I’m headed to Rwanda to participate in a training for the ACE project, a network of African Women’s Leadership organizations in the Sub-Saharan region. The project is designed and implemented by IIE/Sub-Saharan Office and funded by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation PRH program. The participating NGOs include Women’s Leadership NGOs from Ethiopia I’ll be co-training with Kalyani Menon-Sen, a feminist activist, researcher and adult educator based in Delhi, India to deliver sessions on the Networked NGO, networks, and networking with social media. Over the next two weeks, I will be sharing what I learn about the connections of networks, networked approaches, and social media for Women’s Rights NGOs in Africa.
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been applying my online networking and network weaving skills to discover the conversations and people on Twitter (and other social media spaces) talking about Women’s Leadership issues. I took a deep dive with Twitter to discover where African women are tweeting after seeing this report, “How Africa Tweets” and focused in on Rwanda.
Many government leaders in Rwanda have embraced Twitter, both in the “official’ capacity, tweeting from their Ministry’s profile for formal communication or often from a personally branded profile. There are many women in leadership government positions in Rwanda, and many are on Twitter. The first of the Rwandan Twitter “peeps” that I discovered was the President of Rwanda – Paul Kagame who is very active on Twitter. He responds to questions and has conversations as well as confrontations with journalists (and others) in his personally branded Twitter account. There is also the “official” President of Rwanda account which is for more formal communications. While I was not able to find the First Lady Mrs. Jeannette Kagame on Twitter (if anyone does know her account, please share in the comments), I discovered that her NGO, Imbuto Foundation, was on Twitter.
The Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion office keeps a consistent schedule of informational news on gender issues with a focus on Rwanda and Minister Inyumba Aloisea also tweets from her personal account. The Ministry of Health is also quite active on Twitter both from the formal, official account Ministry Twitter profile and Minister Agnes Bingawaho who is very active on Twitter. She hosts a bi-weekly Twitter Chat called “Minister Mondays” which kicked off 6 months ago with a Twitter chat about family planning, curated on Storify by Packard Foundation Program Officer Sandra Bass.
I was quickly able to identify some great lists of Twitter users including Women Rights Organizations, News Sources, Funders, and a wide variety of African Women’s issues – all sharing information and engaging in conversation on Twitter. While there bandwidth challenges, Twitter is accessible for by SMS in some of the countries – and it would be an simply way to network and keep on top of one’s professional area.