Uganda Media Women's Association
P.O. Box 7263, Kampala-Uganda 
Phone #1:  256-41-543996
Phone #2:  256-077-469363
Fax:  256-41-543996

Margaret Sentamu-Masagazi

    Uganda Media Women’s Association (UMWA), formed in 1983, is a non-governmental organisation for female journalists from government and private media. The association is voluntary and non-partisan as well as non-profit making. However, with time spent searching for economic sustainability, UMWA  (the association) stages and carries out activities to generate funds. As an association of professional women journalists, the primary goal is to promote interactive communication and to enhance visibility and status among the less advantaged groups so that equal gender relations can be realized. These women not only possess skills in writing and dissemination of information about disadvantaged groups, but also have the capacity to carry out research on issues of concern. The members ordinarily possess skills in filming, drama, editing, administration, arts and design, accounting, project planning, implementation and monitoring, public relations and administration. 



    Since her inception in 1983, UMWA has been administered by the eleven member executive committee assisted by on and off sub-committees on Finance, Projects, Disciplinary, Publicity and Welfare. For a large part of 1983–1989, UMWA’s activities were affected by the political instability that befell this country. In 1990 the organisation was re-activated. Important to note, however, is that the elected Chairperson and the General Secretary have done the actual running of the organisation. On a voluntary basis the two often spend from their pockets, making UMWA owe her existence to the two and two or three other members. The ‘secretariat’ has been therefore ‘mobile’ until 1997. In 1999 UMWA acquired a permanent home at plot 226 Kisaasi, where the secretariat now sits. Three full time staff members are charged with the day to day activities while part-time Program Officers run it. A Coordinator works with an Administrative/Accounts Assistant and a Secretary heads the secretariat. Auditors also regularly visit the office.


     In 1997, UMWA officially undertook a Rural Outreach Program (ROP) in ten districts which was aimed at sensitizing the community on their rights and topical issues. ROP is responding to the long felt marginalisation of women in the political, economic and social fields and focuses on the provision and dissemination of accurate information as a major tool for development. The program is in line with the fundamental right to speak and be heard.
     The immediate advantages of ROP are expansion of media coverage and a chance for the rural folks’ views and needs to be published in the Ugandan media. The long term goal for this activity is to establish a community based media station. The topics range from family life issues to political rights education. We do this in the form of workshops, seminars, and drama, in which members encourage on-spot dialogue. UMWA also encourages women's groups to constitute themselves into drama groups, that adapt plays and compose songs from the issues discussed for staging in the communities and on the private/public media. This is while ROP encourages a radio listening culture, as all 30 community-based organisations have received radio sets.
     In the 1996 Presidential and parliamentary elections, UMWA was one of the five NGO’s that participated in civic education, spearheading media related civic voter education activities including; development of messages for radio and television spots, printing of media statements and articles, ratio and television theatre, and video documentary on the electoral process. Career guidance is given to encourage girls, at an early age, to take up journalism as a career. The goal is to bridge the gap between women and men.


  ROP is responding to the long felt marginalisation for women in the political, economic and social fields. ROP focuses on the provision and dissemination of accurate information as a major tool for development. The immediate advantages are expansion of media coverage and a chance for the rural folks’ views and needs published in the Ugandan media. The long term for this activity is to establish a community based media station.
     The women journalists visit a district four times in a year to conduct participatory workshops on a range of issues. Family life, reproductive rights, constitutional rights, political and economic rights are represented, among others. During the workshop, observations and questions are made for the rest of the audience to consider. The issues raised most often are adapted into plays which are staged within the communities for a fee to contribute to the sustainability of the project. On every visit the women journalists carry with them recorded programs for the people in the rural areas. They in turn record the participants’ (women and men) experiences, which are aired on Radio Uganda or published in the local newspapers.
     UMWA operates in ten districts: Mbarara, Kasese, Luweero, Mbale, Soroti, Moroto, Apac, Arua and Masindi. In each district the association operates with three women contact groups who mobilise the rest of the community for workshops or radio listening. Each group receives a radio set(s) and each group again constitutes itself into a radio listening club. The workshops have been a tremendous success, attracting over 600 participants.


   In order to maintain the level of expansion and success of the association, donations are continually needed and appreciated. Currently, the organisation relies on using public transport. The association actually needs a video recording van which will bring video recordings out in the rural areas. This will not only focus on women’s initiatives for development but also on children’s issues. The van will serve women groups in Uganda. For sustainability, the association hopes to strengthen the public relations and advertising component. Another goal is to expand its ROP programs to other districts of the country. Radio programs on health and environmental protection, among others, will complement ROP and funding is needed for that as well.
     The need to respond to all the requests from the rural areas requires a fully fledged Secretariat. To date, only three full staff are straining themselves to respond to the need, and recruitment of at least three full time Program Officers is vital. The media women boast of the communication skills but are not well versed with all developmental issues. Some women lack assertive and confidence skills, therefore, training in a cross section of areas is a must. The establishment of a radio station requires enormous funding. Funding for the secretariat was only certain up to the year 2000 and the response the association has generated from all stakeholders including the public is enormous and currently does not have the capacity to respond accordingly. 

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All rights reserved. Revised: February 19, 2006