By Chief Spy Reporter
Uganda’s government says Women’s access to ICT is critical to the country’s growth and development.
This, as Uganda on Thursday joined the rest of the world to mark international day for girls in ICT.
According to ICT and National Guidance Minister, Judith Nabakooba, globally, the day is used to build awareness about the importance of having more girls and women Utilizing and accessing ICTs.
“Uganda has certainly achieved a lot when it comes to closing the gender digital gap. Women in Uganda have consistently embraced the ICT sector not just as end users but as leaders and ICT developers. As the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance, we are proud with the progress Uganda has made in the ICT sector,” she said in a statement.
Ms. Nabakooba is glad that the women and girls in Uganda are not just mere spectators in this journey, but they have been actively involved in its growth.
Currently a lot of our informal sector trade is happening online.
“We see a lot of women in the markets, mobile money shops embracing phone-based applications to conduct business. ICTs are providing access to information such as jobs being advertised online and we see many young girls are applying for these jobs. Women are accessing banking services such as loans using the online platforms available and this has increased their security as well,” she added.
She said government of Uganda continues to provide an enabling environment or early learners to have an introduction to ICTs.
Through Uganda Communication’s Commission alone, she added, 65 schools are supported with free computers every year.
“It is good to note that in all these learning centers, girls have embraced computer classes,” she noted.
She commended initiatives like probatics and technovations that expose young people to ICTs.
“The program introduces young girls with limited knowledge about computers to the exciting world of designing computer applications.
Working alongside mentors, the project inspires young girls with employable skills in software development. Given the fact that women and girls form the biggest percentage of our population, their access to ICT is key in our journey of transformation,” she explained.
There are a number of challenges that still exist in this effort, according to Ms. Nabakooba.
“In Uganda, we still have communities, families, institutions that believe women are not entitled to enjoy full access to ICT. We still have men who continue to deny their partners and wives access to the mobile phones and other facilities such as computers.
These individual characteristics being influenced by patriarchy require constant work and engagement by everyone,” she said.
To this, Ms. Nabakooba appealed to religious and cultural institutions.
“Religious and cultural institutions need to join the campaign and educate everyone especially the men that ICTs are good for women as well,” she noted.
In her conclusion, Ms. Nabakooba acknowledge that the ICT industry has been intruded upon by all forms of crime. The level of online abuse, sexual crimes, impersonation, obtaining money by false pretense are on the increase.
All these crimes present a bigger danger for girls and young women.
“As we celebrate this year’s day for Girls in ICT, let us strengthen our partnerships and resolve to fight these crimes. Let us continue working hard to build an online community that is safe for girls and women,” she said.