By Isaac Kalembe
The commission is committed to empowering women as agents of change and achieving gender equality
On March 8, Uganda joined the rest of the world to celebrate International Women’s Day under the theme “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality”. The idea of this theme is to consider how to accelerate the 2030 Agenda, building momentum for the effective implementation of the new Sustainable Development Goals, especially goal number five -Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls- and number 4 –Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning.
Accordingly, as part of this year’s Women’s Day activities, the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) decided to take stock of the progress it has made to achieve gender equality and women empowerment in Uganda, especially in the communications sector.
As an equal opportunity employer, UCC has steadily championed women’s representation at the upper levels of the Commission to historic highs. UCC does not discriminate against women in its recruitment and human resources policy.
Out of the 127 members of staff at UCC currently, 74 are female. Of the 19 Senior Officers at UCC, six (6) staff are female.
At top management level, there was no female director or manager in 1998. Currently, however, four out of the nine directors at the Commission, are female. These are: Ms Alice Nyangoma (Internal Audit), Harriet Omoding (Human Resources and Administration), Mrs Irene Kaggwa Ssewankambo (Engineering and Communication Infrastructure), and Mrs Susan Atengo Wegoye (Legal Affairs/Commission Secretary). Two director posts are still vacant.
Even at Board level, women are well represented. Four of the current Board of Directors are female. These are: Dr Nora Mulira, Dr Wardha Mummy Rajab-Gyagenda, Ms Evelyn Gloria Piloya, and Ms Jane Frances Anyango Kabbale. This contrasts with the maiden Board of Directors of 1998 where there was only one female board member.
Similarly, Eng. Dr Dorothy Kabagaju Okello is currently the Governing Council Chairperson of the Uganda Institute of Information and Communications Technology (UICT). An institute of strategic importance in the transformation of the Ugandan society through ICT training and application, UICT is owned by UCC. Even the Acting Principal is female.
In addition, the Commission has contributed greatly to the empowerment of women through Information Communication Technology (ICT). Through its flagship universal access programme called the Rural Communications Development Fund (RCDF), UCC has been promoting access and usage of ICT throughout the country, especially among rural communities.
This includes the establishment of ICT laboratories in more than 1000 government-aided secondary schools. Through this programme, girls and female students have been able to access and utilise ICTs in education institutions. Preliminary findings indicate that more girls than boys have been able to utilise ICTs in education.
In addition, UCC has, at the national level, spearheaded the International Girls in ICT Day which is celebrated on April 4 every year. This is based on the realisation that girls and young women have the potential not only to become ICT users, but also to become ICT creators. The event is aimed at making girls and young women aware of the vast possibilities ICTs offer, quelling misconceptions about the sector and inviting them to envision their future as ICT creators.
During last year’s Girls in ICT Day, UCC organised an ‘Open Day’ for 100 female students from primary, secondary and university institutions at UCC House, Bugolobi. The day’s activities included a visit to ICT operators and a motivation lecture by female role models in the sector.
Accordingly, UCC encourages women and girls to pursue ICT careers. It also fosters a more dynamic technology sector, positing extensive benefits for companies. The Commission is also keen to advocate a more gender-balanced workforce that reflects the customer base more accurately, enhances productivity and innovation, and leads to better financial results.
On this International Women’s Day, UCC reiterated its commitment to empowering women as agents of change. The Commission also renewed its keenness to support and advocate programmes aiming to achieve gender equality in Uganda and elsewhere in the world.
Isaac Kalembe is Senior Officer/Public Relations at UCC