The world has evolved and communication now goes beyond writing letters and using traditional mass media to engage with your constituents. It now involves using technology to reach your people, and this technology also has its own forms of etiquette that have to be followed as a leader to be able to effectively communicate with your constituents.
Digital tools are usually not used to their potential, and this is why it’s important to make sure that African women leaders acquire the skills to fully use them. This is even more important when they are canvassing for votes during election season. Kenya, for example, is going to their presidential polls and many candidates have had a digital strategy that involves social media being the key to reaching out to their millennial and gen Z voters who are of legal voting age.
This means they are harnessing the power of digital communication and making sure they are heard wherever prospective voters are.
We spoke to Asha D. Abinallah, one of the Advisory Board Members for the VOTE: Women about digital inclusion for women in leadership.
Asha D. Abinallah is an Information Technology and Media Expert, a Master’s Degree holder from the University of Leeds in United Kingdom. She works at the Intersection of Information, Innovation, Technology, Internet Governance and Digital Practices with eleven years in the ICT Field. A Founder of Media Convergency, an ICT based Company with its headquarters in Tanzania, Abinallah is a recipient of the Excellence in Leadership 2022 of Women in Management Africa award in the STEM category. She is passionate in advocating for digital adaptation, digital inclusion and enhancing online participation for youth and women which she drives agenda through the regional Women at Web Project. Her hobbies are Politics, Relationship Dynamics, Books, Movies and Music.
Does shining a light on the imbalance between women politicians and male politicians make the women look unprepared for politics?
It does especially when done wrong. This depends on the kind of approach used to shine that light. It should be noted that good intention alone is not enough to encourage, inspire and spotlight on Women in Politics. It’s crucial to be keen with the communication language and approach to make sure that that shined light really does showcase the imbalance between women politicians and male politicians for the good.
How can we encourage more women to incorporate digital technologies in their leadership activities?
Speak their language. The right way is not straightforward or rigid, it depends on the women in question. What do they believe in, What is their goal and vision? How can you showcase what they are missing by the lack of incorporating Digital Technologies in their activities? When you know and understand them, then you can speak their language. From understanding them, you acquire a friendly way for encouragement. For example, If the challenge is vulnerabilities brought by digital technologies, then you capacitate them with relevant skills such as online resilience.
How can the VOTE: Women Digital Leadership Training, beyond the training, help in closing the gap for so many African women in leadership who keep lagging behind when it comes to effective campaigning and engagement with their communities compared to other women leaders?
VOTE: Women is doing great work. The only thing required of it, is to make sure that there is consistency. And most importantly the ability to reach out to a bigger number of targets.
What about the VOTE: Women Programme and/or training excites you?
I work very closely in the area, I am passionate about Digital Technologies, I believe in Online Community Engagement and I wish to see more Women Leaders in Politics online
Who in your country and network should we collaborate with in future? Give them a shout here!
I am based in Tanzania, and I would like to give a shout out to my fellow Women at Web East African Project Implementers in Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda. It has been such a wonderful journey on enhancing Women participation online since 2017 when we first launched the Project supported by DW Akademie funded by GIZ.
Is there a way we can encourage the Government and the East Africa Community to implement already existing laws to protect women online against harassment?
Yes. To consistently advocate online and offline and most importantly to work closely with the key stakeholders such Policy Makers with an end goal of protecting women online against harassment. As Media Convergence we are working specifically on this since early 2021 with intent to have at least a tabled bill (if not law) by the end of 2024. We are advocating for laws and policies that take into consideration Online Gender-based Violence. We have been able to showcase the seriousness of the matter through a study which has collected data from 396 Women Leaders in Politics. The study is public online named “An Overview of Online Gender-based Violence of Women in Politics in Tanzania.’’