A journey into the community – Perspectives from the WOUGNET Technology Center
Five months down the road and impact is already visible. April 2013, two young ladies were deployed by Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT) at WOUGNET to facilitate DOTs, social economic programme ReachUp! Some of you may have already read about it from the WOUGNET website but for those of you that have not, it deals with imparting/facilitating ICT and entrepreneurial skills to the local community. Participants are taught how to start up their own businesses based on the things that they love to do as well as how to incorporate ICT (computer knowledge) into their businesses.
Our first class had about 36 participants, many of whom we had to mobilize from our closest networks (friends, church-mates, relatives, neighbors), put up notices in different places but as time went on, there was no need to mobilize. People came in to register by themselves after what they had heard from the first intakes.
Former participants already in business
This training is really an insight of what the community really is. It is in fact a revelation. Long before Kamwokya a suburb in Kampala was viewed as a society full of wasted youth and petty businesses but as a result of this training we have been able to learn that it is actually a society full of people looking to sustain their lives and to have a meaningful future, people with icons they look up to and dreams they hope to achieve someday, just that they luck mentoring and someone to show them the correct route to use.
ReachUp! is a great source of both. It helps impart some of the small necessary life skills such as time keeping, respect, praying, confidence, self marketing, conduct in public, discipline and of course the latest being ICT skills in to community members and at absolutely no cost. In this “DOT com” generation as they call it, for one to fit in any society or job setting, they need to at least have some basic computer knowledge.
ICTs and gender,more assertiveness needed
Just like in many societies, Kamwokya is no different. The women in this society are reserved and hesitant. Few turn up to register; out of a list of 31 participants we can have only 2, 3 or 6 females. In our classes we try to push the ladies to actively participate much as the gentlemen because they have the least representation
We endeavor to see that the ladies are as involved as the gentlemen by having a fair ratio of females: males in all class activities.
At the centre we noted that the women, who come in to use computer services, mostly come in to facebook, as compared to the gentlemen who come in on official business a sign that the women in the society are less represented in the job market and if so haven’t gotten the knowledge and experience to at least use a computer to better their lives despite the social networking.
After realizing this, as DOT interns we are embarking on a campaign to boost women participation in learning where by the ratio of females to males to be enrolled in the program will be 70:30 but before doing this we shall first look at factors such as the gender based division of labor, gender roles plus those socially contrasted, gender equality to mention but a few. When we are satisfied by the turn up of women, we shall then have 50:50 so that the men learn that the struggle is not for the women alone but for them as well. The desired situation is to have men work along with women in society by incorporating them in all issues and increase their participation through gender mainstreaming towards achieving a common goal; sustainable development.
Fiona Amwola and Mary Mirembe.N