Women in the Africa Community Networks Movement

As most responses to the COVID-19 pandemic were online, the unconnected were excluded not just from access to the Internet but also to much-needed information and services that affected livelihoods, education, and health.

Community networks (CNs) are a holistic approach to digital inclusion. They are citizen-driven networks that are deployed, operated, and maintained by communities in a way that aligns with their local needs and priorities.

However, community networks are male-dominated and are therefore contributing to a greater gender divide. So, as the community network movement continues to grow in Africa, it’s important that we view them through an intersectional and gender-informed lens.

About the session

This session looked at the role that women play in community networks, the challenges and, more importantly, opportunities for change.

We explored the following questions, and more:

  • Who designs, runs, and leads community networks?
  • What role are women playing in building the community networks movement in Africa?
  • What are the experiences of women involved in community networks?
  • How can CNs expand the space that women are trying to occupy in the community networks movement?
  • How can we create CNs that are gender-informed and include the rights of women even in the most rural and marginalized parts of Africa?
Date and Time

12:00 – 13:30 UTC

Wednesday 18 May 2022




Anriette Esterhuysen

Senior Advisor on Internet Governance, Policy Advocacy and Strategic Planning

Anriette Esterhuysen was the executive director of APC until March 2017. Prior to joining APC, Anriette was executive director of SANGONeT, an internet service provider and training institution for civil… Read more

Doreen Luhanga

Centre for Youth and Development (CYD)

Doreen Luhanga is computer engineering graduate from Livingstonia University, Malawi. She is passionate about developing technology that will assist in social-economic development. To enhance her skills in development, she attended… Read more

Harira Abdulrahman Wakili

Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD)

Harira Abdulrahman Wakili is a digital entrepreneur, gender and internet rights advocate, 2018 fellow at the African School on Internet Governance, Digital Grassroots Ambassador and Social Media Officer at the… Read more

Immaculate Laker

Battery Operated System for Community Outreach (BOSCO)

Immaculate Laker is a young, down-to-earth professional Information and Communication Technology (ICT) graduate from Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda. A keen person in developing her work skills, Immaculate added to her… Read more

Kgopotso Ditshego Magoro

Mamaila Community Network

Kgopotso Ditshego Magoro was born and bred in Mamaila Village, Limpopo Province, South Africa. She holds a Masters of Management degree in the field of ICT Policy and Regulation (MMICTPR)… Read more

Nic Bidwell

Aalborg University

Nic Bidwell has made community networks (CNs) more visible to Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), a research field in which she focuses on technologies in rural contexts and supporting African researchers. She… Read more

Risper Akinyi

Tunapanda Institute

Risper is passionate about community development through socio economic empowerment. She provided gender support in Learning Lions Turkana through mainstreaming of gender in the program and pioneered Techdada initiative in… Read more

Sol Luca de Tena

Zenzeleni Community Networks

Sol has spent her life living and working between South Africa and Spain, and calls both countries home. She has over a decade of experience in strategic project management within… Read more

Yumna Panday

Zenzeleni Community Networks

The transition from cost control in the hospitality industry to project support coordinator within the community networks environment has been a welcoming one, filled with many lessons learned and unlearned… Read more