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Exploring Challenges Facing Women using Open Data in Cambodia

A woman presenting.
Written by
Published on
September 12, 2020

This post is part of our series on the Open Heroines Community Events Fund to support local or international OH meet ups on gender and the intersection of data/open government/civic tech.

It was written by Siv Vatana, Research and Content Officer at Open Development Cambodia. Open Development Cambodia provides the public with up-to-date, accurate information about Cambodia and its economic and social development by compiling freely available data in a ‘one-stop shop’.

The theme for Open Data Day 2020 “Equal Development” is aligned with the Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The fifth sustainable development goal focuses on Gender Equality, so we decided to take a look at women’s roles in open data for our event. This was fitting, as we were also celebrating International Women’s Day.

Women’s participation in Open Data will contribute significantly to the development of open data as well as enhance gender equality in society. With the support of Open Heroines, Open Data Day 2020 had a considerable number of women participating. Out of 60 participants, 30 percent were women.

Woman speaking on a stage.

Ms. Ourn Vimoil, program and partnership officer of Open Development Cambodia, gave an exceptional presentation about key research findings from the study of women’s engagement in open data. The main objective of the research is to understand how Cambodian women perceive, understand and access open data in the country. The study wants to identify key challenges women have faced when they access open data and information.

The study found out that large numbers of Cambodian women understand what open data is but only a few are aware of the meaningful definition of the term and its limitations. There are numerous difficulties women have to deal with when they try to access open data and using technology. These include capacity issues, knowing how to use data, security concerns and narrow choices of trusted data channels.

Her research has proposed key recommendations including improving data literacy through education at all levels, improving data quality, and increasing the accessibility of events by taking into account barriers preventing women from participating.

Ms. Vimoil’s presentation highlighted various initiatives from different stakeholders that aim to enhance women’s access to and use of data and technology. For example, the Cambodian Women in Tech Award, Cambodian Women ICT Engineering Award, Girl Innovator Award, Technovation, Pink Telephones, Project Girl Code and Development Innovations project.

People working on laptop.

Another fun and knowledgeable activity was the Hackathon session. It was a rare opportunity for the audience to take part in a data visualization process. We formed 3 groups consisting of 5 members, and each group has at least two female members which are an impressive statistic for a technology competition.

Key objectives of this Hackathon session are to raise awareness of the potential of the use of open data and tech to advocate for equal development, to inject participants with tech knowledge and to make use of open data to produce digital data-driven stories to promote gender equality in Cambodia.

Under the guidance of mentors, they were assigned to produce data stories that promote gender equality in the education sector in Cambodia. The National Institute of Statistics report of the Ministry of Education in Cambodia was used as the database for the group. They were asked to find any statistical data related to gender in Cambodia’s education system in the last five years.

After the participants had finished processing the data, they were asked to make a data story using data visualization tools. To wrap up the session, each group presented their stories to compete for the best data story.

People at a meeting.

Watch Open Development Cambodia’s video to get an overview of Open Day 2020, visit their website and follow them on Twitter.

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