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Internet muscle for grassroots women in Uganda: the missing link.

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While some effort has been made in Uganda to get women onto the web, the gaps are still huge, not only in the rural, but also the urban area; most partner funding skips the urban area. The Ministry of Gender set up some few telecenters in a handful of rural districts, leaving out the now much vulnerable urban Kampala, hence marginalizing the poor peri-urban women in Kampala, who are hard hit by the cash economy.
The peri-urban community women leadership to which I am a part exhibits high levels of computer illiteracy in the first place which also relates to constraints of getting online. During a power point presentation at a recent capacity building workshop for Kampala women leaders, the computer technician was a male. When this technician was unable to fix a technical fault during the computer presentations, no one could trouble shoot as the majority of participants (95 out of 100 participants) were women. Further to this, internet access challenges and hesitancy to adopt the cheap, efficient mode of internet communication continues to plague planning and community development efforts of Kampala women leaders. The women leadership committee which is currently preparing for the 2014 District women’s day celebrations has continuously faced challenges of both mobilizing the committee for meetings and miscommunication simply because of keeping to the dark age way of doing things, instead of getting online. In a March 2014 Kampala city women leaders’ meeting, one of the members introduced a unique and forward looking approach of asking the members to indicate their e-mail accounts on an attendance form that was passed around. Half the group did not register, confessing they did not have e-mails; this was informative. In an earlier incident, a woman leader in concealing her true situation of not having an e-mail address offered an obviously fictitious e-mail account. This brings out stigma as another barrier to getting online.
As a first step, the women leadership, a sizable over 70% of whom are not internet compliant and other community members will be equipped with computer and internet skills, hence bridge information gaps, improve mobilization, including notices of meetings, program updates, via web use. This will cut communication costs for individuals and the leadership set up. Considering that some women are not conversant with English, yet are able to read and write in a local language, some of the sessions will be carried out in the local language (Luganda); most of the meetings for this group of leaders are conducted in Luganda. The female literacy is estimated at 63 percent according to the Uganda National Household Survey 2005/2006; Report on the Socio-Economic Module –Uganda Bureau Of Statistics). Further to this, the training will introduce women to and or expand their e-business opportunities and influence the careers of girls and women in technology and other areas hence create employment. Furthermore, computer IT skills will facilitate the women beneficiaries to write own documents and save costs, as well as safeguard women’s confidential information & documents. This will translate into reduced costs of trading, expanded business and social networks at the local, national and international levels. The women leaders through their umbrella Organisation the Women Council, will network with organizations such as a women led Savings and Credit Cooperative Society (SACCO) which has established a computer lab to ease access to computer services in a woman friendly environment and at reasonable charges. Further still, at the national celebrations of women’s day (8th March, 2014), the President who was chief guest mentioned ICT among the 5 priority sectors. This submission aligns with our identified need of web access; hence as women leaders, we will promptly lobby the Presidency and follow this up with a proposal to support our above suggested solution of training in order to accelerate internet access for women in our community and achieve global connectivity.

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

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Comments

bitani's picture

beautiful

Dear Miria,

thank you for this informative piece on women's computer literacy efforts in Uganda. the work of the peri-Urban community you are part of sounds really impressive.

I liked what you mentioned on using indicators to know the percent of literacy in the region (for ex. half of the women attendees not having emails, etc,). I think these are indirect indicators that something should be done to address the issue.

as a sisterly advice try to add more of yourself in the piece. It is beautiful and well-documented, but an input of feelings/emotions will make to awesome.

my warmest regards,
Bayan

"Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else."
—Judy Garland

miria's picture

Hullo Bayan, All is noted and

Hullo Bayan,

All is noted and very much appreciated; we need all the useful tips if we are to hit our goals earlier than even planned.. ..

Regards Miria.

Sarah Whitten-Grigsby's picture

Hello and Thank You!

Dear Miria,

Thank you for sharing this valuable and crucial information regarding Ugandan women and their many stumbling blocks to regular, affordable Internet use.

Your piece is not only informative but also very solutions-oriented, which is crucial in the World Pulse community. When you tell the story so clearly from start to finish (and with a wonderful, provocative title, too!), then the universe will begin to provide what you need. Stay on this path of speaking out and of so directly stating what must be overcome and how to get there.

Your voice is a strong and well-informed one, and I hope you will get lots of readership and offers of support.

In the meantime, thank you for all that you and your groups are doing to make life better for Ugandan women.

I wish you the best,

- Sarah

miria's picture

The Web campaign..

Hi Sarah,

Your feed back is simply elevating. You have inspired us in such a big way! as we continue to pursue the voice community goals. And many thanks for recognizing our efforts in bettering the lives of our fellow women.

Regards Miria.

Sarah Whitten-Grigsby's picture

YOU ARE INDEED

bettering the lives of other women, Miria.

Best Regards,

Sarah

Ridingthecamel's picture

Dear Miria, Thank you for

Dear Miria,

Thank you for your story! It seems that you are still facing a lot of obstacles that need
to be overcome in order to make women's voices heard as loud and clear as they could and
should be.
As a student of Development Studies, I have come across quite some reports of sponsors and governments and the like.
Indeed, most of them focus on either the urban areas or the rural ones. Even though, in general, investment here would be good, I think you raised an important point when you mentioned the lack of attention for the peri-urban areas.
These too, should be more strongly represented in development plans -not only in Uganda but worldwide.
Your other ideas and implementations too, were inspiring and hopeful.
Although there are a lot of hurdles on the way, thanks to leaders like you, more and more women can and will be heard as well as their needs and dreams for a better future.

Blessings,

CamelRider

miria's picture

The Web campaign..

Your comments and words of encouragement are much welcome, CamelRider. It is gratifying to note your concurrence with my views and proposals and hopefully, you will find space to research/document related experiences in your Development Studies. Let's continue learning from one another on the subject matter.
Best wishes,
Miria.

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