In celebration of International Women’s Day 2021, at the Global Data Barometer we have taken this time to reflect on the importance of women leaders in achieving a future in which data is managed as a resource for the public good. This year’s theme, “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world”, is a reminder for all to be cognisant of the tremendous efforts of women and girls across the world to make the world a more equal place. This year we remember and celebrate the women who have stood in the frontline, fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic.
In their State of Open Data chapter on Gender Equity Ana Brandusescu and Nnenna Nwakanma explored the challenges the open data field needs to meet in shifting from an often male-dominated space to one in which women have equity, influence, and positions of leadership. They highlight three key issues:
- Access — women need equal access to technology and connectivity, and safe and secure spaces within which to engage with data.
- Representation — there needs to be action to address both the data gap, and the data distortions that mean data fails to represent women’s concerns and lived experience.
- Labour and leadership — drawing attention not only to the need for more gender equality in terms of who is working on data in general, but also for consideration of the pressures put on women, and the power women have, in shaping data agendas, ecosystems, and practices.
These issues are key to achieving and maintaining more equitable communities. When more women and girls have access to technology and the opportunities to learn and lead with it, more opportunities can be available to them, increasing their influence. In terms of labour and leadership, Brandusescu and Nwakanma emphasize the importance of taking into account the particular labour undertaken by women in data communities, and making sure the emotional and intellectual labour involved in sustaining data projects is valued and recognised.
We acknowledge the importance of women’s leadership in ensuring that in the future more data is available for the public good. UN Women has underscored the importance of fighting for women’s equal participation in political and public life if we are to succeed in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. With this in mind, we have committed to ensuring that our work is inclusive and conscious of the gender biases and inequities in the different countries where we will conduct research.
We’re working to integrate inclusion, equity, gender, and diversity concerns across both our upcoming data collection and our wider project work at the Barometer. On the 1st of March we gathered a group of critical friends to review a first draft of how we can address gender issues (alongside other inclusion and equity concerns) in the Barometer. We are immensely grateful for the feedback we received, and are thinking deeply about how we can pick up on some of the issues raised to better capture issues of women’s access, representation, labour, and leadership in the Barometer. We would welcome additional feedback. The draft will be open for comment until March 15th.