Results follow up, WOUGNET 2017
The project ICTs and women’s socio-economic empowerment for improved service delivery is implemented by Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) in six Ugandan districts.
Understanding women’s socio-economic empowerment and use of ICTs
Findings from this project show that ICTs amplify voices of ordinary citizens and increase awareness and participation of women in leadership and other public affairs. This occurs as a result of increased access to information on human rights, citizenry duties and public service delivery as well as citizen’s ICT-supported engagements in democratic activities. The research looks at women’s participation at household level and found that men make most of the decisions. This includes household expenditure, land use and information distribution. To some extent, men also control women’s participation in leadership related public functions.
Top three household expenditures are: school fees, glossaries and health. Men control the finances and their distribution. Men also earn more than women and the contribution differences may be explained by the differences in earnings because men were found to be earning more than women by close to two thirds.
Findings from this project show that ICTs amplify voices of ordinary citizens and increase awareness and participation of women in leadership and other public affairs. This occurs as a result of increased access to information on human rights, citizenry duties and public service delivery as well as citizens’ ICT-supported engagements in democratic activities.
The 90 males and 292 females who participated in the baseline study noted that ICTs, for example mobile phones and radios are largely used and owned but are not often used for purposes of engagement on issues of service delivery. However these ICTs are notably useful for community human rights awareness and engagement in government planning processes. The most used avenues for engaging leaders are mainly face-to-face: community meetings, council meetings and representative meetings. Relative to these avenues, ICTs are used less. Radios are the most used ICTs when it comes to access to information. Wougnet uses a combination of these channels for a more inclusive community engagement.
The patriarchal environment in which women navigate their daily life, hinders them from exercising their rights.
Participation of women in terms of taking on leadership roles is more visible at local council and sub-county levels. Women were found to be more informed about human rights (91%) than men (82%). Although women appear to know more about human rights, this does not necessarily translate to being an empowered group. The patriarchal environment in which women navigate their daily life, hinders them from exercising their rights. Men have more access to information than women. This is not surprising because the issue boils down to power structures, as in, who owns the resources and who determines the distribution of the said resources.
Channels for engaging leaders
- Community meetings 67% 67%
- Council meetings 45% 45%
- Representative meetings 37% 37%
- Radio 37% 37%
- Phone calls 37% 37%
Feedback loops are insufficient. Respondents reported that feedback is sought from communities on service deliver planning, but not when it comes to monitoring and evaluating the services. The study also shows that there would be increased participation if it wasn’t for the lack of invitations to meetings and forums.
Women have additional challenges that prevent their participation including lack of time due to domestic work, being controlled by spouses and lack of means of transportation to attend the planned meetings. More than 80% of women walked to the meetings.This goes back to the fact that men control the resources and the distribution of information is largely passed to particular groups of men. Men of a particular social class and age can be excluded from consultations as much as women, leaving power in the hands of a few.
These research findings have implications on the project in terms of reconfiguring interventions to increase awareness and mitigate some of the challenges found – especially gender imbalances.