I’m always delighted to come across organisations which are empowering women to make the changes they’d like to see in their own lives and communities. In Kampala, I was fortunate enough to visit Violet, Janet, Brenda and Goreti of WOUGNET (Women of Uganda Network). This is a local NGO which serves as a network for organisations which are empowering women (104 members). They are implementing in Northern, West and Central Uganda and are highly regarded among other civil society members that I spoke with. They utilise information technologies to support programmes across a range of sectors.
SPIDER has funded a project which uses ICTs to monitor local service delivery in 5 Districts in Northern Uganda in partnership with women’s groups. This enabled people to report corruption and challenges in local service delivery via SMS such as drug stock outs and bribes using Ushahidi. They were also trained to use cameras to collect video and photographic evidence and the internet to access information (communities have access to the internet via WOUGNET’s information centres).
This information is channelled to the Voluntary Social Accountability Network at Parish level which captures the information and reports via radio. They also have meetings and provide reports to policy makers at local and national level and also provide reports to NGOs (local and national) conducting advocacy work. In addition, they try and encourage communities to make on the ground change via their committees where they discuss the reports and go to the relevant authorities to demand change.
They support the agriculture sector via an information centre which provides farmers with relevant information including advice, books, videos and radio shows. These are accessed by farmers groups who deliver information to their members using mobile, local radio and face to face meetings. They’ve provided training on the use of mobiles for data capture and video/photographic footage on relevant issues and encourage entrepreneurs to find access to market and use their phone to stimulate business. They have a database of agri experts which can provide info via SMS or calls and they’ve expanded this service to health and nutritional information. They’ve also trained farmers in using the FIT Uganda platform to access market information and send weekly prices to farmers.
WOUGNET conduct advocacy via SMS in order to mobilise and strengthen their campaigns on issues such as encouraging people to use tech to end violence against women and protecting people in protests (e.g. Walk to work). They also train women’s groups on how to use phones, social media and radio for this purpose. They send messages to stimulate attitudinal change, then advice on how to get involved in a campaign and stimulate discussion. They ran a Take Back the Tech campaign which utilised social media training and online discussions.
WOUGENT have also taught youth how to use ICTs to access educational information, to raise awareness of issues affecting them (largely through social media) and for networking.
I was fortunate enough to meet with another inspiring NGO which is supporting women, ISIS WICCE. They focus on conflict, peace and human security. Their head office is in Uganda and they have 12 local staff. They work throughout Africa, with a large presence in the DRC, Uganda, Zambia and Namibia. Their head office is in Uganda and they have been operating since 1974.
They have collected a vast range of stories and data about the violations of women’s rights and the tremendous impact of conflict, exploring sensitive issues such as the impact of rape on HIV, physical damage to bodies, Female Genital Mutilation and Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission. They hope to digitise their data and package in it such a way that it can be used effectively for advocacy and awareness raising purposes. They’ve already used FrontlineSMS for messaging around rights and have taught women to blog about their experiences.