KAMPALA – Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) through the Uganda Communications Universal Services Access Fund (UCUSAF) has launched a call for business plan proposals to address the digital divide among women in selected communities.
The successful organisation will partner with UCC/UCUSAF to utilise the grant for “enhancing ICT adoption through digital literacy for women in the informal sector” under a collaborative framework.
“Online experiences and opportunities are critical for people’s development across a wide range of areas,” the Commission said in the Statement of Requirements published on its web site and social media platforms this week.
“These include engagement in online education, both formal and informal learning, access to critical information and support related to health and wellbeing, participation in creative and cultural practices, civic engagement and expression of ideas and opinions, leisure and connecting with peers, and searching for employment, career information and entrepreneurship opportunities.”
However, the Commission is cognisant of the fact that distinct geographic, economic, and social gaps in access stand in the way of these potential benefits, including those related to gender.
“Gender inequality in the physical world is replicated in the digital world,” the Commission said in its statement, adding that “there is a large gap in women and girls’ digital adoption and use compared to men and boys.”
According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), more than 50% of the world’s women are offline. This is more pronounced in developing countries such as Uganda, where the internet penetration rate for adult women is 41%, compared to 53% for men.
This gender gap in digital access is accompanied by a gender gap in meaningful digital use. Several studies have found that women tend to be restricted to a smaller range of digital services (often voice and SMS) as they are likely to use cheaper and less sophisticated handsets than their male counterparts.
Yet, as the digitisation of economies continues, economic and social growth will increasingly depend upon people’s ability to use technology. With many jobs and daily activities requiring at least basic digital literacy, women are at risk of missing out on the full range of opportunities offered by the digital economy.
Digital adoption and use can also offer women opportunities to overcome hurdles they face, day to day, as well as empowering them through increased civic engagement and awareness of their rights.
However, closing the gender digital divide requires interventions that address three broad but interlinked factors – access, digital literacy, and online safety.
The gender gap in digital literacy means that female users are more likely to report difficulties in using digital technology, compared to males. One study found that women are 1.6 times more likely than men to report lack of skills as a barrier to internet use. Several studies report that more female users report trouble reading content and require help from others to use more complex features.
Besides, limitations in digital literacy make women and girls more vulnerable to online risks than men and boys, as the former have less information or knowledge about staying safe online.
Through this programme, UCC/UCUSAF seeks to carry out a digital literacy programme in 15 districts, aiming to sensitise and build the digital literacy capacity of women, especially those engaged in the informal sector.
The selected partner will be required to deliver the following key outputs:
- Carry out a baseline survey on the status of digital literacy for girls and women in selected districts across the four regions of Uganda.
- Develop customised content for the training of women in the informal sector in basic digital literacy.
- Conduct digital literacy training involving up to 4,500 selected women, at least 300 from each of these 15 districts: Kagadi, Alebtong, Kanungu, Kalangala, Napak, Ntoroko, Kaboong, Lamwo, Moyo and Sironko, Ngora, Agago, Butambala, Namayingo and Kumi.
Selection of the beneficiary districts was guided by a USAID/Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) study on the estimated district GDP in the country, leading the UCUSAF team to some of the most underserved and unserved areas in Uganda, in line with the program’s objective of increasing the uptake of ICTs for social economic transformation.
Expected outcomes include increased uptake of smart devices and broadband services, as well as improvement in digital literacy in the targeted areas.
Among other desirable attributes, the lead applicant will be a legally established entity with documented experience in mobilising, coordinating, and delivering similar initiatives at national level.
The grant application process is open from 20th January to 3rd February 2022.