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Digital Access In Uganda

In developing nations the challenges to women logging on are the three A’s - access, availability and affordability. One needs to have access to a computer including Internet connectivity, or an Internet enabled phone, and this is not very easy in developing nations. Low education levels are another barrier, with women being the most vulnerable. The fact that most material on the Internet is in a foreign language adds to the difficulty of access to content. High poverty levels challenge affordability – for example, is digital access a priority over food?

Local public libraries could be a key to providing digital access through innovative methods. In addition to having well equipped libraries, they could utilize mobile phones to disseminate information to women in the safety and comfort of their homes. In my community, mobile phones are much more affordable than computers. Libraries could also engage with social networks to subscribe members and thus gain popularity, traffic and feedback utilizing the internet.

Public libraries are not very common in my community, and those that do exist are poorly equipped and with outdated books. Therefore digital books could be utilized for more up-to-date information and school libraries could then be opened to the public. Sensitization by libraries should be related to the daily needs of people to provide services that are more relevant to their daily lives. For example women could be informed about health information, entrepreneurship and business information which would impact on their lives positively. Free public access days or times could be encouraged as well. For example, mothers could be given one free hour of access to school libraries when they go to pick their children from school. This would be a good and timely way to target women and also gain their interest.

In my country the organization that I lead, Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT) Uganda, ensures that members in the communities where we work are trained in ICT knowledge and we emphasize the need for women to have access. We have so far trained over 3,000 participants in utilization of the internet and provided them basic computer knowledge.- 1,750 being women. DOT offers free training for young people, especially women, enabling them to access the Internet through a network of community organizations that we work with. We aim that at least 60% of our participants are women.

Over the years I have been involved in provision of access and training in ICT for rural women and young girls through the various organizations that I have helped grow. One of them, I-Network, still has an active mailing list where women engage in ICT related issues and information sharing and many of the students I taught went ahead to study information technology at university. I also employ young women on my staff as both a drive to give women employment opportunities and to also engage them in the ICT activities that are embedded in our work, thus improving their knowledge and access.

I am a member of the ICT task force for the Uganda national information and communication research, development and innovation master plan and the national IT data collection and dissemination system – and I champion the inclusion of women’s needs.

To stay abreast of technology, I have many channels of communication. I have used each and every network operator in Uganda over the years, I have modems, routers, fixed lines, Internet on the phone – you name it! I want to be a role model for women to have the patience and drive to have access, no matter what.

I am vigilant about security. I use secure passwords and I check my security options, for example on Facebook, so that I do not reveal information that I would not like to be viewed by everyone. I cross check information that I get online and do not open documents from untrusted sources.

Privacy is an issue in Uganda. The government is now monitoring Internet communication I think that there should be consultation with Ugandans to seek opinions from key stakeholders. Government should curb corruption so that procedures and processes are transparent. This will make people trust that intrusion of privacy will not occur and that the Internet will be safe for “wanainchi” nationals. Technology companies should also stop selling mobile numbers to private practitioners without the consent of mobile phone owners. This is making people distrust the technology companies.

Technology companies should also improve their security monitoring and take immediate investigation action when laptops and phones, containing personal information, are lost or stolen. Telephone lines should also not get crossed, as is the case lately. All of this reduces people’s trust and interest in technology, thereby reducing the benefits that can be realized. For women, who are typically the most cautious, this only adds to the challenges of the three A’s.

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

Comments

Kika Sylvie Katchunga's picture

BONJOUR

Bienvenue dans notre communauté mondiale. Ça fait tellement plaisir de vous avoir parmi nous. Ici tu trouveras d’autre personne qui élève leur voix puissante entre des partage leurs rêve et leur vision .soit aussi libre car la porte est grandement ouverte pour vous aussi des postes tes journal et tes commentaire.
A nouveau la Bienvenue

sylvie

Natalie K's picture

Hello thank you for your

Hello thank you for your comment, could you please translate this into English?
If not then please give me a few days to get it translated and i will get back to you.
Regards

Natalie K

Thank you my sister, I too am not competent English, to understand the message in English I use Google translate to help me understand, the message was simply to welcome you in our global community
Hi

sylvie

Natalie K's picture

Thank you Sylvie much

Thank you Sylvie much appreciated.

Natalie K

BAJIRA CHISHUBA's picture

Votre article

Bonjour Nathalie, je vous ai lu et ce que vous dite a un but très fondé et c'est très réelle, meme ici chez -nous le grang defis en est que la langue souvant utilisée à l'internet c'est l'englais , et ici chez-nous l'englais est mal connu, moins utilisé que le français, cela crée une obstacle pour la plupart

Vous avez parler que vous dirigez une organisation qui s'occupe d'apprendre l'informatique aux femmes rurales, c'est bien.

Vous savaez ma chère Nathalie, nous autres le grand probleme que nous sommes entrain de parccourrir est que nous vivons dans un pays moins developpé, la connexion n'existe que dans des grandes villes, allors que les 90% des activités des organisations se passent aux villages,
Donc, les gens quittent leurs villages pour ne fussent qu'aller faire saisir les rapports en ville, cela leurs couttent les frais de transport, restaurations et logement dans des villes.

Je ne manquerrais pas de vous demander quelle est votre contribution personnelles pour nous aatres qui n'avons pas encore eu cette chance de connecter nos villages?

Nous ne cesseront pas de plaider la connexion inernet pour nos villages qui nous fournissent les rapports
Merci et au plaisir de vous lire prochainemment

bajira

Natalie K's picture

Hello thank you for your

Hello thank you for your comment, could you please translate this into English?
If not then please give me a few days to get it translated and i will get back to you.
Regards

Natalie K

BAJIRA CHISHUBA's picture

sans problème

sans problème

bajira

Natalie K's picture

Dear Bajira, I agree, in less

Dear Bajira,
I agree, in less developed economies access and utilization of the internet can be a challenge, we however need to rise above that and seek measures that are more affordable such as mobile internet. Translation is also very important although some people argue that if one can not read or write then one will not be able to read in their mother tongue either! This could be true but there is also a fraction of people who can read in their mother tongues and not in English, French or other most commonly used languages on the internet and these should be given the opportunity to access the world!

Natalie K

Bienvenu à WOLRD PULSE j'espère que vous apprécierer faire partie de cette communauté des femmes de beaucoup de pays à travers le monde. Nous pouvons trouver des solutions pour mettre fin à la violence faite aux femmes et à faire un monde de paix et sécurité pour nos familles de notre génération présente mais aussi et surtout celle futur. Nous entendons votre voix sur les histoier de votre vie.
A bientôt

arianemoza

Natalie K's picture

Hello thank you for your

Hello thank you for your comment, could you please translate this into English?
If not then please give me a few days to get it translated and i will get back to you.
Regards

Natalie K

noreez's picture

Good Job!

IT has great potential to be an effective and empowering means of communication for all especially underprivileged women.

Well done for helping such such women increase their independence, communicate in more direct ways and express themselves as part of society.

Dr.Noriah Ismail
APB Senior Lecturer
Universiti Teknologi MARA
Segamat, Johor
Malaysia

Natalie K's picture

Thank you, We try our best

Thank you,
We try our best and we shall continue to reach out as much as possible.
Regards

Natalie K

inetmom's picture

A Powerful Force

Dear Natalie - Your ideas are a great illustration of the reason why World Pulse is so important. I live in a small rural community in the U.S. The library is only open a few hours a day and most of our Mexican immigrant community are low income and have low literacy rates. They need access to technology. The schools are all well equipped and the children are able to use technology every day. I love your suggestion of letting parents use computers for an hour after school. Family literacy - even digital literacy - extends the conversation beyond our small community when parents and children can participate in activities regarding technology together. Thank you for your post. I will be watching for more from you!

Natalie K's picture

Thank you and yes i strongly

Thank you and yes i strongly believe that parents should be educated alongside their children for a more holistic development process. And when you think about it, if schools have facilities why not extend the use of these facilities to the community as well? Such that instead of educating one student you also educate the community in which this student lives.

Natalie K

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