Moses Owiny, Project Officer with the Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET), kicks off the "Young women and Youth's Gender Perspectives in Agricultural Development" series that spotlight young professionals' experiences for women's empowerment in agricultural development. From research to private sector, mass media to civil society work, YPARD 2015 Gender series will feature, every month, young "gender champions" from different regions of the world. This series is part of YPARD work as special youth catalyst in the GAP : Gender in Agriculture Partnership.
In 2008, I graduated with a Bachelor Degree in Arts at Makerere University Kampala. By that time when as a student you start to face the world’s challenges and become independent, nobody could have foreseen that I would soon become so much interested and passionate about agriculture, youth, gender, ICTs and rural development in Uganda and globally.
Even though I wasn’t very sure about which field I could develop my career in, one thing I knew was that I wanted to contribute towards the development of underserved communities with limited opportunities. This was probably due to the fact that I had seen many of my bright and intelligent classmates dropping out of school due to lack of tuition fees and other socio-cultural factors.
Enhancing rural women farmers’ access to agricultural information
After finishing my studies, I enrolled in a Government Sponsorship scheme for best performing students at the Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education level for Public/Government Universities. Thanks to this financing, I managed to work as an intern at the Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET). This experience led me to work later with rural women farmers as a Project Officer.
Among the different projects I carried out, the most important was the “Enhancing access to Agricultural Information using ICTs in Northern Uganda” initiative, where we deployed a combination of both traditional and modern ICT tools such as radio cassettes, audio tapes, community radios, mobile phones, mini-studios and internet. All these were supported by the establishment of a multi-dimensional Information Center –the Kubere Information Center- which offered development oriented information with emphasis on ICTs.
This project provided me with a lot of experience in agriculture, women, youth and ICTs. Particularly working with rural women farmers in Northern Uganda gave me the chance to learn as well as to share experiences both nationally and globally. It was also thanks to my work with farmers in Northern Uganda that I won a fully paid scholarship in the United States of America in 2011 called Community Solutions.
Community Solutions is a program for the best and brightest global community leaders who are making significant contributions in their home communities. It’s funded by the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs of the US State Department and implemented by the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX).
This opportunity not only enabled me to gain hands on and practical experience from my US counterparts, but also learning more from my host organization - the YWCA of Genesee County.Inc, in Batavia, New York. Without a doubt, participating in an online community leadership institute was a great opportunity to develop my leadership.
Contributing to an e-inclusive society
Upon my return to Uganda in December 2011, I implemented a follow-up project to strengthen linkages and market access across the agricultural value chains for women famers in Northern Uganda in 2012. Likewise, I began to work at the WOUGNET Secretariat in Kampala under a new assignment as Information and Youth ICT4D Officer, with a specific focus on youth and their involvement in development matters that significantly affect them.
Working in communications empowered me to get deeply involved in ICT4D programs in Uganda including ICT Policies and Strategies for an e-inclusive society. Besides, I could easily combine my work of public relations at WOUGNET with other interesting personal projects.
To this day, I have been more involved especially in the areas of agriculture, rural development, Gender, youth, web 2.0 and social media. In fact, few months ago I graduated with a Certificate in Innovative Collaboration for Development (IfCD), an e-learning course on web 2.0 tools and Social Media conducted by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and sponsored by the Technical Center for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation (CTA).
I am committed to make more positive contributions to the lives of youth and women including the development of agriculture in Uganda and globally. So far, I serve as web 2.0 and Social media trainer. I have prepared many people in Uganda and the U.S.A., including those with a background in Information Technology. My passion for agriculture, gender, youth and ICTs is just overwhelming, that’s why my students always ask me the same question: “So you studied information technology?”
Moses Owiny is the official YPARD Global youth male catalyst in the Gender in Agriculture Partnership - GAP, in which YPARD is institutional partner. As of now, YPARD Global counts a female and male official representative in GAP as a symbol of the need to include both young men and women into discussions and actions for stronger gender equity. If you want to learn more and explore ways you could be involved in this initiative, please write to marina.cherbonnier[at]ypard.net with subject : GAP: getting youth involved.
Click here to read:
- Empowering Women in Agriculture through Mentoring, by Michelle Jambui, Fulbright scholar graduate student;
- "While frustrating at times, challenges do make me far more passionate and determined", by Afrina Choudhury, Gender Specialist at the WorldFish;
- Agriculture has managed to change my career, by Wouedjie Alice-Norra, a lawyer who works at the Cameroon youth Initiative for Rural Development, CAMYIRD;
- A young spirit in search of change, by Anauim Valerín Pérez, a young journalist and environmental activist.
- AltroPaesaggio - Empowering Gypsy Women through Urban Agriculture, by Luisa Cartesio, coordinator of the project "Orticulturom" within the association AltroPaesaggio;
- Supporting Sinai Bedouin Women through Agriculture and Handicrafts, by Yasmeen Atta, founder of the Youth Sinai Foundation for Development and Human Rights and the Youth Sinai Development Company.