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The Importance of Social Media Management to Organisations

Credit: Air Web Solutions

Social media symbolises computer technologies, internet-based that facilitate sharing, dissemination and impartation of information, ideas and thoughts. Numerous social media platforms have cropped up over the years such as Facebook, Youtube, WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn. These social media platforms have led to the connectedness of communities through information sharing that has immensely contributed to making the world a digital global village. Social media has revolutionized how organisations—big or small work to the extent of boosting collaborations and innovations in societies through the promotion of organisations’ visibility and digital interactions globally. 


New techniques have emerged on social media usage over the years and hence the need for social media training on management in order for its full benefits to be realised by organisations.

Social media management involves analysing social media audiences and developing a strategy that's tailored to the audience, creating and distributing content for social media profiles, monitoring online conversations, collaborating with influencers, and providing community service. It also includes engaging and interacting with social media users. 

Online social sites are cost-effective initiatives. It’s free to join social media networks, post content, respond to user comments, and more. Even social media advertising offers a profitable channel for reaching your audience and building an online following. Traditional marketing and advertising can’t match the reach or price of social media. That’s why social media management is a must for organisations and businesses.

Social platforms offers organisations a tremendous opportunity to grow and network hence creating more opportunities for themselves. However, It’s a challenge, though, for many organisations, especially small-to-mid sized organisations, to set aside the time and resources for social media management hence the need for social media management training.

Under the project “Strengthening Women’s Livelihoods and Magnifying Resilience to COVID-19 Emergency by Promoting Effective Use of Digital Technologies in Uganda (SMILE)” being implemented by Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) in partnership with 20 of its member organisations to promote a conducive digital working environment for her staff and beneficiaries; WOUGNET with support from Association for Progressive Communications (APC) conducted a social media management training to its member organisations in order for them to realise the full benefits of social media and its importance to their day to day operations.

This training has led to an increased number of women-led organisations to meaningfully access and use social media for their development and the visibility of their organisations through information sharing and networking.

Carol Nyagoma, the Executive Director of Warm Hearts Foundation stated that,

“Our lives begin to end when we become silent on things that matter; SPEAK UP!” is one of the very many messages that have been shared on our various social media platforms courtesy of the internet data given to us every month! After being assured of this offer from WOUGNET, Warm Hearts Foundation came up with “Men’s Monday” and “Women’s Wednesday” where we create, post, and share specific messages addressed to different focus groups, across our social media platforms. These messages are mainly purposed to empower different categories of people, especially women whose voices need more amplification as seen in the flyer below.

Conclusion

Technological advancement has changed almost every sphere of human life in many different dimensions and digital innovations have created a pathway to global development through simplifying business transactions and connecting communities. Organisations can therefore adopt different social media strategies as a means to network, share information, create visibility and carryout fundraising initiatives that eventually leads to their development hence the need for constant social media management trainings.

Written by Peter Ongom

Program Officer, Information Sharing and Networking


How the COVID-19 Pandemic has Impacted Digital Transformation for Women-led Organisations?

Caption: WOUGNET’s visit to one of its Member Organisation

Integrating digital technology into all areas, especially for women-led organisations has fundamentally changed how they operate and deliver value to communities. With the growing trends, digital technologies are widely perceived as a promising means to promote access to information for organisations. On the other hand, the effects of the pandemic have been severe and have mostly affected women-led organisations, for instance, some have closed their offices because of operational costs, and today, a vast portion of the workforce from different organizations still work remotely.

On the contrary, the Coronavirus disease, 2019 (COVID-19) crisis accelerated digitalisation processes for different sectors around the globe through the requirements for social distancing and other COVID-19-related regulations imposed by governments around the world. Many organisations use social media, emails, online conferencing tools such as zoom, google meet, and many other communication tools to access information, etc. 

In addition to the lockdown, “the uncertainity of when we would resume to the old way of doing things gave us some lessons that we learned about how far digital transformation can potentially impact the work that we do,”says Albert Taremwa. 


Digital Transformation 

The Digital Uganda Vision according to the Ministry of ICT & National Guidance, aims to align ICT investments in the various sectors in a manner that will improve the country’s Global ICT indices for purposes of attracting investors. Therefore, the higher use of digital technology during the COVID-19 lockdown for communication shows the great potential to aid faster economic recovery and strengthen resilience against similar shocks which in return is advantageous even for women-led organisations.  Although, at the moment, access to digital technologies remains limited for many organisations, which find technology to be unaffordable as well as high data costs which infringe the work that they do. By January 2022, the Digital 2022 Uganda report says that there are 10.92 million people who access the internet compared to a total population of 47.77 million.  Therefore, the perception is that 33.85 million people in Uganda do not use the internet. This means that 70.9% of the population had no access which is caused by lack of access to mobile phones, because of partly a function of the high cost of devices and services such as the mobile data and airtime. The role of digital transformation in women-led organizations is essential for the work they do for instance for communication, advocacy, collaborations, innovation, experience especially for staff to effectively and efficiently work, and many others.

Impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on women-led organisations 

The COVID-19 crisis has changed how women-led organisations work.  This is evidenced by most of our member organizations, for instance, Warm hearts Foundation, Ntulume Village Women Development Association (NVIWODA), and many others. Although the pandemic dramatically changed how they work, it has also uncovered new opportunities for visibility in the online space. Although digital transformation looks different for every organisation, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many women-led organisations to speed up transformation work, though some are still left out because of various factors like lack of digital technologies and skills as well as experiences with digital technologies, especially for their staff and beneficiaries. 

Albert Taremwa, the Executive Director of LOSCO during one of WOUGNET’s visits said, 

“LOSCO has successfully held several engagements with women and male counterparts in building their capacities to effectively use digital spaces for information sharing. Some of the factors hindering the accessibility of the internet to women range from cultural, economic, and infrastructural barriers boiling down to time, affordability, digital skills, service quality, and availability restrictions.”

Most commonly the impacts of the pandemic have accelerated the use of technology through more collaboration to improve employees' experience. This is because the majority of the employees still work remotely; this in return has increased partnerships which provide greater credibility and visibility.  Additionally, the broader public is more likely to pay attention to a group of organisations advocating for a particular cause. 

Lastly, the increased use of digital technology has left no option for organisations to increase their capacity and skills in different use of software and online tools. With more funding partners using online platforms, digital transformation has allowed women-led organisations to work efficiently and effectively.

By far, the most likely reason is that these organisations are embracing technology, and Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) is implementing the Strengthening Women’s Livelihoods and Magnifying Resilience to COVID-19 Emergency by Promoting Effective Use of Digital Technologies in Uganda (SMILE) project funded by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC).  This has enabled WOUGNET to work hand in hand with about twenty of her member organisations to quickly adapt to the trends of technology to meaningful promote connectivity among these organisations and reach out to their communities (both local and grassroots organisations and individuals).

Conclusion 

In response to the pandemic, organisations under this project have also embraced and integrated a strategic direction of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in all their initiatives as they support the delivery of the digital vision 2040. WOUGNET continues to work with its 20-member organisations to effectively use and encourage the adoption of emerging digital technologies in response to the digital transformation in Uganda. 

Written  by,

 Esther Nyapendi, Technical Support Officer

 


Recognising the unique Challenges faced by Women in Rural Areas: What does it take for Women to Access and Use the Internet in Uganda?

Even though the gender digital divide has been narrowing across all regions, women remain digitally marginalized in many of the world’s poorest countries, where online access could potentially have its most powerful effect. There are approximately 4.9 billion people online and 2.9 billion offline with the biggest percentage of those offline being the unprivileged communities, persons with disability, the rural poor, and rural elderly and these categories are majorly from developing countries. The digital divide often means a lack of access to broadband internet and access to wireless technologies such as Wi-Fi. 

Uganda being a low-income country and among the poorest in the world with 41.7% of the population living below the poverty line of less than 1 dollar per day subjects the country to an increasing digital divide. Therefore, this means a lack of income to purchase devices or bundles to access the internet, and the digital divide for women is further affected by three factors: digital access, their gender being female, and being in rural areas. The coronavirus disease of 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has highlighted difficulties of digital access, and this tremendously affected the digital experience of women in the rural areas through limited access to digital technologies, lack of skills, motivation, emotions, and utility which then causes the triple digital divide.  


Firstly, access to mobile phones is very vital because they are essential mediators of society's daily practices to enhance communication and seek information. Access to information is more efficient and only possible for those that live in the urban areas more than those that live in the rural areas because of several factors like slow or no internet connectivity, limited electronic devices, and many others.

Another gap affecting women in rural areas that hinders engagement with digital technologies is related to the digital skills and capacities needed to use these devices, services, and platforms. As mentioned before, because women are constrained from even access to the digital technologies which society frames, it's the work of the women to only do unpaid care work and not to be involved in public domain employment. 

Two closely related barriers which are “emotions” and” motivations” have affected the digital practices of women experienced in their daily use of the internet and digital devices. Therefore, emotions affect the motivations and interests of women in society before and after using digital technologies. Examples include anxiety, cyber-harassment, etc.

Lastly, utility comes from the experiences of the pandemic, the internet's importance is huge and still growing. Arguably, it's never been more essential than in the past few years, as communities find it as the only tool that eases collaborations and communication. On the contrary, it is still a discussion if the internet is an essential utility which then does not reduce the digital gap.

The internet being a crucial component of technology in the information age, can be used to access information, and support human communication via social media, and electronic mail. According to the women that WOUGNET engaged during the Information Communication Technology (ICT) training conducted in partnership with the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) as part of the COVID-19 women’s resilience in Uganda, it was reported that the internet can be an enabler for women’s empowerment through communication with one another. This is because the digital revolution has changed the way we work.  One of the participants reported that the internet helps to access information and helps them connect with each other and so communication becomes another method of electronically sharing or storing data. “Women being primary players in the farming industry, ICTs have improved their lives in many ways, from monitoring crops and animals to tracking market prices and also spreading good practices to facilitating access to different services such as banks and so many others,” she added.  

Particularly in the case of women who play a fundamental role in agricultural production, access to ICTs can help improve the lives of their families, from the incomes generated ensuring the sustainability of lives in the rural areas.


The use of ICTs is becoming increasingly common, however, women are often prohibited from accessing and using the technologies because of prevailing cultural practices and complex forms of technology. In doing so, different approaches to narrowing the digital divide have been discussed with some of the women in the grassroots during WOUGNET’s visits to her 20 member organisations spread across the country to train them on digital skills and provide mobile phones in addition to the provision of monthly internet bundles from December 2021 until now.  


Recommendations 


In order for women to access and use ICT tools and the internet in the rural areas, there is a need to provide the right blend of technologies, especially for women in rural areas that are suited to local needs. This will enable them to access information from blended approaches, such as radios and mobile telephones. This will in long run support the relevant use of technologies to communicate and share ICT experiences in agriculture, and entrepreneurship and serve better different users. 

The need to be gender sensitive in terms of rights to access and ownership of devices to reduce the gender inequalities in the digital space, especially to reduce the gap between urban and rural populations. Having digital inclusion policies with gender perspectives should be promoted to enable men and women to access and use ICTs equally. 

Build partnerships with different entities such as the local private companies, producer organizations, and community-based and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to provide information and good quality services to women especially those that own small businesses, farmers, etc. to expand their market and improve on the different sustainable practices.

In a nutshell, WOUGNET continues to work in partnerships with government entities, local and international civil society organisations, and communities to address the challenges faced by women in rural areas to enhance their access and use of ICT tools and the internet. One of the strategies to ascertain this has been through the implementation of the Strengthening Women’s Livelihoods and Magnifying Resilience to COVID-19 Emergency by Promoting Effective Use of Digital Technologies in Uganda (SMILE) project funded by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) which focuses on access and use of digital technologies and software, providing internet access to women and women’s rights organisations to reduce the triple divide: digital, rural, and gender.

 Caption: Digital Literacy Training by WOUGNET


Written  by Esther Nyapendi, SMILE Project lead: Technical Support officer


Freedom of Opinion and Expression Online is a Human Right even with Disinformation in the Digital Age

According to the mandate established by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, a special rapporteur is expected to gather information relating to violations of the right on freedom of opinion and expression, threats or use of violence and perception or intimidation of people seeking to exercise or promote the right to FoOE. As an organization that promotes the right to FoOE, WOUGNET submitted a report to the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression with a focus on the issue of disinformation and freedom of opinion and expression to aid her upcoming report to the Human Rights Council, to be presented in June 2021. WOUGNET gave different examples of disinformation that were approved by investigative channels like PesaCheck, challenges raised by disinformation, examples of disinformation that happened during the general elections, policies, and regulations that are put in place to counteract disinformation and the dangers associated with these legal and regulatory frameworks. The report highlighted the rights of Ugandans that were violated in the quest to eradicate disinformation. This included a brutal arrest and treatment of journalists, closure of social media pages for those in support for the opposition parties especially the National Unity Platform (NUP), the total shut down of the internet during the 2021 general elections following the directive of the Uganda Communications Commission. This action prohibited people from accessing information which is a fundamental right as stipulated by article 41 of the constitution of Uganda. Internet shut down further hindered the freedom of opinion and expression which gives mandate to people to participate in all democratic processes and the mandate to enjoy further human rights in light of the international human rights and standards. In order to promote and protect the rights of freedom of expression and opinion in the 2026 elections, WOUGNET suggested some recommendations for the Special Rapporteur on how to protect and promote the right to freedom of opinion and expression while addressing disinformation. These included and not limited to the following; the government should educate and engage the public about how to discern fake news online and how-to fact-check, as opposed to using broad and vague criminal laws against the public as the only solution, Uganda should Repeal Section 171 of the Penal Code and promote societal resilience to disinformation by developing and implementing nationwide civic education and empowerment programs, alongside multi-stakeholder groups, including CSOs and media actors, Human rights defenders and activists should promote the implementation of the Joint Declaration on Freedom of Expression And “Fake News”, Disinformation and Propaganda which highlights that the human right to impart information and ideas is not limited to correct statements.

Image Courtesy of University of Rhode Island

Written by Nampiima Maria Gorret, Program Assistant; Information Sharing and Networking Program. 

The Role of Social Media: An enabler in Voicing Women’s concerns in the Digital Age

WOUGNET being an organization that embraces the significance and impact of ICT in empowering women for sustainable Development, it invests in managing its social media platforms as a crucial factor in amplifying its mission and vision. Throughout the first quarter, WOUGNET has used its social media platforms as a tool to advocate for the digital rights for all especially women’s rights online through timely engagement with its audience on its social media platforms.  Following the trend of  the 2011 and 2016 internet shut down that was declared around the election time, WOUGNET joined Access now and other organizations that value digital rights to write an open letter of appeal to the president of Uganda claiming for internet freedom and other digital communications tools during the 2021 general election. WOUGNET further used its Twitter account to run the #KeepItOn campaign that initiated by Access Now to ensure increased participation and transparency in Uganda’s presidential elections. In this campaign, we tasked the government to ensure that internet freedom including social media and other digital communication platforms remained open, inclusive and secure across the country throughout the election period.

As a member of the Women’s Situation Room steering committee, WOUGNET used its social media handles to promote peace during the 2021 general elections. As the entire world celebrated the International Data Privacy Day on the 28th of January 2021, WOUGNET, used its social media handles to call upon women to ensure their safety and privacy online using the #OwnYourPrivacy hashtag and also provided them with information on how to ensure their privacy. WOUGNET has used its social media platforms to promote the work of other digital rights and Women Rights organizations as a sign of solidarity with a noble cause of creating a sense of need to embrace ICT for women and promotion of digital rights in general. This has been achieved through retweeting and sharing trending campaigns and/or Hashtags that are being run by other organizations for example #ICT4dev.

In celebration of the International Women’s Day (#IWD2021), WOUGNET used its social media platforms to join various of organizations to celebrate the international women’s day by engaging in the #IChooseToChallenge2021 campaign.  WOUGNET also participated in an online session in which the Executive Director shared knowledge on how to engage better with social media and ICTs in collaboration with the #UNMerit, #SITE4Society and Friend in Need India and also used it as a platform to share WOUGNET’s work on the topic of digitalization and violence against women and girls. As a result of our prompt and efficient engagement in social media platforms especially twitter which is a highly embraced social media platform for advocacy campaigns, by 16th March, 2021 WOUGNET had reached 5000+ followers on twitter. The increase of followers on our twitter platform indicates an increase in the visibility and impact of WOUGNET’s efforts in reaching our mission to promote and support the use of ICTs among women and women’s rights organizations in Uganda for sustainable development.

Written by Nampiima Maria Gorret, Program Assistant; Information Sharing and Networking Program. 

Championing Peace and Security by Women and Youth during Uganda’s 2021 General Elections

As a member of the 2021 Women’s Situation Room (WSR) steering Committee, WOUGNET played a critical role in mobilizing women and youth in Kampala to ensure their active participation in promoting peace before, during, and after elections. The WSR is a non-partisan mechanism that was launched in the 2011 elections in Liberia and later Senegal, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, and Uganda in 2016. The mechanism works with the electoral commission, national security organs, political party leaders, human rights commissions, and civil society organizations to ensure peace before, during, and after elections. WOUGNET facilitated the training of 50 youth and 50 women from Kampala with representatives from the informal and formal sector to become advocates of peace, a process that promoted their leadership in conflict resolution and peacebuilding. WOUGNET similarly coordinated the peace activities that were implemented by the youth and women peace advocates in the areas of Kamwokya, Rubaga, Central Division, Kawempe, Makerere University. During a follow-up meeting to access the impact of the peace advocates and the challenges they faced, a number of success stories were registered. As an example, Kyomugisha Olivia, a youth peace advocate who resides in the ghetto areas of Kawempe promoted peace during the election period by conducting peace dialogues with youth in her community like boda-boda riders, youth out of school who were most likely to engage in violent acts by using games like Ludo as a mobilizing strategy.

She stated that,

I went to the trading center with my board game for Ludo while wearing my WSR t-shirt to meet the youth, and the moment they saw me, they joined me to play thus giving me a ground to preach about peace”.

Olivia went an extra mile to mobilize a team of young girls in her community who joined her to hang and hold charts with peace messages at the polling station which could have been one of the contributing factors to a peaceful election in her community. In addition to that, the training empowered women to exercise their leadership skills and further enabled them to command respect in society. A case in point is Nakato Florence, one of the women peace advocates who operates an informal business in Wandegeya. After the elections, Florence took the initiative to promote peace among the youths including drug addicts that always gather around her business area. She reported that they were threatening to cause violence in protest against the election outcomes which they considered to be unfair. According to Florence, it was not a one-off achievement but a process of negotiation and counseling backed up by the knowledge she had acquired from the training, her efforts were later recognized by the police Officer in Charge of the area who also commended her work and also agreed to take WSR’s free toll number.

She exclaimed that, “…because of this experience, I feel respected in the area where I work”.

WOUGNET’s engagement in the empowerment of women and youth in the election processes promoted peace and active citizenship during the election period which is a fundamental key to the social, political, and economic development of Uganda.

Written by Nampiima Maria Gorret, Program Assistant; Information Sharing and Networking Program.