In an era where digital tools hold a lot of power and significance, access to information and the ability to express oneself online are crucial for women’s empowerment. However, in Uganda, structurally silenced women face unique challenges such as limited digital access, online harassment, and lack of digital literacy. Thus, it is important to equip women with skills to navigate the digital space safely and effectively while advocating for gender equality, especially structurally silenced women.
WOUGNET, under the Our Voices Our Futures (OVOF) project, organised a training workshop at Fairway Hotel, Kampala aimed at equipping structurally silenced women with valuable skills in digital security, safety, online campaigning and storytelling. The workshop was divided into two sessions each designed to equip and empower the participants in different ways of securely navigating the digital space.
In this blog, we delve into a deeper understanding of Digital security, Safety and Online campaigning and provide some tips on how to make these effective in an era where it is paramount to protect your data, and most importantly, your reputation.
Digital Security and Safety
Aidah Bukubuza, an expert in digital security and founder of Aydia Gender and Technology Initiative, defined Digital Security as the protection of one’s digital personality, thus it represents the physical identity on the internet. This involves mainly the protection of one’s digital devices, data and identity.
Data Security aims to prevent unauthorised access to sensitive information, ensure that information retains its accuracy, and ensure that digital resources and services are available when needed.
How to Ensure Digital Security
a)Encryption: this involves converting data into secure codes to protect it from unauthorised access. It is used to safeguard sensitive files on devices and financial data during and after transactions.
b)Firewalls: these are software applications designed to monitor and control incoming and outgoing network traffic. They detect and block unauthorised access or malicious activity. A common example is Proxy Firewalls.
c)Anti-virus & Anti-malware: these primarily focus on detecting viruses, spyware, Trojans and other malicious software that can compromise system security. Keep them updated regularly to stay protected against the latest threats. These include Super Anti-spyware, Hitman Pro, Kaspersky, Norton and Avast.
d)VPNs: these allow you to create a secure connection over the internet. It is used to protect your online privacy and secure your data while using public WI-FI. Some of these include Super VPN, Thunder VPN, Psiphon VPN and Secure VPN.
Aidah described Digital Safety as the practice of protecting oneself and one’s personal information while using digital devices, services and online platforms. It involves a set of behaviours, precautions and strategies aimed at minimising risks and potential harm when engaging with the digital world.
Digital Safety aims to protect personal information such as name, address, phone number, and financial details to prevent identity theft and privacy breaches.
How to Ensure Digital Safety
a)Adjust privacy settings on social media profiles and online accounts to control who can access your information and content.
b)Create strong and unique passwords for online accounts and regularly update them. You can use roman numerals and unique symbols.
c)Enable Two-Factor Authentication to add an extra layer of security to your online accounts.
d)Practise responsible and ethical behaviour while online, including refraining from cyberbullying, harassment, and other harmful online activities.
Online Gender-Based Violence
Aidah also provided insights on Online gender-based violence( forms and how to prevent them). According to Pollicy, eighteen percent of social media accounts belonging to women experience sexual violence compared to eight percent of those belonging to men. In a bid to prevent the different forms of OGBV such as cyberbullying, cyberstalking, doxxing, Non-Consensual Intimate Images, among others, participants were given tips on how to prevent some of these forms such as making social media accounts private, use of a VPN to encrypt all their online activities on digital devices, report online bullies, taking legal action in the case of NCII, and avoid sharing sensitive photos and videos.
Online Storytelling and Campaigning
Daphne Nakabugo, a human rights activist from DefendDefenders and facilitator of this session, defined Online Storytelling and Campaigning as the use of digital platforms such as social media, blogs and websites to promote a cause. This is usually in the form of text, videos, images and infographics.
It involves creating content, engaging with the target audience and using various digital platforms such as social media, blogs, YouTube, and Websites to influence opinions and actions. This is usually in the form of text, videos, images and infographics.
Additionally, Daphne provided insights on the challenges of online campaigning such as information overload which makes it hard for the information to reach the target audience, online harassment, and privacy concerns, among others.
Participants were also provided with knowledge on how to create impactful content and build online communities i.e. creating high-quality content using apps like Capcut, Kinemaster, consistency and always seeking feedback from their audience.
As WOUGNET continues to empower structurally silenced women on how to navigate the digital space safely, we look forward to a digital world where women’s voices shape policies, challenge norms and push for progress in society.
Written by Iryne Marunga; Communications Associate.