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Posts Tagged ‘ICTs’

Women learning how to use a computer

As part of the campaign to combat violence against women using ICTs, Isis-WICCE  conducted a training  on VAW and ICT for grassroots women activists in November 2010. The purpose of  the training was  to equip women leaders  with ICT skills  to enable them create platforms and opportunities for women to engage with ICT to address  violence against women and girls.

The training emphasized the use of new tools  of communication for communication, the intersection between ICTs and VAW,  use of mobile telephone applications  for advocacy, Computer and Microsoft Word skills, Internet and web2.0  applications(blogging) and  citizen Journalism.

During the training, a 59 year old participant shared with us 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, he doesn’t want me to do this that and  that….”  So that everyone in the village hears 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 Namaingo in Eastern Uganda. Some women shared their experiences;

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. The computer is ours but we have never touched it. Now that I have got  the knowledge and the skills, when I go back, I will use it” said Lyaka Grace from LASO.

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 Isis 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.  Senga Perusi Onyango  an elderly  lady commented that

men buy mobile phones for the 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 or in the kitchen cooking”.

For Gladys Maloba, her experiences was that  mobile phones have increased the rate of telling lies especially among the couples.Forinstance,  you call your husband ask him where he  is,  he will tell you that I am Bugiri  on the contrally,when get to  Namayingo, you  find him there  and he  asks you where are  you going? who has given you permission and  you will be beaten. 

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(http://www.tumbulawomen.wordpress.com/).

To most of them, they imagined that internet was a building in Kampala while others thought  internet is a human being. This is a reflection of total ignorance or lack of any knowledge of such tools. While some us have access to such communication tools and are using internet, email on a daily basis, many women in rural areas have not  even heard about such tools.

Lastly, the women were introduced to Frontline SMS software application used for sending bulk SMS. This software works with any Global System for Mobile (GSM) network. They used it to send out test message to them selves. During the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence, the women used this platform to  send  out text messages to raise awareness on issues of violence against women and women’s rights in their community.

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