Women Confront VAW using ICTs: Experiences from remote and fishing community in Eastern Uganda

Loyce
Posted January 15, 2014 from Uganda
Women learning how to use a computer during the training
Women learning how to use a computer during the training
Women learning how to use a computer during the training (1/4)

I was privileged to coordinate a project on combating violence against women using ICTs. This project was in partnership with Association for Progressive Communication and Isis-WICCE. As part of the project activities, I conducted training on VAW and ICT with grassroots women in a remote and fishing community of Namaingo located on the shores of lake Victoria. For long fishing communities in Uganda have been marginalized and left out on many development aspects because of their remote locations. Because of this situation, there has been gross violations of human rights and widespread violence against women such as domestic violence, widow in-heritance and property grabbing, defilement among others.

During the training, a 59 year old participant shared an experience of how women in the olden days creatively used local platforms to combat violence against women. She shared that when she was growing up as a young girl, women used to look for a strategic location in the village which was usually an anthill. The woman would stand on top of the anthill and start shouting about the bad behaviors the husband has and she would say “my husband is bad, she beats me when I give meat to the children, he is a glutton, and he abuses me all the time...” This was to let every one in the village hear about her husband’s bad behaviors which would prompt the villagers to gossip about him, musicians would compose songs about his bad behaviors and he would be ashamed and eventually change his behaviors.

Today, technology has provided us with much more advanced platforms compared to an anthill such as mobile telephones, internet, computers where we can make noise about VAW so that the whole world can hear us. Unfortunately, most women lack the technical know-how and resources to access such tools and fully utilize, engage and participate.

This training on how to use ICTs to combat violence against women was an eye opener for the women in this communuty. During the training the women shared their fears, excitements andlearnings; “for me I have always seen a computer.. there is an NGO that gave our group a very big computer but we have never touched it because we feared it. Now that I have got the knowledge and the skills, when I go back, I will use it” said Lyaka Grace.

For Taaka Alice her excitement was beyond and she said “I am very excited to have touched a computer for the first time in my life., I have touched the mouse and I typed my name and my husband’s name and I was able to see them on the screen. Thank you for giving me this opportunity.” And Kintu Solome said “I used to think that computers are only for those people who are educated and are in big offices in Kampala but today I have realized that I can also use a computer”.

With regards to mobile telephony, while most of us assume that everyone who owns a mobile phone can be able to use the basic applications in it, this not a reality. Egesa Rose from Sigulu Islands was awakened on how little she knew after learning about mobile phone applications “I have always had a mobile phone, I have been using it to call and check the time only but it is today that I have learnt that I can use it to send a short message to my people which is even cheaper”

Much as they were excited about the new tools, the training enabled them to understand the linkage between VAW and ICT and how to ICT to overcome VAW. Perusi Onyango an elderly lady lammented that “men buy mobile phones for their wives to control them. If a man calls the wife and she does not answer the call immediately, she will be asked to explain what she was doing and she will be beaten. Remember, at times the wife might be in the garden digging or in the kitchen cooking”.

And for Barbara, her learning was that “much as these telephones have caused violence against women in some circumstances, I have learnt that we can use the same phones to send messages to the men who violate women’s rights to educate them about VAW”.

The women for the first time were able to see and use internet by searching the web and opening up their first email addresses, a group email(tumbulawomen@yahoo.com) and a group blog where they share their stories (http://tumbula.wordpress.com/). To most of them, they imagined that internet was a building in Kampala(the capital city of Uganda) while others thought internet is a human being. This is a reflection of total ignorance or lack of any knowledge of such tools.

After the training, the women ran an SMS campaign using Frontline SMS software. They sent out bulk SMS to different local leaders, clan leaders and the general public condemning acts of violence against women in the community and bringing the perpetrators to court. Mariam Adwori one of the grassroots women activists reported that there was a case of a woman whose husband cut her hands because she went to a political campaign rally without informing him. When we heard about it we sent out messages to the local leaders and the police. The case was handled.”

The SMS campaign on Violence against women in Namayingo has helped to awaken local leaders, clan leaders and the community at large on the issues of violence against women and the messages are sent in the local language.

WWW: Women Weave the Web

Comments 32

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LeanaM
Jan 15, 2014
Jan 15, 2014

Thank you for sharing this experience! It's great to hear that you worked with the APC, who is one of our campaign partners. I wanted to read the ladies' blog, but I think the link might be wrong. Could you please check if it's the right link so that we can read the blog of the Tumbula Women?

Lovely story -

Loyce
Feb 03, 2014
Feb 03, 2014
LeanaM
Feb 04, 2014
Feb 04, 2014

I'd also love it if you could keep sharing some of the content to World Pulse and the Women Weave the Web campaign!

Loyce
Jan 15, 2014
Jan 15, 2014

Dear Leana,

Thank you too for your reply and for pointing out the blog address. There was a mistake in typing which I forgot to correct. The correct address is: http://tumbula.wordpress.com/

Loyce

LeanaM
Jan 22, 2014
Jan 22, 2014

Thank you, looks great!

Yvette Warren
Jan 21, 2014
Jan 21, 2014

I love the story about the anthill! It is so interesting that you have connected the anthills and technology in your story. Very creative and captivating!

Loyce
Jan 21, 2014
Jan 21, 2014

Hi Y,

Thank you for appreciating. Women are naturally creative and innovative.

PrincessLala
Jan 21, 2014
Jan 21, 2014

Thank you, Loyce, for sharing this story and including such beautiful pictures.

I am deeply moved by the picture of the woman in the training; one hand pointing to the screen and the other attending to her baby. It captures, for me, the amazing strength of a woman.

I am thrilled to hear of women being exposed to technology for the first time.

Loyce
Jan 21, 2014
Jan 21, 2014

The women were amazing and I enjoyed training them. They were very enthusiastic, energetic and intelligent.

Kika Katchunga
Jan 22, 2014
Jan 22, 2014

Bon travail ma soeur loyce Courage

Loyce
Feb 11, 2014
Feb 11, 2014

Cher Sylivie

Merci pour vos encouragements

Julie Collura
Jan 22, 2014
Jan 22, 2014

Wonderful work, Loyce! Thank you for sharing.

Loyce
Feb 11, 2014
Feb 11, 2014

Thank you too for appreciating! We need to bring grassroots women into the global village. Let us make it a reality. Alutta Continua!

Loyce
Jan 23, 2014
Jan 23, 2014

Thank you too for appreciating! We need to bring grassroots women into the global village. Let us make it a reality. Alutta Continua!

ikirimat
Jan 24, 2014
Jan 24, 2014

Im impressed with the collection of views during the ICT training you conducted. Especially what the women thought internet was (a building in Kampala, a person....). these are things we take for granted and yet they can totally change the way they think or percieve certain things in the community. this also reflects how they can embrace change. thank you for sharing. I also love the pictures. they are good action pictures.

My question is where you able to find out why these fishing communities have been marginalized for long, is it the low education levels, or something else? this can help the leaders address the problem not symptoms.

Loyce
Feb 03, 2014
Feb 03, 2014

Hello Grace,

I hope you are aware that service delivery in rural areas is still a very big challenge in Uganda and when it comes to remote communities, it is worse. The ICT project was a follow up on the previous project on advancing the rights of rural women living with HIV and AIDs as documented on this blog: http://advancing-rights-of-women.blogspot.com/. This might give you highlights on what was achieved.

adeakins
Feb 02, 2014
Feb 02, 2014

Technology always has a learning curve. But once that "anthill" is overcome, there is a reward, as these women have seen.

Loyce
Feb 03, 2014
Feb 03, 2014

Yes, we have to break the technophobia and the gender digital divide.

Olanike
Feb 02, 2014
Feb 02, 2014

Women certainly need all the support they can get and your training program is a great example of a strategic model for promoting women's access to and usage of the internet. This is a success story, and l wish you the very best as you continue in your efforts to turn the fortunes of disadvantaged women around, for best.

Great and impressive post!

Cheers, Greengirl

Obisakin Busayo
Feb 03, 2014
Feb 03, 2014

As an reading your story, itvis like I am reading the story of Nigerian women. Our problems are the similar globally. Thank you for taken the ICT training to those women. You have gone to give them life.

Love Busayo

Loyce
Feb 03, 2014
Feb 03, 2014
Obisakin Busayo
Feb 04, 2014
Feb 04, 2014

You have really done a great job in Uganda. May you be blessed!

Love Busayo

kind3500
Feb 04, 2014
Feb 04, 2014

Thanks so much for sharing your story! I am inspired by the hard work and positive attitude towards change and technology that you behold, and it is obvious that you share this passion with others. It is so true that technology and the Internet has the power to change a woman's world, if it is used properly. Education is of utmost importance and in our world of ever increasing dependence on technology, it is to a woman's benefit to become tech-literate. I especially love the anthill comparison you made, as it proves just how tenacious women have always been. It also came to my attention after reading this that sometimes technology causes more problems. Despite this downfall, technology is still one of the leading factors in improving gender equality. Thanks again for sharing your story! Peace

Loyce
Feb 10, 2014
Feb 10, 2014

Dear Kindersley,

Thank you for the kind words. True, technology is a liberator if properly used although it can as well have backlash effects. The good news is that with education, women have conquered technology and are using it to challenge the status quo of men.

Loyce
Feb 10, 2014
Feb 10, 2014

Dear Erin,

Thank you for your comment. I was also overwhelmed by the energies, knowledge and commitment of these women. I must say that I really enjoy working with them. Yes, women have their agency which needs to be advanced to higher heights.

Vision40
Feb 10, 2014
Feb 10, 2014

Thank you for the way you have communicated your article...you set the scene so well and by using the anthill and direct quotes from the women you work with helped me picture and understand your story so much more, despite being so geographically far away from you. What strikes me the most is the way you set about listening to the fears and stories of the women you work with before sharing your ideas, you captured these so beautifully. You are clearly focused on finding practical solutions and I look fwd to hearing more of your success stories.

Loyce
Feb 10, 2014
Feb 10, 2014

Hello Nicola,

It's nice to hear from you! and thank you for your comment. Yes, more is yet to come. Watch out!

Kjir
Feb 11, 2014
Feb 11, 2014

Hello -

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and stories! One of the things I am taking away from your post is the importance of access. Access to education, to technology, to other women and their stories and to leaders/others that can help influence change. With access to these things and instruction on how to leverage them, women can find the confidence, courage and ability to create very positive change.

Thanks again! Kjirsten

Loyce
Feb 11, 2014
Feb 11, 2014

Thank you Kjirsten,

I totally agree with you, access and then control is indeed very important. Our struggle as women is the need to have access and control of resources, then opportunities will be created.

Paulina Nayra
Mar 03, 2014
Mar 03, 2014

This is inspiring. Smartphones are the easiest way to report VAWCs. THanks for sharing this inspiring initiative. Cheers to your work!

inetmom
May 09, 2014
May 09, 2014

Dear Loyce - This is one of my favorite posts from the campaign since it shows so many important aspects of women's empowerment and makes a great recommendation document to share with global partners.

Keep writing. You are inspiring!

Tiffany

Loyce
May 10, 2014
May 10, 2014

Dear Tiffany,

Thank you for your kind words. We need to make technology for women