile-Ife, Nigeria
busobisaki@yahoo.com
womeninspirationcenter@gmail.com

kind3500's picture

Thanks

Thanks so much for sharing your story! I am inspired by the hard work and positive attitude towards change and technology that you behold, and it is obvious that you share this passion with others. It is so true that technology and the Internet has the power to change a woman's world, if it is used properly. Education is of utmost importance and in our world of ever increasing dependence on technology, it is to a woman's benefit to become tech-literate. I especially love the anthill comparison you made, as it proves just how tenacious women have always been. It also came to my attention after reading this that sometimes technology causes more problems. Despite this downfall, technology is still one of the leading factors in improving gender equality. Thanks again for sharing your story!
Peace

Kindersley

loyce's picture

Dear Kindersley, Thank you

Dear Kindersley,

Thank you for the kind words. True, technology is a liberator if properly used although it can as well have backlash effects. The good news is that with education, women have conquered technology and are using it to challenge the status quo of men.

Follow me on twitter:@livelyloyce
My blog:www.loycek.wordpress.com

erinluhmann's picture

Captivating Testimony

Dear Loyce,

Other women have already complimented you on this, but I love how you bring us into the world of the women you are working with by sharing how they once thought the internet was a building in the capital or a human being. The anthill example is also incredibly powerful and I think it highlights the agency of women - we are resourceful, even when we have nothing more than a mound of dirt to assert ourselves with. Now imagine how far we can go when each and every woman is empowered with mobile and computer technology.

On a personal note, I find it interesting that as rural women in Eastern Uganda continue to establish email accounts, my 60-year-old aunt (who live in Minnesota) established her first email account last week after buying a smart phone. It's just serves as a reminder that no matter where we live, we need to need to encourage and support each other in realizing our full potential.

I look forward to reading more of your writing!

Best,
Erin

loyce's picture

Thank you for your comment

Dear Erin,

Thank you for your comment. I was also overwhelmed by the energies, knowledge and commitment of these women. I must say that I really enjoy working with them. Yes, women have their agency which needs to be advanced to higher heights.

Follow me on twitter:@livelyloyce
My blog:www.loycek.wordpress.com

Vision40's picture

Feeling like I'm there with you

Thank you for the way you have communicated your article...you set the scene so well and by using the anthill and direct quotes from the women you work with helped me picture and understand your story so much more, despite being so geographically far away from you. What strikes me the most is the way you set about listening to the fears and stories of the women you work with before sharing your ideas, you captured these so beautifully. You are clearly focused on finding practical solutions and I look fwd to hearing more of your success stories.

First you need to believe you can
Take care
Nicola

loyce's picture

Hello Nicola, It's nice to

Hello Nicola,

It's nice to hear from you! and thank you for your comment. Yes, more is yet to come. Watch out!

Follow me on twitter:@livelyloyce
My blog:www.loycek.wordpress.com

Kjir's picture

Access is powerful

Hello -

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and stories! One of the things I am taking away from your post is the importance of access. Access to education, to technology, to other women and their stories and to leaders/others that can help influence change. With access to these things and instruction on how to leverage them, women can find the confidence, courage and ability to create very positive change.

Thanks again!
Kjirsten

loyce's picture

Thank you Kjirsten,I

Thank you Kjirsten,

I totally agree with you, access and then control is indeed very important. Our struggle as women is the need to have access and control of resources, then opportunities will be created.

Follow me on twitter:@livelyloyce
My blog:www.loycek.wordpress.com

Paulina Lawsin's picture

This is inspiring.

This is inspiring. Smartphones are the easiest way to report VAWCs. THanks for sharing this inspiring initiative. Cheers to your work!

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