Access to Information Important for Women’s Rights
By Carlyn Hambuba
There is no question that access to information is critical for enabling citizens to exercise their voice, to effectively monitor and hold government to account, and to enter into informed dialogue about decisions which affect their lives says, African Women and Child Feature Service Executive Director Rosemary. Ms Okello was speaking this morning when she addressed the Pan Africa conference on Access to Information which is taking place at the Cape Town International convention Centre in South Africa.
She cited examples how women have used information for advocacy and create transformation in their society such as in Mali where young women contributed to stop of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) through use of ICTs. In Uganda the women used ICTs to bring to attention the conflict in the North of the country. While in Kenya, GBV campaign has been enhanced though the use of ICTs and access to relevant information.
Ms. Okello noted that the current modernisation of communication tools especially the use of ICTs has enhanced access to information and also enabled advocacy to widened space for dialogue especially by women. “The dawning of the information age has presented many new opportunities for social development. The use of ICTs in advocacy has helped even the marginalized communities to become integrated members of civil society by partaking in online discussions, forming online networks, and by accessing information that is crucial to their human development.” Said Ms.Okello.
According to Ms Okello, access to information has increased women’s awareness of their civic rights and responsibilities; as well as increases the pool of informed women who can participate in the electoral process as candidates and voters. Additionally, Access to information increases women’s representation in decision-making positions in the public and private sectors. She further noted that access to information increases community members’ control of the electoral process and promote the principles of free and fair elections and also helps in creating awareness of the virtues of accountability, transparency, and good governance.