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Collaborative Innovation: The Dynamic Relationship Between NGOs and Regulators

In today’s rapidly changing world, NGOs have emerged as powerful change agents, addressing social, environmental, and humanitarian issues. These organizations, driven by passion and purpose, often collaborate with regulators to navigate complex challenges and make a lasting impact. This article explores the unique angle of the collaborative relationship between NGOs and their regulators, highlighting the innovative approaches they employ to drive positive change.

1. Embracing Shared Goals:

NGOs and regulators often share common objectives, such as promoting human rights, environmental sustainability, or social justice. By aligning their goals, these entities can work hand in hand, leveraging their respective strengths to achieve meaningful outcomes. Through open dialogue and mutual understanding, NGOs and regulators can effectively create policies and frameworks that address societal needs.

2. Co-Creation of Solutions:

Innovation thrives when diverse perspectives come together. NGOs, with their grassroots knowledge and hands-on experience, bring valuable insights. Regulators, on the other hand, possess expertise in policy-making and governance. By collaborating, NGOs and regulators can co-create innovative solutions that are both practical and sustainable. This collaborative approach ensures that policies and regulations are not only effective but also rooted in real-world experiences.

3. Leveraging Technology:

Technology has become a powerful tool for NGOs and regulators in the digital age. From leveraging data analytics to enhance decision-making to utilizing social media platforms for advocacy, technology has revolutionized the way these entities operate. NGOs and regulators can harness the power of technology to streamline processes, amplify their impact, and engage with a wider audience. By embracing digital innovations, they can adapt to changing landscapes and address emerging challenges effectively.

4. Building Trust and Transparency:

Trust is the foundation of any successful collaboration. NGOs and regulators must foster an environment of trust and transparency to ensure a productive partnership. Open communication channels, regular consultations, and shared information contribute to building trust between these entities. By establishing strong relationships, NGOs and regulators can work together more effectively, creating a positive ecosystem for change.

The relationship between NGOs and regulators is a dynamic and evolving one. These entities can create a synergistic approach to address complex challenges by embracing collaboration and innovation. Through our Talk to Your Regulator program, DPI brings together NGOs and their regulators to build strategic relationships and foster a suitable and accommodating working environment.

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Investing in Women’s Safety and Security

We hope you were celebrated or honored by the women in your life, and we encourage you to continue this appreciation beyond Women’s Day.

Speaking of Women’s Day, this year’s theme, “Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress,” underscores the critical need for increased financing in gender equality efforts, including funding gender-responsive, green energy initiatives, and support for female and feminist changemakers.

These challenges notwithstanding, as experts in the fields of security, safety, and human rights, we have witnessed firsthand how the unique security risks and threats faced by women impede progress not only toward achieving equity but also in improving their overall quality of life.

Here are four impactful ways in which we can invest in women to accelerate progress through enhanced security and safety measures.

Enhancing  Responsiveness of Security and Justice Institutions 

According to a 2020 Violence Against Women and Girls Survey (VAWG) conducted by UBOS, a staggering 95% of women surveyed reported experiencing physical and sexual violence. Shockingly, only 45% of those who had experienced intimate partner physical and sexual violence chose to report it, primarily due to a deep-seated mistrust in the judicial system.

Despite efforts such as the establishment of Gender-Based Violence help desks by Uganda Police, significant gaps remain in addressing these issues effectively. There is an urgent need to bolster the responsiveness of law enforcement and judicial institutions in apprehending and prosecuting perpetrators. Strengthening these mechanisms is crucial in not only delivering justice to survivors but also contributing significantly to deterring future occurrences.

GBV Toll Free Helpline 0800199195

Support, NOT Survivor Blaming

The UBOS survey also revealed that the other reasons why women opted not to report physical/sexual abuse were fear of being blamed for the incidents and the threat of continued abuse or worse consequences by their abusers if they spoke up.

In light of these distressing findings, it is clear that women who have endured abuse and violations, need tools and assistance to cope, recover, and pursue justice, to help them navigate these harrowing experiences and gradually rebuild a sense of safety and stability in their lives. This can be informed by psychosocial support or training in basic self-defense skills among others.

Equipping Women with Knowledge and Skills to Navigate the Evolving Digital Landscape

In today’s rapidly evolving digital world, it’s crucial to empower women with the necessary knowledge and skills to navigate cyberspaces safely. This includes providing them with the tools to prevent, recognize, and respond to cyber-attacks effectively. Explore our website for digital security support options/offerings.

As more aspects of our lives move online, women are increasingly vulnerable to various forms of digital abuse, including hacking, cyberbullying, harassment, and online stalking. By skilling women in cybersecurity and digital safety, we can empower women to protect themselves against such threats and confidently engage in online activities.

Investing in Gender-Inclusive Tech for Safety and Security 

By allocating resources toward the creation and refinement of tech tools tailored to women’s needs, we can address existing safety concerns and foster a more inclusive digital environment. 

Here are a few we like; digitalsafetea.com safebangle.org bitdefender.com 

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Child/Teen Online Safety Tips and Tools

More children and teenagers are actively engaging with the internet, and this trend is expected to persist. However, the online environment hasn’t always been tailored to cater to the needs of minors. Therefore, it is crucial to prioritise their safety. In honour of Safer Internet Month, here are some essential tips and tools parents, educators, and even the young netizens can use to guarantee online safety.

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Data Privacy and Protection: Essential Insights for NPOs.

Like other organisations/companies, Non-Profit Organisations (NPOs) collect and utilise data from their program participants, partners or donors. It is therefore imperative that they prioritize data privacy and protection.

Data privacy and protection essentially entail safeguarding sensitive personally identifiable information, covering data collection, storage, and organizational use. Data collected by NPOs may include details such as names, addresses, emails, and financial information. 

Here are key insights for NPOs as they navigate the landscape of data privacy and protection.

Why Data Privacy and Protection?

Data protection and privacy aren’t just checkboxes for NPOs; failure to safeguard sensitive information can lead to severe consequences, posing significant risks to organisations.

Loss of Data

Losing valuable data can be detrimental to an NPO’s operations. Whether it’s program participant information, donor records, or financial data, the loss of such information can disrupt essential activities and hinder effective decision-making. Additionally, recovering lost data can be a time-consuming and costly process. 

Financial Loss

Data breaches can lead to financial losses. NPOs may face financial liabilities associated with rectifying the situation. This could include expenses related to legal actions, regulatory fines, or compensating affected individuals. By implementing robust data protection measures, the risk of financial loss can be minimised and resources can be allocated to their core mission.

Damage to Reputation

NPOs and civil society organizations in general rely heavily on the trust and support of their stakeholders, including donors, partners, and the civil society at large. A data breach or mishandling of sensitive information can severely damage their reputation. Negative publicity, loss of trust, and public scrutiny can have long-term consequences. 

What to Do: Take Action

Digital Security

One of the primary steps in ensuring data protection is to prioritize digital security—measures to secure all data collected, processed, or stored electronically. This includes implementing robust firewalls, encryption techniques, and access controls to prevent unauthorized access or damage to sensitive information. Regularly updating security software and conducting vulnerability assessments can help identify and address any potential vulnerabilities in the organization’s systems. Additionally, establishing strong internal policies and educating staff about cybersecurity best practices can significantly enhance data protection.

Transparency

It is crucial to provide data subjects with enough information to make informed decisions about the data collected from them to obtain informed consent. This includes being transparent about the purpose of data collection, how it will be used, and whether it will be shared with any third parties. This can be achieved through clear and concise privacy policies, consent forms, and opt-in mechanisms. 

Compliance

Compliance with relevant data privacy and protection laws can minimise the risk of legal consequences and demonstrate their commitment to protecting individuals’ privacy.

The Personal Data Protection and Privacy Act 2019, spells out specific regulations on data handling. It may also be helpful for NPOs to familiarise themselves with international laws, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), to stay informed about how data may be used by third parties operating under EU jurisdiction. This also ensures that they (NPOs) handle data from the same jurisdiction in a way that aligns with the required standards.

Where To Start: Available Resources 

  • At DPI, we provide training and capacity building in data privacy and protection specifically tailored for NGOs. Feel free to reach out to us here for assistance.
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The Strength of Strategic Coalitions: Showcasing the Impact of the Digital Security Alliance and NPO Coalition on FATF.

The pivotal role played by strategic coalitions in advancing our mission cannot be overstated. This month we highlight key wins of the Digital Security Alliance (DSA) and the NPO Coalition on FATF, shedding light on their contributions to empowering Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) and cultivating supportive ecosystems.

Digital Security Alliance (DSA)

Digital Security Clinics:

Through our Digital Security Clinics, we have significantly extended our impact in fortifying the cybersecurity resilience of HRDs. This month’s focus was on empowering grassroots HRDs and CBOs, which are most burdened with emerging digital challenges such as limited access due to slow or no internet connectivity, data loss, and the absence of enabling ICT hardware and infrastructure, such as cell towers and computers.

The Digital Security Clinics successfully fortified the digital security capacity of civil society organizations (CSOs) in the Eastern subregion, including the Pallisa Civil Society Organization Network (PACONET), Public Affairs Center of Uganda (PACUganda), Soroti, the Kapchorwa Civil Society Organizations Alliance, and the Joshua’s Cheptegei Development Foundation.

DSA served as the official digital security partner for the 5th edition of the Human Rights Convention hosted by Chapter Four Uganda and the 5th Annual Women’s Week hosted by Uganda Women’s Network (UWONET). These workshops addressed multifaceted issues, including limited access, insufficient digital literacy, and socio-cultural barriers discouraging women’s engagement with ICT.

NPO Coalition on FATF

Global NPO Consultation on Recommendation 8

The Global NPO Coalition on FATF played a pivotal role in the success of the “Risk and Consequence: The Future of FATF Recommendation 8 for Financial Integrity and Civil Society” conference. This convening brought together policymakers, standard setters, financial institutions, nonprofit organizations (NPOs), multilateral organisations, academics, and think tanks, all of whom contributed their input to the revision of the FATF Recommendation 8.

Furthermore, the Coalition submitted recommendations to the FATF Public Consultation on revisions to Recommendation 8 and its Interpretive Note. The approved revised standard clarifies the application of the risk-based approach, acknowledges sectoral self-regulation measures, and explicitly states that NPOs should not be considered obliged entities.

As we reflect on the achievements of the Digital Security Alliance and NPO Coalition on FATF, we are inspired to continue fostering alliances, enhancing outreach, and creating lasting impacts on the front lines of advocacy. The journey toward safeguarding human rights defenders remains a collective endeavor, and we look forward to the shared progress that lies ahead.

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Simple Digital Security Measures YOU Should Implement

As we end #CyberSecurityAwareness month, you have most likely consumed a wealth of information, including dos and don’ts, warnings, and cautionary tales. We understand that some of this content might appear complex or daunting to grasp. So here are a few straightforward yet highly impactful digital security measures that you can implement today to stay one step ahead in the realm of cybersecurity.

Securing Your Messages and Calls 

While most messaging platforms like Signal, WhatsApp, and Telegram offer end-to-end encryption for messages and calls, you can go a step further in fortifying the security of your communications by using Face ID or Finger Print Lock as an additional layer of protection from unauthorized access to your messages.

However, it is important to utilize this feature alongside a pattern unlock or PIN because once biometric data is compromised, it cannot be replaced.

For Apple users, it’s important to limit the scope of your messages and, if necessary, disable messages in iCloud for enhanced privacy and security. By doing this, you can restrict the synchronization of your messages to a single device, minimizing the risk of unauthorized access or data leaks.

Using  VPN for Secure Browsing

In Uganda, many of us primarily associate Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) with bypassing blocked social media platforms like Facebook. However, the utility of VPNs extends far beyond this. They add a crucial layer of security by encrypting your internet connection and shielding your online activities from prying eyes whether you are engaged in tasks within your Google Suite or conducting online banking transactions

Browsers like Opera and Tor come with a built-in VPN, eliminating the need to constantly toggle it on and off. 

Password and Pass-Keys Generators

Managing strong and unique passwords for all your online accounts can be a daunting task. Luckily, both the Play and App stores offer a password generator that can generate and save passwords for your multiple online accounts. However, exercise caution and use this feature on private computers only. Unauthorized access to your Google Account or Apple ID could lead to breaches of your other accounts.

Software Updates 

Downloading and installing software updates for your devices and the applications used on them is one of the simplest methods to maintain optimal digital security. These updates enable tech companies to fix any bugs and vulnerabilities in their products that could be exploited by hackers or malware. Don’t ignore that software update notification on your computer any longer!

By implementing these simple digital security measures, you can significantly enhance your online safety and protect your valuable information from potential threats. Remember to remain vigilant and enjoy secure browsing.

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Harnessing the Potential of Collaboration and Partnerships for Social Impact

The significance of partnerships and collaborative efforts in advancing the goals and activities of civil society has become more evident than ever before. This month, we take a moment to reflect on the profound impact of collaboration and partnership in advancing our mandate.


Fostering Knowledge Exchange
In collaboration with the Civic Advisory Hub and the NPO Coalition on FATF – East and Southern Africa Chapter, we took a significant step forward in advocacy efforts for the adoption of a risk-based approach to the monitoring and legislation of NPOs in the context of countering terrorism financing.


During a successful webinar titled “Understanding NPO Risk Assessment on Terrorism Financing,” NPO leaders from the region shared their experiences, lessons learned, and criteria for NPO risk assessment working groups. Together, we explored the critical role that NGOs play in these assessments and discussed the essential qualities required for effective participation.


Empowering Communities through Digital Security: Our #RoadToFIFAfrica Journey
We embarked on an exhilarating regional campaign known as #RoadToFIFAfrica, spanning from Kampala to Nairobi, Mombasa, and culminating in Dar es Salaam. Throughout this journey, we actively connected with local communities, students, CBOs, and NGOs to address the vital topic of digital security. Our mission was clear: to equip individuals and organizations with essential digital security skills, provide them with valuable tools and knowledge, and empower them to navigate the digital world safely and confidently.


Championing Internet Freedom at FIFAfrica23
With support from CIPESA Uganda and in collaboration with Encrypt Uganda, and HRD Andrew Gole, our commitment to digital security extended to Africa’s largest gathering on Internet freedom, the Forum for Internet Freedom in Africa (#FIFAfrica23). Through the Digital Security Alliance, we extended digital security support to some of the brightest minds in Africa and worldwide, fueling their tireless efforts to safeguard internet freedom both on the continent and globally.


Multi-Sector Support and Collaboration
In addition to these dynamic initiatives, we maintain active engagement with key government ministries and agencies including the Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA) and the National Information Technology Authority (NITA-U) among others.


Our objective is to provide valuable sector insights and foster collaboration to create an enabling and supportive environment for Human Rights Defenders(HRDs) and activists. Through our regional “Talk To Your Regulator” sessions, we aim to strike a delicate balance between fostering compliance and preventing excessive regulation. We achieve this by creating awareness among NGOs about their legal compliance requirements and responsibilities while also engaging regulators on the unintended consequences that overly restrictive regulations can have on the sector. Our ultimate goal is to ensure that members of civil society can effectively fulfill their missions. This month’s engagement took place in Hoima, marking another milestone in this ongoing effort.


Suffice it to say that our journey this month underscores the power of collaboration and partnerships in driving transformative change and fostering social impact. Here’s to more partnerships and collaborations ahead.