Bridge online gender-gap

My Facebook page, Norah Owaraga’s Blog, is followed mostly by men. It bothers me. So, I generated a post on Facebook with the breakdown statistics of my blog followers, accompanied with the caption: “Just wondering why my blog is followed by 79 percent men and only 21 percent women. And moreover, the majority are in a younger age bracket than mine. How should I use this revelation?”

Statistics for “Norah Owaraga’s Blog” Facebook Page (March 2022)

Pamela commented: “It could mean that the women who would follow developmental arguments are not popular with social media. Most of the corporate women are not in these spaces. The younger women are active on blogs and other social media platforms for completely different things.”

Presumably, Josh’s comment provides insight into the things younger women that are active on social media are believed to prefer. He wrote: “Ladies prefer nudes, funs, relationship quotes, etc., which you don’t provide. Your content attracts majorly men, because it has something to do with them.” How so preposterous a thought that the content of my blog of “developmental arguments” is men’s preference and not women’s preference?

Apparently so, as confirmed by Dora’s comment: “Men are generally more assertive than women, especially when it comes to development communication and technology. In terms of use or accessing ICT, younger women are the ones who are most active. If you want to target older women maybe you need to change the medium of communication.” Oh my!

It is fact that women are shying away from online debate, because “online venues often serve as platforms for highly contentious or even extremely offensive political debate,” as the Pew Research Centre study found. In essence, women choose self-preservation from toxic environments that are dominated by age-old norms endorsed by partriarchal male privilege. Yes, the Pew study also found that: “Among adults who have been harassed online, roughly half of women (47 percent) say they think they have encountered harassment online because of their gender, whereas 18 percent of men who have been harassed online say the same.”

Other studies have similarly found. Such as the one by Unwanted Witness which found that “over 72 percent of women using Internet in Uganda are victims of cyber harassment.”  The NDI – The impact of online violence against women in the 2021 Uganda general elections study found that “Whereas both men and women (politicians) used online tools for engagement, greater online activity was linked with higher levels of online violence for women as opposed to men.” And a study by Pollicy found “66 percent of women resorted to blocking perpetrators, while 14.5 percent of them deactivated their social media accounts to escape the abuse.”

Not everyone is on the same page. Konrad Andeneur Stiftung’s study, “Why online violence against women is persistent in Uganda despite existing laws and policies,”  for example, quotes Pastor Martin Ssempa’s assertion that: “Online violence against women is a fallacy… a trick by feminists to convince the government to police and take away people’s freedom of speech and normal conversation about men and women… to deny men a chance to debate these issues; it is about blocking men from having their say.”

Nevertheless, as His Excellency Thomas Sankara (RIP) once observed, “I can hear the roar of women’s silence,” that of Ugandan women on social media. I urge that we hid Sankara’s advice and eliminate that which is barring Ugandan women from freely engaging in “developmental arguments” on social media. For I agree with Sankara, “there is no true social revolution without the liberation of women.”

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