WOUGNET celebrating women in a twitter chat #CelebrateWomenUG

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Ahead of Women’s day celebrations on 8th March 2017, Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) took the initiative to conduct a twitter chat to reflect and celebrate her work. The theme of this year’s National women’s day celebration was “Women’s empowerment in the changing world of Work”. WOUGNET therefore drew focus to the rural women and their contribution to development and the use of ICTs for empowerment.

With the hashtag, #CelebrateWomenUG, WOUGNET staff and other participants deliberated on various issues including good governance and service delivery, ICT and agriculture, ICT and entrepreneurship, WOUGNET partners, to mention but a few. WOUGNET is currently running projects in Northern and Eastern Uganda including; use of ICTs and women socio-economic empowerment to promote transparency and accountability for improved service delivery funded by SPIDER; Monitoring Good Governance through use of ICTs in partnership with CIPESA and with funding from SIDA; and Enhancing Rice-Green Gram Productivity in Northern Uganda with funding from Applied Research Fund (ARF). In line with her philosophy, WOUGNET promotes at least 70% women inclusion in project interventions.

The twitter chat was conducted on Tuesday 7th March from 2:16pm to 3:16pm as all project/ field staff and staff at the secretariat gathered to jointly tweet following the hashtag. Ten questions were asked to guide the conversation. The chat centered on areas of; good governance and service delivery, ICTs in relation to women farmers, entrepreneurs and women’s social economic empowerment.

On the question of how rural women have used ICTs to empower themselves, participants in the chat had diverse opinions and experiences to share among which included; WOUGNET has trained women to use cameras to capture videos, photographic evidence and the internet to access & report poor service delivery. The organization has also trained Voluntary Social Accountability Committee members (VSACs) on how to use the m-omulimisa sms platform to forward complaints of poor service delivery. Rural Women have used ICTs like mobile phones to access information about marketing opportunities and call in to radio agricultural talk shows like Lango Forum on e- agriculture. Rural women are now using e-banking like mobile money to save which has in turn helped them sustain themselves and their families boosting their economic empowerment.

Radio has been key in supporting rural women entrepreneurs in Northern Uganda by ; engaging women to share their experiences on radio for instance Radio Apac in Apac District, Radio Mega in Gulu District, Shine FM in Oyam District. Radio has also been used as a tool to sensitized women by giving them information on what to do in the community to improve their livelihoods. Radio talk shows by WOUGNET have taught women the social impact of their entrepreneurship thus motivating them.

A number of Success stories have emerged as a result of women breaking barriers through use of ICTs. These include shared stories like that of Harriet Aloro from Atana Parish in Apac District;

“The Project started by WOUGNET changed my life to a self-reliant and hard working person. I am now empowered socially, economically and politically. I am now able to provide my family with all the basic needs like food, school fees, medical care and clothing. I am also happy that my skills in better farming methods, computer, internet, mobile phone use and radio presentations have increased my networking opportunities and I can speak confidently as well as stand for political elective positions” (for more of this story visit – http://bit.ly/2mAJolV)

Women are learning how to weave using pictures as an ICT medium for social economic empowerment. They are increasingly raising their voices in their different capacities to engage leaders using mobile phones and radio talk shows to demand action towards improved service delivery. All these examples clearly show how ICTs are important in development.

WOUGNET also celebrated Kubere Information Center (KIC) in Apac and her role in empowering rural women. KIC is a multi-dimensional information center offering development oriented information with emphasis on agricultural information. The center’s Primary target are rural women farmers in Apac district. In the twitter chat staff pointed out how KIC has provided women with relevant and simplified agricultural information, produced and disseminated local agricultural content on radio and audios. KIC also builds women’s capacity to use ICT tools like mobile phones and computers through its training programs. Women around KIC especially those who work and live around the market area have benefited greatly from the information Centre.

Responses indicated that women’s role in promoting good governance and service delivery is relatively well played as; Women willingly include themselves in activities under projects of transparency and accountability, they are good mobilisers of community engagement activities, they use different ICT tools to get information to point out and report poor service delivery among others. Women vie for leadership positions in their communities therefore actively being instruments of change.

Rural women have made a remarkable effort in developing their local communities and themselves. They have embraced projects that aim at improving service delivery in their communities, eagerly learnt how to use different ICT tools for agriculture and entrepreneurship for social economic empowerment.

By the end of the twitter chat, 127929 impressions were made, we also had 7389 reaches, 53.3% shared original posts, 34.9% Retweets, 11.8% Replies. Sentiments were 30.3% positive, 5.3% negative and 64.5% neutral. The posts made in that hour were 152 by 20 users with demographics of 12.5% males and 87.5% female.

WOUGNET continues to work with various partners in the agricultural and rural development sectors. Gratitude goes to; CTA, RUFORUM, Mak Cocis, Mak CAES, DIMITRA, ARF, HIVOS, UCC, NEPAD, SPIDER, SIDA, INDIGO and District Local Governments of Gulu, Apac, Kole, Oyam, Amuru, Tororo, Palisa, and Busia.

Compiled by
Patricia Nyasuna- Programs Asst. Gender & ICT Policy Advocacy