Author Archives: The Story Teller
Poverty can be defined not only as the lack of incomes but also the lack of means to satisfy basic social needs as well as feeling powerless to break out of the cycle of poverty, insecurity of a person and property. Poverty has faces and is caused by factors including among others inadequacies in access to natural resources, human factors, financial assets, social capital and physical infrastructure
Uganda remains one of the poorest countries of the world. Poverty level was recorded at 31.1% in 2006according to the UNDP 2006, Uganda Human Development Report ranking. In terms of numbers, over 7 million people live in chronic poverty according to a research on chronic poverty. Poverty is also mainly a rural phenomenon with 48% of the rural population living below the absolute poverty line compared to 16% of the urban dwellers.
It is important to note that the greatest percentage of the rural population is composed of women. Women are said to be the poorest of the poor. This highlights the significance of addressing gender dimensions of poverty and the fact that poverty has increasingly become feminised. However, poverty cannot be universalised and has different dimensions. In Uganda the principle dimensions of poverty include gender, livelihood, location and seasonality.
Gender disparities exist in education, mortality rates, health and other social and economic indicators and are greatest within poorer income groups. Gender inequalities impose large costs on the well-being and health of the poor, diminishing productivity and the potential to reduce poverty and ensure economic growth. In most societies women have more limited opportunities to improve economic conditions and access services than men do. Usually women and girls bear the brunt of gender inequalities
In regard to division of labour, women provide 70% of agricultural labour force and are responsible for 80% of food production and all production processes and like else where in the world, women in Uganda have limited access to land and other resources, little control of the existing resources or of the income realised from the sale of these products including surplus from sale of food crops where labour input is highest. Women’s dependence reduces their contribution to the reduction of household poverty.
Women also lag behind in terms of education levels and participation in community development activities due to lack of mobilisation, time and failure to see the benefits of participation. Approaches to poverty therefore need to take into account the different needs of women and men and involve women as subjects in economic initiatives and in planning and implementation of development initiatives for drastic changes to be realised in poverty eradication.
Violence against women continues to be widespread and socially tolerated despite the fact that it’s a human rights violation. Domestic violence disempowers women and negatively affects women’s health and productivity sometimes resulting into death. In addition, the cost to women, their children, families and communities is a significant obstacle to reducing poverty, achieving gender equality and ensuring a peaceful transition for post-conflict societies.
Violence against women has as its root in the structural inequalities between men and women that result in the persistence of power differentials between the sexes. Women’s subordinate status to men in many societies, coupled with a general acceptance of interpersonal violence as a means of resolving conflict, renders women disproportionately vulnerable to violence from all levels of society: individual men, within the family and community, and by the state (ACGSD 2009).
In Uganda many women and girls in Uganda suffer from sexual and gender-based violence committed by state actors, military services and rebel armies, as well as non-state actors within the family and the community. The persistence of patriarchal patterns of behaviour and the existence of stereotypes relating to the role of women perpetuate the discrimination of women within Ugandan society. The difficulties women face are not only due to intimidation, hostility and ridicule from the community, but also due to the states inaction in ensuring redress.
ICTs can play a major role in combating VAW and a number of women’s organisations are making use of ICTs such as the internet, TV, radio, news papers and other print media to highlight VAW including rape, victimisation and harassment.
The Internet can be a useful tool to get information about gender based violence as well as raise awareness around such issues to the general public and global community. Mobile phones provide women with an opportunity to avoid being domesticated by opening links with the outside world for business, social networking and reporting or obtaining support in abusive relationships. Internet and email can be also be instrumental in mobilising to advocate against violation of collective and individual rights.
On the other hand ICTs have been can perpetrate violence against women e.g. through spousal control of the mobile telephone, fights, invasion of privacy, monitoring and control, etc
 ACGSD (2009), Draft Situational Analysis in Gender Based Violence
Feminist Practice of Technology is a growing idea that gives perspectives on technology. It poses questions and defines issues relating to technology from feminist perspectives, taking into account various women’s realities, women’s relationships with technologies, women’s participation in technology development and policy-making, power dynamics in technologies and feminist analysis of the social effects of technologies.
It is also an approach to training that defines the core values that comprise feminist technology training. It is based on the experiences of women and feminists in and with technology training.
What has technology got to do with it?
Online spaces reflect real life situations right from how technology is made- programming to using the device. Women still have no control over the use of technologies and there is need for them to take up the spaces. Given the great role of ICTs in transmitting essential information for development, and offering new opportunities; use cell phones to send messages. There is need to think about the actual design of the tech, language etc and take up these spaces just as on the streets.
What’s gender got to do with it?
Online spaces reflect real life aspects of inequality
- Technology has resulted in new issues for women and in new permutations of women’s issues
- New avenues for abuse, entrenching inequalities and marginalizing already silenced voices
- Technology provides new solutions and approaches to addressing women’s issues;
- Asks how women’s realities influence how technologies are developed, used, appropriated and benefited from
- Asks how technologies are changing women’s realities
- Assessing how they can be developed and appropriated to support and facilitate women’s rights agendas
To View the video Click Here
Source: WOUGNET Feminist eXchange Training
Uganda woke up to a surprise with one of its former Army Commanders and a major general murdered by a lover in Namuwongo, a suburb in Kampala. The death of the general attracted many headlines in the mainstream media such as ….general dies in ‘Kandaha’, a lion killed by a rat! Name it….. The lady who confessed to the crime in self defence was first charged with the crime of Manslaughter but has now been remanded in prison with charges of murder.
The death has left so many questions with some indicating that the cruel some murder that left one of Uganda’s Giants dead was a planned plot aided by assailants after the general’s life. It’s unclear whether a lowly woman could have murdered a general who fought fierce battles for years and retired unhurt. This has also left a lot of debates given that such murders have in the past been committed by mainly men. Am sure women advocates on Violence Against Women will face challenges trying to convince the public that men are the perpetrators of VAW. And sure will not be surprised if an organization fighting against VAM crops up. The truth about the motive behind the murder or death is known to only Lydia who whether in self defence or with motives to steal or hurt the general is likely to spend rest of her life in prison and more so that she killed a lion. The truth is yet to be established but in case it was self defence will she find justice given that she is a low class woman who could hardly get a lawyer to represent her?
A friend introduced me to a concept I had never thought of and this drove me quick to think about this incidence and write this article…. ‘The Battered Woman’s Syndrome! Inquisitive to know what this really means ‘Jane’ (not real name), told me that battered women may keep their anger and succumb to abuse for along time but when it erupts one may be shocked at the outcome no matter how weak they are!
Could the death of one of Uganda’s Lions been an outcome of the battered Woman’s syndrome? Not sure but the power relations between the two was too unequal and this cannot be ruled out! A rich educated, military giant, with power and status in society Vs a poor woman whose background little is known, with little or no education, staying in a two bedroomed house sponsored by the general, no job and indentified as a sex worker etc Whether in self defence or not sure poor Lydia will rot in prison having touched one of the untouchable! Still watching this space! Still watching this space!
People running with hands lifted up, blocked road and people stranded in traffic, school children stranded at their schools, burning vehicles, hit and run battles between Baganda youth not excluding the injured and dead etc were all scenes in Kampala.
Thursday 10th to Saturday 12th September 2009 have been days of running battles between the government (police) and Baganda loyalists over the refusal to allow the Kabaka (Buganda’s traditional king) to visit Kayunga, a district said to be having minority Baganda. This did not only bring business to a stand still and force people to stay in their homes but has lead to the closure of three radio stations, arrest of one journalist and burning of Ebimeeza (radio broadcast forums where people meet on weekends to discuss currents issues).
The Ebimeeza are forums that have given Ugandans the ability to easily and quickly transmit their opinions on public policy or any current issues hence have increased the role of citizens in influencing policy making, (call it citizen Journalism).
While not condoning riots, the closure of media houses and arrest of journalists confirms that journalism freedom is still limited. As much as Uganda may boost or be rated among the 15 countries in Africa with the freest press, liberalized airwaves and open space for discussion in the public, the extent to which this true is limited to whether what is being reported or discussed threatens government’s sovereignty.
Burning of Ebimeeza has implications to the growth of citizen journalism in the country and the continued closure of media houses and arrest of journalist infringes on the right to freedom of expression and freedom of the media to inform or educating the public.
Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) is a broad concept that encompasses a wide range of ICTs such as computers, mobile phones, radios, CD Roms etc. Uganda’s ICT Policy defines ICTs as technologies that provide an enabling environment for physical infrastructural and services development for generation, transmission, processing, storing and disseminating information in all forms including voice, text, data, graphics and video. The policy has three areas of focus, namely, information as a resource for development, mechanisms for accessing information, and ICT as an industry, including e-business, software development and manufacturing.
In essence, the ICT policy framework defines the operations of ICT related activities and provides broad guidelines for operation in mainly three areas; telecommunication, broadcasting and Internet. Indeed, a well developed ICT policy would provide significant opportunities for all citizens including poor men and women to access information that is relevant to enhancement of their socioeconomic and political lives.
ICTs are widely recognised as key tools that can enable the participation of poor women and men in economic and civic life and help them to move out of poverty. Eighty-seven percent of Uganda’s population lives in rural areas and ICTs have a great role to play in providing rural populations with education and training, job opportunities, access to markets, social services and other information relevant to their economic enhancement and effective participation in political processes.
Why Engender ICTs?
Gender is a social construct specifying the socially and culturally prescribed roles that men and women are to follow in a given society. Therefore gender determines the social roles, responsibilities and relationships and privileges between men and women in a given society. In this case, gender determines access, utilization and application of ICT among men and women. Much of the benefits and potential of ICTs remains untapped especially for groups experiencing time constraints, social isolation, lack of access to knowledge and productive resources and women in developing countries have been identified among the most affected groups.
In Uganda, women’s awareness and usage of ICTs is nearly three times less than that of men and their access to ICTs is constrained by;
- Inadequate technological infrastructure in rural areas
- Social and cultural bias
- Low levels of education and skills
- Lack of disposable income to purchase technology services
- Limitation of the media.
- Lack of Gender Disaggregated Data (GDD)
Available evidence indicates that without explicit articulation of gender in policies, gender issues and concerns are not likely to be considered during implementation. Moreover, policy making in technological fields had been noted to ignore the needs, requirements and aspirations of women unless gender analysis is included. As such, without specific attention and action, there would be no equitable distribution of benefits for men and women, with women often disadvantaged.
Whereas the draft national ICT policy framework recognizes gender mainstreaming as one of its objectives, it is important to understand that gender is a cross cutting issue that should not be addressed in isolation. As such, deliberate efforts should be undertaken to mainstream gender in all the strategies. It is also important to note that to achieve the desired results, gender concerns should be explicitly addressed in all policy processes including policy elaboration, implementation and evaluation. This calls for the development of gender-monitoring indicators to measure impact from the gender perspective. Gender and development policy makers also need to develop a dialogue with IT policy makers to ensure that the proposed strategies are implemented.
Women remain the main contributors to agricultural production, and in many societies they are responsible for ensuring that food for their families is on the table. Providing women with relevant information on agriculture is a very important strategy to improving productivity and livelihoods.
“e-Agriculture” is an emerging field comprising the enhancement of agriculture and rural development through improved information exchange, communication and learning processes, based on the use of internet and other digital technologies by actors in agriculture locally, regionally and worldwide.
Civil society organisations have embarked on using ICTs to enable women/rural communities to access information on how to improve on the quality of their products, acquire improved seeds and crop varieties, source of inputs, diseases and pests control, soil management and conservation and how to improve their production skills. In Uganda they include among others WOUGNET that has an information centre in Northern Uganda, BROSDI- CELAC project based in Mayuge, CEEWA Uganda – Wires project with beneficiaries in Nakaseke, Buwama and other areas. RANET-Uganda and ARENET are other initiatives that make use ICTs to promote agricultural production.
Radio programmes, use of SMS as well as audiotapes, video tapes and CD-ROMs are used to disseminate/share agricultural related information to farmers. Websites are also increasingly being used to disseminate information on market prices, trade support services, business and entrepreneurship tips, best practices in Agriculture etc.
The Radio and Internet Program (RANET) provides information on weather, water, and climate to rural and remote populations in the form of environmental forecasts, observations, and warnings in the hope of promoting sustainable development and reducing disaster losses. In Uganda the RANET programme is implemented by the meteorological department.
E-Agriculture presents an opportunity of increasing income and reducing poverty among rural communities and women; there is need for more e-agriculture projects to be set up in rural areas given that they depend largely on agriculture.
It is widely acknowledged that ICT presents unique and timely opportunities for women and girls. It promises better economic prospects, fuller political participation, communication with the outside world, easy access to information, and an enhanced ability to acquire education and skills and to transcend social restrictions. ICT is especially important to poor women because it can provide increased access to resources, the absence of which defines poverty. Hence, ICTs are tools that facilitate access to a variety of development resources.
However, uneven distribution of ICT within societies and across the globe is resulting in a “digital divide” between those who have access to information resources and those who do not. Women’s access to ICTs is relatively low compared to that of men leading to a gender digital divide. In Uganda women’s awareness and usage of ICTs is nearly three times less than that of men (2006 ResearchICT Africa!).
A gendered division of labor is evident in the ICT sector and has resulted in women being mainly end users, taking up low skilled IT jobs, a small percentage of women engaging in maintenance and design of networks, operating systems or software development.
Women’s lower levels of literacy and education relative to men as well as negative attitudes towards girls’ achievement in science and mathematics, largely contribute to the gender dimensions of digital divide. Women’s lower degree of economic security than men and gender-related constraints on their time and mobility also limit their access, use and participation in shaping the course of ICTs compared to their male counterparts.
This calls for deliberate efforts to enable women benefit from ICTs, these include creating awareness about the benefits and opportunities offered by ICTs among women, building women/girls’ capacity in ICT use, setting up projects or initiatives aimed at increasing women’s access and use of ICTs, encouraging girls to take up science and IT courses as well as eliminating gender stereotypes and factors that prevent women taking up ICT opportunities.