WOUGNET, Uganda: Taking ICTs to women in a context where little exists
GOA, INDIA, 29 June 2005
The Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) promotes and supports the use of ICTs by women organisations and individuals. Their goal is to improve conditions of life for Ugandan women, by enhancing their capacities and opportunities for exchange, collaboration and information sharing.
Their work primarily focusing on development, gender equality, citizen participation and information dissemination including through the community media. They are a small but active organisation. Their newsletter is seen by some as a point of reference on what is happening in Uganda in ICTs.
WOUGNET co-ordinator Dorothy Okello, and WOUGNET itself, have been active members of regional network APC-Africa-Women (AAW) since 1997 and 2000 respectively. APC is partnering with WOUGNET in several projects and also policy work.
This non-governmental organisation was initiated in May 2000 by several women's organisations in Uganda to "develop the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) among women as tools to share information and address issues collectively."
WOUGNET's mission is to "promote and support the use of ICTs by women and women organisations in Uganda, so that they can take advantage of the opportunities presented by ICTs in order to effectively address national and local problems of sustainable development".
In this group's view, ICTs, in particular killer-apps like email and the Internet, facilitate communication with each other and the international community.
"Access to information about best practices, appropriate technologies, ideas and problems of other groups working on similar concerns have been identified as critical information and communication needs of women organisations in Africa," notes WOUGNET.
"While our emphasis is directed towards Internet technologies, we are also interested in how these technologies can be integrated with traditional means of information exchange and dissemination including radio, video, television and print media. Our goal is to improve
conditions of life for women by enhancing their capacities and opportunities for exchange, collaboration and information sharing," WOUGNET adds.
WOUGNET has a website and mailing lists which are hosted by Kabissa -- Space for Change in Africa. On July 15, 2004, WOUGNET was recognized by the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) for its contribution to the development of the communication sector in Uganda in the category of ICT Advocacy. The awards were part of the activities to mark the 5th anniversary of the UCC.
In 2004, WOUGNET was awarded a grant by Hivos for the "Supporting the use of ICTs among women in Uganda" project. WOUGNET was also selected for the 2003 World Summit Award in the category of e-Inclusion. The World Summit Award is an initiative of the European Academy of Digital Media and the International Center for New Media and is interested in the creative use of interactive digital media for producing new, exciting and useful content and innovative content-rich applications.
The group look beyond the emphasis on a PC alone to tools like satellite radio too. WOUGNET has been piloting the use of WorldSpace satellite radio equipment among its members. The WOUGNET WorldSpace Satellite Radio Program (WSRP) was initiated in August 2002 with the ALFA Women's Groups, ALFA Ministries based in Mpigi District.
The WorldSpace satellite radio broadcasting is developed by the WorldSpace Foundation, based in the USA. The Foundation's mission is to help improve the lives of disadvantaged persons in developing regions of the world by providing access to education and other information broadcast directly to radios from satellites.
"WOUGNET share a small office with a community radio station and work on dial-up but they get a lot done," said APC's Anriette Esterhuysen. "Their newsletter is a point of reference on what is happening in Uganda in ICTs."
APC Africa Women Coordinator Jennifer Radloff commented: "WOUGNET is well thought of within the women's movement in Uganda and works actively to support grassroots involvement in ICTs and facilitate access to information to those not connected. Globally they have a good reputation within the gender and ICT movement...."
Hon. Johnson Nkuuhe of the Ugandan Parliament added: "WOUGNET is a new women's NGO, which is making ripples on the Uganda development scene.... They have been able to mobilize human and financial resources and to make their program felt both locally and internationally. They seem to know what they are doing and they will play a leading and important role in Uganda development scene."
WOUGNET can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org Women of Uganda Network -- WOUGNET -- works out of Nkrumah Road in Kampala, the Ugandan capital, and has its website at http://www.wougnet.org Dr Dorothy Okello <email@example.com>