Building digital resilience among women

Women leaders in Local Government engage in a focus group discussion during the launch in Kampala last week. PHOTO/ISAAC SSEJJOMBWE

What you need to know:

  • Results from a recent study showed that women deal with different kinds of violence online, such as trolling, sexual violence and body shaming. 

A new unit of the VOTE: Women programme has officially launched in Uganda and Tanzania, marking the next step in Pollicy’s mission to empower women in civic leadership. 

The launch of the new cohort was attended by participants in Kampala and Dar es Salaam and included women political leaders, women rights defenders, journalists, and representatives from civil society organisations at Royal Suites Bugolobi last Thursday. 

Women leaders in Cohort 1 shared testimonies about the impact the programme has had on their careers.
Olive Namazzi, a woman councillor at KCCA who has been a victim of online harassment in the past, highlighted the importance of strengthening passwords as one of the key things she learnt during the training. 

The training was able to identify the specific needs of women in digital security and resilience, and some women leaders have even been able to use the digital platforms and skills they learnt during the training to conduct their businesses.

The training, which was held in light of the increasing importance of digital engagement in elections, empowered attendees about digital safety and security needs for women leaders. 

They learnt how to effectively use social media handles to engage with audiences and received emphasis on the use of visual images to communicate with followers, especially on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp to coordinate and communicate with audiences.

Bonnita Nyamwire, the research manager at Policy presenting the overview of the Cohort II VOTE Women Programme last week. PHOTO/ISAAC SSEJJOMBWE

They also learnt the importance of posting only necessary information and targeting messages to specific audiences.

“The VOTE: Women programme was established following a study that was conducted after the 2021 general elections in Uganda,” said Bonnita Nyamwire, the research manager at Pollicy.

“The study aimed to understand the scale of online violence against women political candidates and its impact on their use of social media platforms for political activities.”

The results showed that women had to deal with different kinds of violence online, such as trolling, sexual violence, and body shaming. This was made worse by the fact that they did not have the right digital skills.

The programme was created to address these concerns and to provide women leaders with digital resilience skills.

The programme is an important step in promoting the civil and political rights of African women and will eventually expand to other countries, creating a peer-to-peer network and increasing the digital resilience of elected women leaders in performing their civic duties and addressing issues of digital transformation. 

The goal of the programme is to help people learn digital skills and run successful political campaigns and careers by giving them interactive content, opportunities to learn from their peers, mentorship, and ways to raise money. For the next two years, the programme is being carried out in Uganda, Tanzania, and Senegal.

Above: Women leaders who attended the launch in Tanzania. PHOTO/ISAAC SSEJJOMBWE

Cohort II of the VOTE: Women programme aims to select 30 participants from each of the three countries; Tanzania, Uganda, and Senegal, bringing the total number of participants to 90. 

This includes women in leadership positions, journalists, people who work for human rights, and others who will benefit from the programme’s training and development opportunities. The new group will have both online and in-person training to help participants work together and talk to each other more.