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Ruth Atim: Online space has vast merits that women can leverage on

By Esther Ijewere
05 February 2022   |   2:54 am
Women who combine different careers and stay focused don’t only win wherever they take their light; they also encourage other women to have ‘Can Do’ Spirit.

Ruth Atim

Women who combine different careers and stay focused don’t only win wherever they take their light; they also encourage other women to have ‘Can Do’ Spirit. Ruth Atim is making impact and touching lives in Uganda, using the media as a toolkit, and her passion as the drive. A Journalist by profession, she has worked for both broadcast and print media. In 2019, she was shortlisted as a finalist in the Isu Elihle awards, a South African Media award that rewards innovative journalism about children. Ruth also Co-Founded the Gender Tech initiative-Uganda, a not-for-profit organisation that empowers women (mostly journalists) with digital safety/security skills and Digital literacy skills. She is very passionate about Gender and Tech and most of her work is geared towards ending online abuse that targets women and her work has been able to save many women from online harassment. Ruth, who seeks to Empower women from various spheres of life and professions to fight Online Gender Based Violence, shares her story exclusively with Esther Ijewere in this Interview.

Childhood Influence
Well, I didn’t have an easy childhood. I grew up in a family with 2 boys, and I was the only girl raised by our widowed mother who later passed on leaving us to face the world. The world taught me that nothing comes easy, hence my inspiration to work hard and do the things that I do.

Why I Pitched My Tent In The Media Sector 
I started my media career when I had just joined university. After graduation, I decided to continue with the media, because I loved it. It felt good getting paid for doing what you love doing.

Inspiration Behind The Gender-Tech Initiative
Gender-Tech Initiative-Uganda is an organisation that supports women human rights defenders, mostly journalists with skills to fight online gender-based violence. I have been a victim of online violence before, but by that time, I didn’t have any knowledge about it and I almost left the profession at that time because of the constant harassment.

After attending a leadership programme (Young African Leadership Initiative) and Safe-sister fellowship that empowers aspiring Tech Savvy Women), I developed a huge drive to start-up something that would support women and that’s how Gender-Tech Initiative-Uganda came into place. We started out by having informal conversations with some female journalists and some of their thoughts shaped the organisation Vision and Mission statement.

Being Passionate About Online Abuse That Targets Women In Uganda, And Across Africa
The online space has vast merits that women can and have to leverage on. But because of online violence, some of them have decided to do an Internet detox, and this means that they are missing out on the opportunities and connections that come with being online.

To avert this, my team decided to carry out numerous digital safety/security training in a bid to equip our trainees and beneficiaries with skills to fight online Gender based Violence. This has also played a great role in bridging the already existing and wide gender digital divide gap.

Challenges Of My Work
As an organisation, most of our activities need funds, and it doesn’t come in timely. This has affected our work but we are now working towards self-sustaining projects.
Other Projects And Activities

Our other projects are school ICT Clubs. The purpose of these clubs is to motivate and empower young schoolgirls to consider taking up an ICT Career. This is still in the initial stages but we plan to roll it out in upper primary and lower secondary students.

What I Enjoy Most About My Job
I enjoy the process of preparing content especially when I have training coming up. It feels good knowing that you are working on something that will impact many lives.

Three Women Who Inspire Me And Why
To start with, Stella Nyanzi inspires me a lot. She is a medical anthropologist, feminist, queer rights activist and scholar of sexuality. She is one of Africa’s most prominent gender rights activists and was recently awarded the 2020 Oxfam Novib/PEN International award due to her poems and writings that have drawn her a huge fan base both in and out of the country. Why she inspires me is the length she’s willing to move on what she believes in, that’s admirable.

My second is Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist for female education and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate. This young incredible woman overcame an assassination attempt by the Taliban at the age of fifteen, to campaign for women’s rights and children’s rights to an education. The fact that she advocated in an area where the Taliban pose a serious threat makes her an inspiration to me. She has fought life and limb for what she believes in.

And lastly, Winnie Byanyima, an aeronautical engineer, politician, and diplomat. To me, her name screams hope and resonates with what a woman can achieve if she believes in herself a little more. Byanyima was appointed as the executive director of the UNAIDS by the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres following a comprehensive selection process.

Before this, she served as the Oxfam International executive director. If she can achieve this and more, why not me?

How I Balance My Work As An Advocate And Journalist
Well, I just get my priorities right and plan for my day, a day before. I also love to delegate, because I believe that one can’t achieve much if they are everywhere doing different things. I focus on one thing at a go, and delegate if I am swamped.

Impact Of My Work In Uganda Since Inception 
I have trained over 300 young women, and the feedback just excites me. Many of my beneficiaries’/ trainee’s report being more comfortable and at ease maneuvering the Internet without any fear of bullying or harassment because they know just the right thing to do in order to be safe online. That to me is a push to do more.

To Young Women Who Want To Combine Journalism With Social Work
Both professions are fulfilling. Just find a way and strike a balance between the two, so as to be effective and deliver appropriately.

My View On Gender Based Violence, And How It Is Addressed In Uganda
Gender based Violence is everywhere and it was at its peak during the pandemic due to lockdowns and movement restriction. In Uganda, a few perpetrators are being held accountable for their actions, but we need to do more.

Women are also very much aware of their rights, which is a plus towards fighting Gender Based Violence. All thanks to the different stakeholders who have made it a point to empower the women.

Being A Woman Of Rubies
I support and empower women to be better versions of themselves.

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