In order to ensure digital security and online safety, the Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) conducts digital security and online safety training for University students in Uganda, especially young women. During the commemoration of the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence last year, WOUGNET organized a digital security training at Kampala International University (KIU) in November 2018. In March 2019, training was conducted at Makerere University School of Women and Gender Studies and the International University of East Africa (IUEA) as part of the activities carried out by WOUGNET to celebrate International Women’s Day under the theme; “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change”.
According to UNESCO’s (2015) research report on combating online violence against women and girls, the findings indicate that the new muddle of cyber Violence Against Women and Girls could greatly increase. A total of 73 percent of women engaged in the study reported having been exposed to or experienced some form of online violence. This needs to be addressed if the internet is to remain a safe space for empowering all and achieving Sustainable Development Goal 5 of ensuring gender equality for all women and girls by 2030. According to sections 24 and 25 of the 2011 Computer Misuse Act of Uganda, a person found guilty of committing crimes using any ICT tool is liable of paying a fine not exceeding twenty-four currency points or imprisonment or both.
Awareness creation on the extent of technology-related violence in Uganda is led by WOUGNET. As a way of combating online VAWG, the training help participants deeply understand the existing forms of technology-related violence against women and girls. This issue according to WOUGNET, is an act of gender-based violence that is committed, or aggravated in part or fully by the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) such as phones, the internet, social media platforms, and email.
For more information about the issue, WOUGNET recommends participants to further read some of the existing ICTs laws and policies in Uganda such as the computer misuse act of 2011, the data protection and privacy bill 2015, the anti-pornography act of 2014, and the Penal code act.
The training empowers participants to be able to identify the various types of social engineering attacks, set up strong passwords and passphrases for their gadgets, back up data, and understand a secure way to browse the internet including the basic skills of digital literacy with more emphasis on how students can maximumly utilize the opportunities created by internet presence to make some small money while in and out of the university.
According to Letowon Saitoti, a senior tech support Officer at WOUGNET, a strong password does not depend on how complicated it is but on the nature of the characters that one uses and he gave an example of “I am the boy with SWagg?” which was tested to be the best password during the training. The majority of students had voted Pa55Word! as the best password but later turned out to be the easiest for hackers to crack after testing 8 passwords shared.
In his closing remarks, Doctor Emeka Akaezuwa the Vice Chancellor of IUEA commended WOUGNET for considering ICT as a key priority for economic development in the 21st century and encouraged students to go the extra mile and interface with ICT experts in the field. He also expressed concern for a few women being represented in the ICT fraternity and requested participants to encourage more women to join the technology space. He concluded by urging students to utilize the knowledge and skills they have acquired during the training and encouraged WOUGNET to keep up the good initiative being done to change the world.
Written by Amuku Isaac, Information Sharing and Networking (WOUGNET)