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Women’s Online Rights Siege by Internet Shutdowns-Why it Matters for Women's Freedom of Expression and Participation in Uganda

In Uganda, the use of the Internet and related technologies is...

In Uganda, the use of the Internet and related technologies is growing steadily with 18.9 million subscribers or 46 Internetu connections for every 100 Ugandans. Although the number of internet users has been increasing in Uganda over time, there have been disruptions to Internet access and use which affects women and other vulnerable groups in the society. Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET), with support from Global Network Initiative (GNI) and Internews in 2020 carried out a study to determine the impact of Internet shutdowns on women’s online participation and expression; and coping mechanisms adopted by women. The study conducted Key Informant Interviews, Focus Group Discussions, and Semi-Structured Questions to gather data. Findings show that shutdowns in Uganda have been noted to directly affect women’s ability to access and fully utilize opportunities presented by the Internet such as e-commerce, networking, political involvement, and social activism. Women reported financial and business losses (69%) due to shutdowns. Other effects included: limited access to e-money transfer services such as mobile money and e-banking, limited participation in politics, and non-online businesses transaction. The government must uphold the responsibility to ensure marginalized groups such as women and girls realize their freedoms of expression, association, access to information, political participation, and social development.

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