Bridging Uganda’s digital divide: Gender mainstreaming in digital agriculture in Uganda

The UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) with support from the government of Sweden published a study under the title Bridging Uganda’s digital divide: Gender mainstreaming in digital agriculture in Uganda. The study investigates the main reasons behind the disproportionate constraints that women face while accessing and using digital services in Uganda. It aims at addressing the digital divide for women and girls to improve women’s economic opportunities and help transform women into the builders of emerging digital economies. To this aim, the study pinpoints the main constraints to the digital inclusion of women:

  • Affordability: Many women cannot afford the cost of purchasing a mobile phone which requires full payment of the cost of the phone
  • High maintenance costs: Phone usage attracts expenses such as airtime, and while they may appear to be small amounts, can be significant for rural households, especially women.
  • Lack of access to energy to charge phones: Lack of power to charge phones, especially for households living off the grid, makes it difficult for them to use phones.
  • Limited access to phone shops in rural areas: This means travelling long distances to have accessibility, yet other responsibilities like farm activities prevent women from doing so.
  • Inadequate digital literacy skills:  Most women do not have the basic skills to use mobile phone applications. Literacy levels are very low in rural areas and especially among women.
  • Limited ‘use cases’: Some respondents questioned mobile phones’ usefulness by mentioning that a phone is a luxury. Despite phones being a key part of some people’s lives, the lives of any women are not dependent on mobile devices.