Women of Uganda Network

The project below was interviewed during the first phase of our research, in early 2010. We have since determined that it fits more within the categories of general citizen engagement and/or activism in areas outside of transparency and accountability, rather than within the specific criteria we have defined for the purposes of our research.

Quick Look

The Women of Uganda Network focuses on information sharing and networking, technical support, and using ICT to advocate for gender issues.

Beginning Date: 
May 1, 2000
Annual Budget 2009: 
Annual Budget 2010: 
How many unique hits per month?: 
Project Scale: 
Types of Tools: 
Specific Tools: 


Uganda's National Information and Communication Technology Policy, published in 2003 (Word doc), highlights "gender mainstreaming" of ICT as a key objective. The Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET), a Kampala-based non-profit organization focused on empowering women to use ICT, agrees.

Goretti Zavuga Amuriat, WOUGNET's ICT Program Manager, says that lack of access to technology and technology-related skills training is a problem that affects women far more than men. "Though the ICT sector in Uganda has grown very fast over the past 20 years, especially in telecommunications, the benefits have not trickled to women," she says. WOUGNET, founded in 2000, works to correct this by training women and women's organizations to use the Internet and other technology and by advocating for policies that are gender inclusive.

WOUGNET's work focuses on three main programs: information sharing and networking, technical support, and gender and ICT policy advocacy. Through its web site, online discussion groups and workshops, WOUGNET works to help women who are already involved in sustainable development efforts and small businesses use technology to further their own goals.

In 2009, the organization launched a Uganda branch of the international Take Back the Tech campaign, which encourages women to use ICT to raise awareness of violence against women. WOUGNET has also been involved in the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence program, using mobile phones to spread messages against gender-based violence (GBV). WOUGNET is also exploring greater use of ICTs to combat violence against women, including mobile phone reporting of incidents of GBV.

"My greatest aspiration has been to see that women are living good lives and empowered to solve their own problems," says Amuriat. Through the initiatives above and several other programs, WOUGNET helps women use ICT to work on issues that matter to them while holding Uganda's government accountable to the country's female citizens.


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Date of Audio: 
April 21, 2010


What are the biggest obstacles to your success?: 

Funds to implement our activities are limited. Even if funds are received, they are for a short time (such as one year). Fundraising skills are also missing.

How do you plan on overcoming those obstacles?: 

We have recruited a fundraising manager, and we are making efforts to organizing fundraising events.

What problem is your project aiming to overcome?: 

WOUGNET tries to address women's lack of access to ICT and the information it brings. This includes the lack of awareness among women and women’s organizations of what ICT is and the opportunities it provides, low literacy rates and technological skills, limited infrastructure and non-gender-sensitive policies.

What are the roots of that problem?: 

Though the ICT sector in Uganda has grown very fast over the past 20 years, especially in telecommunications, the benefits have not trickled to women, the majority of whom are based in rural areas. The women both in urban and rural areas have not accessed and utilized ICT because there are no programs targeting them. Gender discrimination is also a problem, and many of Uganda’s ICT policies are formulated without considering women.

The major problems in Uganda that affect ICT access and use include lack of ICT infrastructure in rural areas, unreliable internet connections and a costly, unreliable power supply. Poverty and a lack of training and skills also make access difficult. These problems disproportionately affect women.

Why did you personally become involved in this project?: 

I am a woman. I feel for women and really want to see that they live decent lives. I was born in a rural area, where the majority of women tirelessly provide for their families. My greatest aspiration has been to see that women are living good lives and empowered to solve their own problems, contribute to the betterment of their families and make their own decisions.

I personally got involved because I wanted to contribute to women’s lives by giving them an opportunity to explore and utilize ICT to solve their own problems. Another issue I wanted to contribute to was the closing of the gender digital divide, where women would also benefit from the use of new technologies.

Are you providing unofficial channels of information that should be provided by the government?: 

WOUGNET collaborates with governmental institutions to provide information that helps women and women's organizations use ICT for their benefit.

Why is the government not providing the information?: 

Some government institutions, such as public libraries, are providing information, but most of these do not use ICT to disseminate information. The government has not yet put systems in place to provide useful or relevant information to the general public using ICT, and most of the efforts being made to disseminate information are private.

Is there a freedom of information law in the country where this project is based?: 
How does the information published on your website turn into offline change?: 

For those who do not have Internet access, we turn information from our web site into articles and publish a newsletter. We also conduct SMS campaigns, training activities and face-to-face meetings with our members.

What is an example of how information on your website has led to a concrete change?: 

In 2006, an assessment of the Rural Communications Development Fund (RCDF) using a gender perspective was undertaken. RCDF is a universal access fund in Uganda being implemented by the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC).

The main purpose of the assessment was to generate gender sensitive information for ICT policy advocacy and to mainstream gender in the implementation of the RCDF. Evidence from the field showed that none of the organizations that had access to the funds were women's organizations. The study also revealed that in general, more women than men were accessing ICT facilities established under the fund, mostly for secretarial training or basic computer skills. While the fact that women were accessing these services is a positive thing, very few women were employed as trainers. Women were also absent from ownership, management and control of private ICT business centers.

Our report was disseminated to the UCC. They were responsive and improved the RCDF by incorporating some of our recommendations.

How many people work on your project?: 
How many hours a week do you personally spend on the project?: 

In a week I spend 40 hours.

What are the most time consuming tasks?: 

Moderation of the WOUGNET mailing list, moderating discussion groups, posting blogs and articles to various web sites (both WOUGNET and various partners), organizing for training workshops and face-to-face meetings, and preparing for our national youth camps.

How do you extract value from large amounts of data? How do you build engagement around it?: 

WOUGNET collects information through surveys done both online and offline, through online discussions on its mailing lists, and SMS campaigns, which are undertaken with members and partners. The online discussions and SMS campaigns enable us compile reports, which provide facts and data for advocacy.

In case of a particular policy of interest, an assessment of that policy is always undertaken using a gender perspective. Facts established are used for advocacy.

Every year we also send out a questionnaire to our members to identify their ICT needs and any other information needs they would like to be attended to. We use this to help develop future programs.

How do you attract new participants?: 

We disseminate information on a number of WOUGNET platforms like Twitter, Facebook, mailing lists, websites and our print and electronic newsletters.

What has been the most effective method of spreading awareness about your project?: 

Our mailing list, our website and, recently, Twitter and Facebook.

What are your biggest referrers? Where does most of your traffic come from?: 

Of the people who visit our web site, 45% come from the United States and 21% come from Uganda. The rest come from Europe, South Africa and Kenya, India and some other countries.

Where is your content re-posted? What effect has that had on your project?: 

Our content is re-posted on Telecenter.org, Citizen Journalism in Africa and Zunia. This increases our readership and our response from the general public.

Has legal action been taken against your website?: 

Not that I know of. I have worked with WOUGNET since 2004.

What metrics do you use to judge your own success?: 

We look at the number of people who access our web site and subscribe to our mailing lists. We also conduct evaluations and monitoring visits for our various programs.

What are the incentives to participate in your project?: 

We involve women in WOUGNET activities like the SMS campaigns and reward the most active participant (in terms of highest number of SMSes) with airtime or a flash drive.

What skills and expertise would be of assistance to your project?: 

We could use training in fundraising, proposal writing, monitoring and evaluation skills, and the use of Web 2.0 tools for advocacy and lobbying.

What other organizations are you working with?: 

We work with a number of other organizations: the Busoga Rural Open Source Development Initiatives, I-Network, the Uganda Communications Commission, Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa, Center for Domestic Violence Protection, local women's organizations such as the Ibanda Women's Guild and a women's group in Baropobo, UgaBYTES, the Association for Progressive Communications and the Council for Economic Empowerment for Women of Africa (CEEWA)-Uganda.

Has there been any communication between your project and government officials?: 

Our Gender and ICT Policy advocacy program collaborates with the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) to raise awareness among youth on gender issues and ICT in Uganda. The project gives practical ICT skills to the youth and also educates them on the potential of ICT in development.

The program also works with the Ministry of ICTs in formulating ICT policies and making sure these policies are gender sensitive. The program also works in collaboration with the Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development to mainstream gender issues in policies and programs.

If someone gave you $30,000 how would you use the money?: 

WOUGNET would use it to consolidate activities taken under a project that enhances income growth among female micro-entrepreneurs in Uganda. In 2008 with the support of the NEPAD Spanish fund we implemented a one-year project focused on women-owned businesses in three Ugandan districts. The goal of the project was to improve incomes for these women by helping them use ICT in their businesses. We were able to train 12 trainers, who then trained 150 female entrepreneurs in the use of ICT. We would like to continue this project to train more women, help with networking and provide regular monitoring services.

We would also like to redesign our Women in Business Portal to make it more interactive and to help advertise and sell products from female-run businesses.

What are your plans for 2010 and 2011?: 

We will continue to share information through our web site and our member meetings. We would also like to conduct additional trainings in citizen journalism and general ICT skills, help our members build their own web sites, advocate for more gender inclusive ICT policies, and continue our efforts to end violence against women, such as our participation in the Take Back the Tech and Speak Out! Stand Out campaigns.


Great project

I believe congratulations are in order to WOUGNET for this great project.
I am particularly interested in the Access4Dev projects that they run where women in the rural areas are availed information that would have otherwise not been available to them, a thing WOUGNET might look into is SMS based campaigns as this will reduce their costs are reach a wider net of their audience.
In terms of accountability and transparency, improving access to information to rural women will definitely have a knock effect of a populace that will know what obligations of the authorities are and demand them.
I'd like to see more input from the rural folk into the project, though the issue of costs would have to be figured out first.
In terms of training needs of WOUGNET, they can tap into the local tech community, I know there is a big one in Kampala to help them with that, overall this is a great project.

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