4 min

Open Heroines Turns Six!

Multiple people in a room.
Written by
Published on
January 17, 2022

It’s our sixth anniversary today!

The idea that was birthed in Mexico City at the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Summit in 2015 has now blossomed into a global community with over 700 members.

For the most part, Open Heroines (OH) has been volunteer-run. As we expand, we have recently hired three consultants to push our mission and vision forward.

Reflecting on the organisation’s growth and the amazing volunteers that have held our hand, Mor Rubinstein, Open Heroines’ co-founder, reckons that everyone gives when they can and that no one can be switched on for eternity. “I think we hit a point in the last two years when things got rough for everyone and it was hard to ask for people’s time because this pandemic has already been a burden on everyone. I am glad that now we can dedicate paid people who are also community members to help and that new members of the community feel that they can come and contribute as well,” she adds.

Multiple women discussing.

Some of our key highlights in the six-year journey include:-

1. Getting a grant from the Hewlett Foundation. We are not a formal organisation, so getting a grant from the Hewlett Foundation, twice, is a really big thing for us. It not only allowed us to get more women to conferences but also to organise events local and international ones such as Do-a-thon. The grant has also helped us to learn about our community and grow it.

One of our travel grantee’s, Tracy Kadessa, recently became our community coordinator!

Women at a meeting.

Another one of our grantees, Jamila Farouk Dawula, documented her experience at the 2018 International Open Data Conference (IODC) in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Read it here.

2. Our work on abolishing Manels, that includes a guide for “The Guy Who Got Stuck on a Manel”.

3. Seeing the Feminist Open Government programme at OGP becoming a reality. Many Heroines were involved, and we hope that all relevant actors will keep the ball rolling on it for years to come. Here is a reflective blog on the gender activity in the 2021 OGP Summit by OH’s Community Coordinator, Marisa Miodosky.

Group of women taking a picture.

4. Our partnerships with Open Government Partnership, International Open Data Conference (IDRC) and many more local organisations where our community members work.

A special shout out to Development Gateway, our fiscal and logistical home. Words can not thank them enough for being so supportive and letting us just be us.

3 women at a conference.

For Mor, one of her highlights was the introduction of OH’s Open Gender Monologues in 2016. “When we first ran them in Paris, I remember the confusion of the people in the room who were looking for a panel and instead saw people speaking from the crowd. It was very powerful for me. The room was packed and people spontaneously shared their own experience too,” she recounts. “We ran it in OGP again in the following years and while we still write them on the blog (read the latest here), I think the face-to-face version is still very powerful and can’t move to the digital world as easily.”

Woman giving a speech.

Our hope for 2022 is to be more collaborative and fulfil our mission. Mor observes that after some good momentum in 2018–2019, the pandemic pushed gender issues in open gov and data to the side, and hopes that we can work more on these issues in 2022. “I also hope that we can all learn more from one another in the next year. This community is full of incredible people that teach me something new all the time and I am very grateful to it!”

“Congratulations OH! I was one of the OH pioneers in 2015. I felt very relieved to have a space where I could talk with other women about feminism, which is a topic that I believe in and that I always wanted to talk about, but in an environment so dominated by men, it was difficult. Then, very strong topics came up in the community and OH was always a good place to talk about them. There is still a long way to go for OH to be a well-represented place, especially by the more vulnerable communities. But, having the space to be able to speak, bounce around ideas and share as a community leader is very valuable,” Paulina Bustos, Mexico

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