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What Did Open Heroines Accomplish at the #IODC18 Do-A-Thon?

Women working on the desk.
Written by
Published on
October 16, 2018

Two weeks ago at the International Open Data Conference (IODC) in Buenos Aires, about 60 Open Heroines came together for a week of activity alongside other thought leaders and colleagues to listen, discuss, and collaborate in solving open data challenges. Heroines came from all over the world individually and through Open Heroines / Development Gateway travel grants — from Lagos, to Astana, to New York — to host a successful Gender Spotlight Do-A-Thon pre-event, moderate and participate in main stage gender-focused sessions, and attend a lively mix of events throughout the week. Heroines flew home from IODC with much to think about — but most importantly, our message was amplified and our community grew.

In this post, we’ll let the Do-A-Thon takeaways speak for themselves on the conversations Open Heroines brought to IODC. We spent the day working across six work streams, all focused on gender issues in “open” spaces. A few takeaways from each:

Feminist Open Government (FOGO) Initiative:

The FOGO Initiative promotes a gender-sensitive approach to open government, and this stream worked to develop a FOGO index — an essential dataset in ensuring the initiative’s impact. Participants claimed empty columns of the index, and worked to fill them with existing data. This helped us identify where there is traction, where the data gaps are, and what information is missing — what do we need to learn to ensure we’re making open government a truly open, informative platform? Development of the FOGO index allowed us to widen the scope of shareable, valuable gender data — “connecting the dots” of available data on a global scale for the first time.

As for challenges, we found several reports with tidbits of data displayed in user-friendly visualizations, but often without links to the hard data behind them — we were left wanting more numbers.

Preventing Femicide through Open Data:

This group worked on gathering data on femicides (gender violence), across different initiatives across Latin America. Participants noted each type of data source, type of organization, and methodology, and worked to gather good practices on collecting this sensitive data. Going forward, next steps include adding more countries to the database and placing it somewhere central and open (Github!) — to grow the platform, spread its message, and build the initiative.

Challenges included that femicide laws are really new in many countries in Latin America — data is not easy to find.

Open Data for Women Across the Mekong:

This project cast a wide net to assess the presence of open data for women across the Mekong. Participants gathered a list of civic tech organizations with a gender focus; as well as created a pitch for women’s organizations to educate them on engaging on open data for decision making. In focusing on issues like participation and STEM graduation rates, the group was successful in finding data, but not gender disaggregated data. Next, the group will expand its aperture to look at other topics: is there disaggregated data covering topics like education, material and reproductive health, or digital inclusiveness issues?

Similarly to other groups, challenges included massive gaps and inconsistencies in information. Currently, data can’t be collected over large enough time periods to analyze data on women’s issues to implement any evidence-based policy change.

System of Gender Indicators for the City of Buenos Aires:

This group was an exciting collaboration with the Government of the City of Buenos Aires to close the gender data gap in the city as part of its new Gender Indicator System — which groups statistical and managerial data to provide a systemic view of women in the city.

Participants spent time brainstorming methods to create interest in already-existing data, visualize the gender gap, and build methodologies to tell these stories. The group started with a story about unpaid work — despite it being perceived as “natural,” how can we use storytelling methods to communicate that it isn’t? Different target audiences, different formats, and how best to get the message across were all considered in building these stories.

Group of women at an office.
The group working on a System of Gender Indicators for the City of Buenos Aires

Extractives and Gender:

NRGI and WRI are exploring how the exploitation of natural resources impacts men and women differently, to result in the development of a concrete gender transformative resource governance framework. Currently, there is a lack of gender disaggregated data having to do with natural resources. This group aimed to diagnose company participation and disclosing this information per project. Participants identified key stakeholders such as donors working already on natural resources and gender.

Challenges included ensuring this work doesn’t replicate already-ongoing work. Additionally, we found a lack of quantitative data, but that qualitative data does exist — would a storytelling project work well in this context?

Open Heroines Website:

This project provided some “community love” to the OH website — adding OH branding, updating basic information, and providing community guidelines. By the end of the day, the website was updated with new branding and visuals, and published Rules of Engagement in Spanish and English. Additionally, we added an Instagram page to the OH social media channels.

Part of what made the Do-A-Thon so exciting was that it brought together a diverse range of experience and backgrounds to work on baseline issues that matter to all of us. We found that the best part of the Do-A-Thon was that it gave teams an open space, and an open time frame, to work. It’s not often that we have a full day set aside to work on a single project and collaborate with others doing the same — and it’s amazing what can happen when we do!

Women holding a banner.

As this was the first OH Do-A-Thon, we’ve been able to see what works — and what doesn’t — when our community comes together to solve gender-focused issues. We found answers to questions such as, how much ground can we cover in one day? And how do we make sure people who look at these issues daily, and people just joining the conversation for the first time, can work together seamlessly?

We’re continuing to build momentum on these projects by spreading the word that anyone can contribute to the Do-A-Thon projects on the GitHub page, and taking lessons learned from this event to build another — even better! — Do-A-Thon at the Open Government Partnership Summit in Ottawa, Canada.

This story was written by Emily Fung, a Business Development and Partnerships Associate at Development Gateway.

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