Human Rights activists have expressed disappointment over the increased cyber-violence against girls which has further affected the move to advance for digital inclusion and literacy.
This was at the She Decides Uganda open house event organized by the Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum (UYAHF) in conjunction with Power to Youth Uganda and Girls Not Brides Uganda.
The event which came as a post International Day of the Girl event was organized under the theme; “Digital Generation, Our Generation; Positioning Adolescent Girls and Young Women in Uganda ro Reap from the Benefits of the Digital Revolution”.
UYAHF Executive Director, Patrick Mwesigye said that despite the essential need for digital services, many adolescent girls, and young women below the age of 25 do not have internet access at home, and those who can access the internet often encounter cyber-violence including harassment and abuse.
“Additionally, girls living in rural, conflict, and humanitarian settings with limited access to electricity also have no access to internet connectivity and in the COVID-19 era, this has a direct effect on their right to education and access to enabling technology,” Mwesigye said.
Mwesigye said that in order to achieve the bold vision for bridging the digital gender divide, there should be actions to put girls at the heart of the digital revolution by supporting initiatives that include digital access and the development of digital skills.
“We cannot afford for girls to be left out of the digital transformation. Not only does digital inclusion and literacy open new avenues for girls’ learning and earning, but technology is also a crucial enabler of the change girls are already leading in their communities,” Mwesigye noted.
He noted that can use the digital technology to report cases of sexual and gender-based violence, seeking social justice, acquiring sexual reproductive health information and seeking referrals to services, advocating for an end to teen pregnancies, child marriages and human rights violations and social-economic empowerment, climate action among others.
The Youth Country Coordinator, Power to Youth Uganda, Phiona Akao said that there is need to amplify the voices of adolescent girls, young women, CSO players, policymakers, legislators, development partners, and duty bearers to call for equal access to the internet and digital devices for girls.
She however cautioned girls to be responsible in how they use the internet to avoid opening up for sexual abuse and pornography which may cost their future.