Access For All (AFA) recently held a digital literacy and security training #AFADST2019 for refugee human rights defenders within the East African region. With support from The Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), the two- day event targeted activists from different community based organizations in Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), South Sudan and Eritrea.

According to the Executive Director of AFA Asan Juma who is also a South Sudanese refugee living in Uganda, most human rights activists and women leaders commonly use technology in their advocacy work which makes them prone to challenges especially cyber harassment. "I believe that one can be harassed directly or indirectly and sometimes they don't even know that they are even being abused through the internet," the AFA ED shared. Asan's hope for the participants was that they are imparted with skills on how to keep safe online as they continue with their different forms of activism. He further encouraged those that had prior training in this field to take advantage of the opportunity as a refresher course since the world keeps changing and there is need to stay updated.

Facilitated by a Digital Security Executive from Defenders Protection Initiative (DPI), participants were given an introduction to digital literacy and security. The facilitator stressed the need for HRDs to gain control and protect the information stored or shared using their electronic devices.

Through sharing their life experiences on cyber harassment, women HRDs mentioned that online abuse towards them was visible through cyber bullying, stalking, revenge porn and public humiliation on social media. They disclosed that the perpetrators were usually a friend, intimate partner or relative. In group presentations, participants brainstormed on the security threats that come with using their electronic gadgets especially smart phones and solutions on how to mitigate these.

The attendees were also taken through a range of hands on sessions on data safety protocol, safe browsing and privacy through encryption, anti-viruses, app-locks, encryption and a number of backup options to avoid loss and misuse of sensitive information saved on their devices.

Here are some of the reactions from the participants that took part in #AFADST2019

"The AFA digital security and literacy training has been timely as it equipped us with the knowledge and skills we need to protect ourselves from criminal elements,” Shilla, Executive Director at Golden Centre for Women's Rights.

"This training has helped us learn how to encrypt data on our computers and phones in order to protect our sensitive documents and private content. Thank you, AFA! Thank you, CIPESA,” Natasha Siima, Executive Director at Simma Africa Creatives Arts Foundation.

"I thought I knew a lot about computers and phones but this made me realize that I didn't know much. It was really insightful and impactful. Hope we continue to do more of these kinds of training to learn how to stay safe in our spaces,” Hadi, an Eritrean Refugee living in Uganda.

Access For All (AFA) is South Sudan LGBT and refugee led organization currently based in Uganda with an aim to influence and implement sustainable programs that improve livelihoods for urban LGBTI refugees.