Paradigm Initiative and the Digital Human Rights Lab (DHR Lab) successfully held their 8th edition of the Digital Human Rights and Inclusion Forum. The event was held at the Royal Suites Hotel in Bugolobi as part of a continental dialogue —gathering delegates including; policy makers, human rights defenders, and stakeholders from 42 countries, 32 African countries included.
The forum was also broadcasted on different online channels because of the Covid-19 pandemic that has continued to ravage the globe. Thus, following the SOPs issued by the government to fight the spread of the deadly virus.
The forum was hosted by the Digital Human Rights Lab, a co-creation project strengthening digital human rights work in Uganda through innovative and tailor-made digital approaches.
This year’s forum focused on best practices and exchanging perspectives on how to strengthen the effectiveness of human rights through the use of digital innovation competencies and instruments. During the interactive session, human rights defenders, civil society, the private sector, and policymakers discussed the risks and opportunities for human rights work in East Africa —Uganda in particular.
“When it comes to making digital tools, a lot of minority communities like Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) are not planned for or included in digital solutions that we are using right now. It’s time for things to change, and we’d love to call for inclusion that shall be designed for the minority communities that are being left out,” Herbert Ayesiga, the Communities of Practice Lead on Digital Inclusion said while speaking at the forum.
Furthermore, drawing from learnings from the Digital Human Rights Lab’s communities of practices and projects, the discussions also focused on practical digital models of including and protecting the rights of minority and marginalized groups.
“Marginalized communities in Africa have become more alienated from the world. Those who migrated online for basic amenities of life such as online-learning and health consultations were virtually connected. Many have been left behind at a time when digital rights are dearly an enabler for the fulfilment of human rights. We need to deliberate on bridging the digital divide in our African countries and share insights on protecting the digital space,” Thobekile Matimbe, Paradigm Initiative’s Community Manager said.
Poll questions were integrated into the session to facilitate engagement and adapt discussions to address the specific interests of participants.
Prior the forum, DHR Lab called innovators to apply for their innovation program that aims to create digital solutions for Human Rights Defenders to execute their work in better, more efficient and more secure ways —focusing on 6 Areas of Action; Digital Inclusion, Capacity Building, Security, Safety & Privacy, Knowledge Sharing & Collaborative Learning, Health Care and Media On/Offline.
The 6 Areas of Action show the thematic areas in human rights work in Uganda in which there is a high demand for innovative digital solutions, approaches and ideas.
The lab has set up a cash prize of UGX60 million that will go to the winning teams with the best/promising digital idea. On top of the cash prize, the winning teams will also receive a 6-month Mentorship Programme. Only four teams will share the cash prize and according to the lab, the cash prize will be divided amongst the teams according to their needs.