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Women Driving Innovation: Spotlight on ICT Leaders in Uganda

Women Driving Innovation: Spotlight on ICT Leaders in Uganda. ||Courtesy Photo.

In Uganda’s rapidly growing Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector, women are playing a pivotal role in driving innovation, fostering growth, and advocating for inclusivity.

Barbara Birungi, the founder of Hive Colab, stands as a testament to the entrepreneurial spirit of Ugandan women in tech. Hive Colab, a tech innovation hub based in Kampala, has provided a platform for numerous startups and tech enthusiasts to collaborate and innovate.

Dorothy Okello, co-founder of the Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET), has been a relentless advocate for women’s participation in ICT. WOUGNET is a non-governmental organization (NGO) that focuses on empowering women and girls in Uganda through the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs). Through the Network, she has empowered countless women by providing training, resources, and networking opportunities in the tech sector.

Joyce Nakatumba-Nabende, a senior lecturer at Makerere University is changing the research narrative with an aim to improve business process based on learning resource behavior from event logs using process mining and business process simulation. She specializes in Machine learning, software architectures, microservices, Business process Management and process Mining.

Evelyn Namara, a technology entrepreneur leading systematic change in social entrepreneurship, digital technology and driving innovation for small businesses. She has led multiple technologies for development projects in Uganda and has worked in the telecommunications industry, renewable energy sector, digital payments and tech start-ups.

Angela Mukisa, founder of CodeHub Uganda and a software Engineer at Microsoft, is a Ugandan multi-tasking computer scientist changing the software atmosphere one code at a time.

We also have Shamirah Kimbugwe, founder of Pivot Payments, one of the first female founded and led FIN-Tech in Uganda. She and her team, are leveraging technology to build seamless, secure and affordable digital solutions that can be accessed by the rural poor, unbanked and underbanked people in Uganda.

c is the general manager of Spidd Africa Ltd and the Founder of Coding in Heels, a social enterprise that focuses on inspiring girls and women to embrace Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), with her focus on technology. She is a consultant and a member of Uganda’s National taskforce on emerging technologies (4IR) and an IVLP – International Visitors Leadership Program Alumni.

Finally, but not least, we have Sherifah Tumusiime, a senior Systems Officer at the Financial Intelligence Authority in Uganda, leading ICT Innovations and systems development. She is the and CEO of Zimba Women, a technology social enterprise that supports and resources women entrepreneurs in East Africa.

Despite the progress, challenges remain. Women face various barriers in pursuing careers in the field of information and communication technology (ICT), which can be broadly categorized into three main areas.

Gender Bias presents significant challenges, as stereotypes and preconceived notions often portray the tech industry as male-dominated, discouraging women from pursuing STEM education and entering ICT careers. Unconscious bias in hiring and promotion processes further disadvantages women, leading to fewer opportunities for advancement and leadership roles. Additionally, gender-based discrimination and harassment contribute to a hostile work environment, resulting in higher turnover rates and decreased motivation among women in the field.

Limited Access to Resources exacerbates the disparity, with unequal access to technology and internet connectivity hindering women’s acquisition of essential digital skills, particularly in rural areas. Financial constraints pose another obstacle, as the cost of technology and training programs may be prohibitive for women with limited financial resources. Furthermore, the underrepresentation of women in senior positions within ICT leads to a lack of mentorship and role models, further discouraging women from pursuing careers in the field.

Unequal Opportunities further impede women’s progress in ICT, as they often face lower salaries, slower career advancement, and challenges in maintaining work-life balance. The demanding nature of the industry, combined with societal expectations of women’s domestic roles, can lead to burnout and difficulty achieving career goals. Moreover, the underrepresentation of women in leadership positions limits their influence on policy decisions and the development of gender-inclusive initiatives within ICT companies.

Addressing these barriers requires a multifaceted approach. It involves promoting STEM education for girls to encourage their interest in ICT careers and highlighting diverse opportunities within the field. Implementing anti-discrimination policies is crucial to ensuring fair hiring practices, equal pay, and protection against harassment. Providing financial aid and training programs can increase women’s access to technology and skills development. Mentorship and role model initiatives are essential for connecting women with experienced professionals in ICT to offer guidance and support. Additionally, promoting diversity and inclusion within companies can encourage active recruitment and promotion of women within organizations.

By addressing these barriers comprehensively, we can create a more equitable landscape for women in ICT, enabling them to fully contribute to the advancement of this transformative field. However, these trailblazing women continue to break barriers, defy stereotypes, and inspire the next generation of female tech leaders in Uganda.

As Uganda continues to embrace digital transformation, the contributions of women in ICT are more crucial than ever. Their innovation, leadership, and advocacy are shaping the future of Uganda’s tech landscape and driving the country towards a more inclusive and prosperous digital economy.

 

ALSO READ: Disregard Stereotypes: IT is For all, says Dona Musoke to Girls and Women

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