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Civic Tech initiatives
Organisation responsible for case study:
Name: Women of Uganda Network
Org. type: Non-Profit
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Wougnet: A society in which women are empowered through the use of ICTs for sustainable development
Main Project Location: Kampala
Project country/countries: Uganda
Project dates: –
Last updated: 23 Mar 2022
Brief overview of the Case Study
Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) is a non-governmental organisation initiated in May 2000 by several women’s organisations in Uganda to develop the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) among as tools to share information and address issues collectively. WOGNET’s vision is a society in which women are empowered through the use of ICTs for sustainable development. Currently, WOUGNET has over 100 women organisations as members, the majority in urban areas where there is some internet access and a few in rural areas.
The challenge or problem
Just like many societies across the world, gender inequality and access to opportunities is a challenge in Uganda. “WOUGNET mission is to promote and support the use of ICTs by women and women organisations in Uganda in order to effectively address national and local problems for sustainable development”.
The solution that was implemented
For eighteen months prior to the formation of WOUGNET in May 2000, I maintained an email mailing list through which women's organisations in Uganda would share news and announcements, as well as tips on computer and Internet usage. As interest in the list grew, it became apparent that structures and mechanisms were needed to maintain and facilitate this communication. Consultations were held with several well-known women's organisations, and there was clear need for:
- a list that would facilitate exchange of ideas and information between women's organisations;
- a companion website that would profile women's organisations and use the web to provide additional exposure for their activities; and
- information and support on how to maximise the potential of ICTs within women's organisations.
In response to the above, the WOUGNET mailing list and website were set up. The WOUGNET website and mailing lists were hosted by Kabissa - Space for Change in Africa. By the end of 2000, the WOUGNET mailing list had fifty subscribers, including 18 women's organisations, while the website profiled 25 women's organisations and women-related projects.
What results were achieved?
WOUGNET activities had increased awareness and participation of women in ICT-related activities, as well as increased information sharing and networking among women and women’s organisations. However, the benefits were still limited to those organisations that had access to internet, leaving out the majority of women and women’s organisations in the rural areas. Though efforts had been made to support women’s organisations in the rural areas to explore ICT opportunities in their activities, through awareness workshops, seminars, print materials, etc., this had been done on a limited scale. There was still lack of adequate capacity for women to explore ICTs to their full potential in their activities. Constrains included:
Inadequate skills and knowledge in ICT use and application in their daily activities.
Lack of ICT centres where they could exploit ICTs in their activities.
Lack of connectivity to access the information disseminated online by WOUGNET.
Lack of information translated in the local language to meet the needs of the diversified members.
Lack of diversified methods of disseminating information that would satisfy both urban and rural women.
Lack of technical skills to address problems such as computer break down and maintenance.
Lessons and recommendations
Gender is widely recognized as a critical development issue in the area of ICTs. It determines the access, use and application of ICTs among men and women. In Uganda, women’s awareness and use of ICTs is nearly three times less than that of men.5 The National ICT Policy has 14 objectives that include ensuring gender mainstreaming in information and communication programmes and in ICT development. The strategies for gender mainstreaming are to:
take into account gender information needs and interests of both men and women in all information and communication programmes.
develop mechanisms for increasing women’s access to information (especially in rural areas), so as to reduce the gender information gap;
use non-discriminative gender sensitive language in information and communication programmes; — ensure equal participation in all aspects of ICT development.
The use of ICT and similar technologies can produce a clash with traditional ways of doing things - but one that can be managed. For example, e-learning can be used to enable more study hours for the female child even while at home but does not address the stereotype that girls do not need to be educated - where such is the belief.
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