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‘People find us easy targets’: Women politicians face a torrent of online abuse but say they won’t stop their work

Doreen Nyanjura is a modern politician. She announced on Twitter that she would be standing in Uganda’s 2026 presidential election; has a name for her supporters — the Nyanjuraholics — and has characterized her platform with a catchy hashtag: #ThePoliticalAntidote.

But with this presence online, Nyanjura says she faces the now-standard challenges of being a woman in politics: in addition to the tweets of support or derision that most politicians on social media have become accustomed to, Nyanjura also receives tweets of misogynistic mockery.

“The table you are shaking is for Bigbouys [sic] not slayers my dear. Don’t even waste your capital unless there’s something you’re running after,” one person said, responding to Nyanjura’s announcement that she intends to run in Uganda’s 2026 presidential election against Muhoozi Kaneirugaba, the son of current president Yoweri Museveni — if he runs.

“First get married then contest on the presidential seat, (because) you can’t rule (people) who are married. What would you be advising them?” asked another.

As the Deputy Lord Mayor of Kampala, Uganda’s capital city, Nyanjura is no stranger to personal attacks online, which she tells CNN increased in volume after she took on her mayoral appointment nearly three years ago, and cover everything from the length of her hair to her age and marital status.

“The fact that I am single was another reason for the bullying with many saying that it was the reason I got the position,” insinuating that she had used sex to get ahead, Nyanjura tells CNN. People will say “I am not responsible because I am not married,” she says. And if they ever saw her with a man, even just standing next to one, “they would want to make it an issue.”

The 33-year-old politician, who was a student activist at Makerere University in Kampala before entering into politics in 2016 and joining the Forum for Democratic change (FDC), one of Uganda’s main opposition parties, says that the harassment she gets on social media and messaging platforms is worse when she advocates for gender equality.

“Many feel advocating for equity and equality is an abuse of culture and religious beliefs. For all my posts advocating for gender equity, I receive abuse or insults,” Nyanjura explains, adding that her advocacy posts on social media usually get lifted and shared across several WhatsApp groups, followed by abuse on all platforms.

Nyanjura goes on: threats of “physical attacks happen when I am planning a demonstration and posting about them on social media … I get threats of being arrested or being carried in a ‘drone’ (a nickname given to the vans that have reportedly been used in arrests of political activists in Uganda). So, I stay away from my home at such times and ask my family members to do the same,” she told CNN.

Source: cnn