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Rural Women and Information in Uganda
by Ruth Ojiambo Ochieng


Information, in a broad context, refers to organized data recorded in various forms. It is a raw resource for knowledge. Information could also be messages that have perceivable and recognisable value to the receiver. Information is therefore a vital tool for the empowerment of individuals to enable them take an informed decision or action for self or community development. Information however, only becomes useful if it is relevant, timely and appropriate. The choice of carrier or channel, which transmits information, must also be appropriate, perceivable and affordable to the user. It must also allow a two-way communication to occur. Human beings are not homogenous, given the differing gender needs. Neither are women themselves homogenous due to their differing status in society. In this paper the focus is on the rural women's generation of and access to information for development due to the specific problems faced by this group of women in this area. Therefore, there is an ever-increasing need for intervention in order to correct the situation.

Status of Rural Women in Uganda

About 10.7 millions of the population of Uganda are women. Education and literacy are preconditions to development and determines the status of men and women with strong benefits in the areas of health agriculture and economics. Female education has remained lower than that of male causing illiteracy levels among women (61.3%) with rural-urban differentials.

Government of Uganda acknowledges that women (especially those living in rural areas and female heads of households) are the poor of the poorest.

Despite the Uganda Governments efforts to come up with gender sensitive policies and laws (i.e. the National Constitution and the National Gender Policy), the inequalities between men and women have continued to prevail.

Female decision making positions
Female ownership of land
Female access to credit
Female control over food crops
Female control over cash crops
Female extension staff
< 1%

The gender inequalities limit women's capabilities and capacities especially in the agricultural sector where they play crucial roles.

Role of Rural Women in the Agricultural Sector

Despite the above inequalities, women contribute to 88% of agricultural labour force an activity that contributes to 76% of Uganda's economy. Women's traditional roles in Agriculture are still influenced by their reproductive roles therefore, taking on responsibility for food production and security for their families. Women in Uganda have also taken up to cash crop farming within their small-scale farms although, majority do not control the earnings of the produce.

Key Barriers that hinder Rural Women from Accessing and generating Information for their development.

The socialisation belief that women are the custodians of homes especially in rural areas has restricted most women in rural areas from moving beyond their villages. Hence adding to the limitations in exposure and access to knowledge that would enhance their social and economic development.

The cultural and religious attitudes about gender roles and relationships has continued to deter most women in rural areas from participating actively in decision-making and interaction with men i.e. extension workers. As a result most of them depend only on the knowledge they have acquired in their lifetime and that from their friends to improve on their agricultural production. Rural women have very limited opportunity to share their ideas, views and suggestions on how to improve their activities.

The high illiteracy rate among rural women, let alone the language barrier has hindered women from accessing the available information that would help them improve on their agricultural activities i.e. NARO and NARI literature, T.V. and Radio Agricultural programmes etc.

Marginalisation and lack of information and communication components in national policies has aggravated the problem of accessibility and generation of information related to rural women.

Failure to consult the rural women on many issues regarding their priorities in agricultural activities has limited the opportunity of availability of gender specific information that would be relevant to rural women's needs.

Available sources of agricultural information to rural women and their inadequacies

The following research findings identify sources of agricultural information to rural women in Uganda and illustrate the inadequacies of these sources:

Strategies used by NGOs and development agencies to disseminate and generate information to/from rural women

Isis-WICCE's approach:



Information being a multiplier of development efforts, regular assessments of information needs of rural women especially concerning the agricultural sector is crucial. It is therefore important that policy makers need to pay attention to information generation and dissemination for rural development. In particular, due to the role played by women in agricultural activities, it is important that the women be given a central role in the generation and dissemination of this information.

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