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Open Data Day 2019: a joint report by Open Knowledge Colombia and Datasketch

- April 3, 2019 in colombia, gender, Open Contracting, Open Data Day, open data day 2019

This report is part of the event report series on International Open Data Day 2019. On Saturday 2nd March, groups from around the world organised over 300 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. This is a joint report produced by Open Knowledge Colombia and Datasketch, who received funding through the mini-grant scheme by Hivos / Open Contracting Partnership and the Latin American Initiative for Open Data (ILDA) to organise an event under the Equal development and Tracking Public Money themes.  It has been written by Verónica Toro (Datasketch) and Luis M. Vilches-Blázquez (Open Knowledge Colombia).


In Bogota (Colombia), we developed an event, called IgualData, focused on demonstrating and raising awareness on salary differences among genders in Colombia where different actors were involved. IgualData was performed in conjunction with the public (governmental) sector and civil society. Thus, this event was organized by the National Planning Department, National Secretary for Transparency, Ministry of Finance and Public Credit, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Colombia Buys Efficient, Datasketch, Open Contracting Partnership, Open Knowledge Colombia, Global Integrity, and the Jorge Tadeo Lozano University. More than 60 people were participating in our event with different roles (citizens, academia, social actors, governmental bodies, etc.), which had active discussions and interactions on the importance of open data in promoting gender equality and how these one help discovering the gender pay gap in the Colombian context.


The IgualData event was based on three main topics: i) gender pay gap, ii) anti-corruption and public policy with a gender approach, and iii) women participation in public purchases. These topics were useful for opening a debate on the rights and inequalities of women in the Colombian society through Open Data. Additionally, we added some open questions related to open data and gender issues, such as: How can we use open data as a tool to promote gender equality? What can be done to ensure that women, gays, lesbians, trans, bisexuals, and queers have power and benefit from the state budget? How to achieve a gender approach in the creation of public policies related to access to information?
This scenario allowed us sought to answer these questions since there are little or no reports on the budget and follow-up with the gender approach of open data, it can not be tracked or analyzed, the public budget has promoted gender equality in Colombia. Therefore, the main challenge IgualData aimed to have a global vision about the status of open data on gender issues and to discover the existing gender pay gap in Colombia through open contracts data associated with governmental bodies.


Open Knowledge Colombia and Datasketch in conjunction with National Planning Department, National Secretary for Transparency, Ministry of Finance and Public Credit, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Colombia Buys Efficient, Open Contracting Partnership, Global Integrity, and Jorge Tadeo Lozano University prepared a complete agenda for our event (IgualData). Thus, the day began with an expert panel that included women from civil society, private sector, and academia. The objective was to discuss how the governmental bodies produce the data and how they have a bias and discrimination from the forms and surveys. The allegations of manipulation of data suffered by some of these bodies and the importance of institutional strengthening with a gender and intersectional approach were put on the table since not all women are equal, nor all homosexual, bisexual or transgender people. On the other hand, we had different interventions and exhibitions from various actors associated with the public, private and societal sectors. They showed some data analysis related to official and open data from governmental bodies. Moreover, we created three working groups focused on three main topics of IgualData, where participants discussed challenges, shortcomings, and opportunities:
  • Gender pay gap. This group discussed the niches affected by the lack of data with a gender focus. Besides, they reviewed the difference between the hours’ amount worked by men and women and the availability of data.
  • Anti-corruption and public policy with a gender approach. This table discussed the current status of the General System of Anti-corruption in Colombia and dealt also with the necessity to include a gender approach and strength the available data.
  • Participation of women in public purchase. This working group put on the table the points on the data state, where highlighted the fact that the majority of data are in pdf format, which makes more difficult the massive analysis.
Finally, we presented a mosaic that was honored in tribute to Rosie the Riveter. This work was built with data on the wage gap and violence against women, figures from reports such as the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the International Labor Organization, also, included photographs of feminist, scientific, academic women and writers.

Conclusions and Lessons Learnt

We obtained different conclusions and lessons learned in the context of IgualData. Next, we list some of the main ones: With respect to (open) data and interoperability status:
  • Currently, there is no gender distinction in the National public contracting platform, called SECOP.
  • Most information related to gender issues is available in PDF format.
  • Interoperability between platforms is needed (e.g.: SECOP and SIGEP to extract data such as gender, training, experience, geographical distribution, marital status, among others).
Regarding monitoring of gender issues:
  • It is important to monitor and measure how the resources of national investment projects are executed in the context of gender issues.
  • It is necessary to set a connection between gender pay gap information and training and experience factors.
  • It is necessary to include spaces to select gender issues in the SECOP platform and characteristics of companies in order to evaluate the participation of women in govermental public contracts.

Women’s digital right to the city: Open Data Day 2018 in Bologna

- May 2, 2018 in gender, italy, Open Data Day, open data day 2018

This blog has been reposted from the Open Education Italy blog. This blog is part of the event report series on International Open Data Day 2018. On Saturday 3 March, groups from around the world organised over 400 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. 45 events received additional support through the Open Knowledge International mini-grants scheme, funded by Hivos, SPARC, Mapbox, the Hewlett Foundation and the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office. The event in this blog was supported through the mini-grants scheme under the Equal Development theme. The Orlando Association, Open Education Italy and the Digital Agenda Department of the City of Bologna promoted the local Open Data Day in Bologna to raise awareness on the specific informational needs of women in this Italian city. What do a feminist association (active in Bologna since the mid of 70s), Open Education Italy (the newborn Italian branch of the international open education movement) and the civil servants managing and working at the Digital Agenda Department have in common? The easy answer could be: they are all women talking about women with other women. However this time this answer is not the right one. Women and men this time discussed how to find data, how to free data that could be useful but is not open (not yet) and how to use this data to raise awareness about the digital women’s rights to the city. Despite the snow of the beginning of March making a wide participation difficult, the Open Data Day in Bologna was full of ideas, questions and experiments. In the morning researchers, activists and participants discussed about the data and the tools we have and how we can use them. In the afternoon, the workshop was focused on how to treat the data and on the dangerous correlations, the misuse of statistics and about the need of tools and training to monitor through the use of open data activities, work opportunities, gender inequalities in both work conditions and in services delivery and, generally speaking, in power balance among genders. Speakers and participants agreed that is fundamental to continuously raise awareness in the public and the political debate on the specific rights of women. However we all know that awareness drives frustration if you don’t have a voice to recall your right. So the next step of this activities consists in creating empowerment tools and spaces to use the data to obtain actual change in politics and in the city ecosystem. The first result of this activity was reached only four days after the Open Data Day, during the celebration of the International Women’s Day. The City Council of Bologna invited the organisers and participants to present the process and the requests emerged during the discussion at the City Hall. Some of the promoters of the Bologna Open Data Day suspended for a hour their presence at the women’s strike in the central square in front of the City Hall, to enter into the palace to start an open data-driven dialogue with the local decision makers on the women’s digital right to the city. Stay tuned: the Open Day Day could be everyday, as well as the women’s day.  

Open Belgium 2017 in the eyes of a Russian open data enthusiast

- March 29, 2017 in belgium, community, gender, hackathon, network, OK Belgium, transport policy

When you belong to a worldwide community such as the Open Knowledge Network, travelling to other countries means you can meet like-minded people by just knocking on the door of a local branch. That is exactly what I did last year when I lived in Brussels. I signed up as a volunteer for the Open Belgium 2016, a yearly community-driven conference. It turned into an incredible internship for a couple of months. A year later, I am not living in Belgium anymore, but wanted to visit the team and Open Data Day was a perfect excuse. So I sign up as a volunteer again. And what do I see first upon arrival? A whole bunch of new family members.

Open Knowledge Belgium: Meet the next generation

It’s been a few months since Dries Van Ransbeeck took up the torch of the project coordinator role from Pieter-Jan Pauwels, but you can already see the changes. The office has moved from Ghent to Brussels, with new interns commuting daily from various parts of the country. You can already say that Open Knowledge Belgium is taking another dimension. And it’s the new generation of volunteers that made the Open Belgium happen this year. You can check out the volunteers’ hall of fame here. My task as a volunteer for the Open Belgium was to type ‘like a maniac’  and keep a record of all the discussions. Find below my one-blog-summary of the day.

State of Open Data: Low-hanging fruit is gone

The event traditionally kicked off with the overview of the state of Open Knowledge in the country. Delivered by Toon Vanagt, the chairman of the Open Knowledge Belgium and Inge Van Nieuwerburgh, Board Member and coordinator of scholarly communications, it was rather a positive sum-up of the previous community efforts. The laws are in placethe European Directive on the reuse of data was transposed into Belgian Law (NL, FR), providing strict obligation for administrations to make information available for reuse. Open Knowledge Belgium has a recognised role in the process of open data legislation. The basic datasets are open. Data portals are the new black. The task now is to go further to improve data quality, aiming at the 5-star model of Tim Berners-Lee. This will mean building ontologies for linked open data, long but necessary debates about algorithms and ethics, an ongoing search for a revenue model based on open data, and filling new roles in a data field society such as data curator, data stewards and data analyst. That’s a long, but exciting way to go.

Belgian Transport Authorities: we’ve changed

How long till we get the real-time public transport data? That was the hottest question on the panel with Belgian Public Transit Authorities. Sure, it is a big technical, legal and ethical challenge – a lot needs to be done to make this possible. But it’s also important to appreciate having this dialogue today. This has not always been the case. Indeed, only a few years ago SNCB was very protective of its data. In 2010, it sent a letter to Belgian IT student Yeri Tiete who had developed a timetable app, The letter stated: ‘Your website makes reuse of SNCB data. This violates its intellectual property rights, including copyright and database rights. It also makes you guilty of the criminal offence of counterfeiting’ and urged him to cease the app immediately. Tiete and the online community had to find lawyers to fight back. Their legal basis for defending the use of the data was based on a series of linked cases from the European Court of Justice. The Court then ruled that when information in databases is generated as part of the regular activities of a company, then that data is not protected by database rights because the creation of the information has not required ―substantial investment and hence may be used by third parties without them needing to seek permission. In this context, the very presence of Belgian public transport authorities at the Open Belgium conference gets a whole new meaning. Their explicitly expressed commitment to share the data, support open data initiatives and engage developers for co-creation paves the way for innovation and smart use of their data.

Mind the gender gap! 

The event touched upon various initiatives around open data. Representatives from Wikipedia talked about closing the gender gap. When 9 out of 10 registered users on the website are male, the average editor being a 31 years old man with a degree in higher education, you don’t have to be a data analyst to see the possible biases of the content. To close that gap, Wikipedia has several projects running. One of these projects is ‘Women in Red’, which is an initiative of creating links to non-existing pages about prominent women in relation to their works and biographies; therefore calling for action to create these pages. Another is Art + Feminism edit-a-thon which is a series of community-organized events that aim to teach folks how to edit, update, and add articles on Wikipedia.

And other Stories 

Being a journalist myself, I was particularly interested in the session on who should tell the data stories by Maarten Lambrechts. ‘New kids on the block’ as Maarten puts it: are state agencies and statistical offices competing with journalists over the narrative of data. It is increasingly important for media not to outsource the interpretation of data. “How many toilet apps do we need?” – Is a classic sceptical question regarding hackathons. However, Belgium now sees ‘the return of the hackathon’ – the second wave of interest and support for hackathons. They are becoming more inclusive, focused and thematic, organised around a particular topic such as diseases, a problem such as gender equality or a city, such as Gent. ‘We need as many toilet finders as people need’ – is a positive answer for the hackathon organisers. This is my wrap-up for you. Go check the full list of presentations, notes and visual summaries here. At the closing panel, we sketched the next steps: unlocking legislation, working on open licences, creating policies around linked open data. You may have heard it before, right? But these are all parallel paths, and we are moving, step by step.

Women’s Rights Campaigning: Info-Activism Toolkit

- October 15, 2014 in gender, Infoskills, MENA, NGO, presentation, Storytelling, tactical tech, toolkit, violence, women


Tactical Tech

This post was written by Lisa Gutermuth, a project coordinator at Tactical Tech in Berlin. Currently she is working producing the Women’s Rights Campaigning: Info-Activism Toolkit. She has previously focused on land grabbing, crowdmapping, and e-waste for different projects at Tactical Tech and with affiliated organisations. Tactical Tech is an organisation working to advance the skills, tools and techniques of rights advocates, empowering them to use information and communications to help marginalised communities understand and effect progressive social, environmental and political change.
Trying to figure out how to present evidence of violence in a creative way? A campaign by the India-based Blank Noise project offers us an example of how this can be done. In most parts of the world, a widely-used tactic to discredit women victims of violence is to accuse them of ‘asking for it’ by dressing provocatively. Blank Noise started a campaign called ‘I Never Ask For It’, in which women who had experienced street based sexual harassment were asked to send in photos of the garments that they were wearing when they experienced the harassment. Unsurprisingly, the database of photos was mostly comprised of pictures of school uniforms, burqas, traditional salwar kameez, saris, and jeans and so on: nothing provocative about any of this. These images highlight the very personal side of harassment, while simultaneously creating an understanding among women that they are not alone, as well as working toward wider debate about these kinds of events.   foto1tt   This is one of the examples found in the Women’s Rights Campaigning: Info-Activism Toolkit developed by Tactical Tech. The toolkit is created for women’s rights activists, advocates, NGOs and community-based organisations who want to use technology tools and practices in their campaigning. The guide was developed as part of CREA‘s New Voices / New Leaders: Women Building Peace and Reshaping Democracy project, which aims to promote security by combating violence against women and enhancing the civil engagement of women in the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.   foto2   This guide is also a good example of an older project being ‘upcycled’ into something new, updated and relevant to a specific community. The original guides we produced were called Message in-a-Box and Mobiles in-a-Box. CREA, a women’s rights organisation in India, initially approached us to update and customise our toolkits for women’s rights communities. This gave us a chance to think about a structure and format that would work, and respond to the actual context of how specific communities think about campaigning. Each of the categories included in the guide was carefully considered in the development stages of the project, both because there was a focused community for whom it was being created, and because we had regular feedback from our local partner organisations. The next step was translating the guide into Hindi, Bengali, Kiswahili, and Arabic. At Tactical Tech we make an effort to integrate localisation into our materials by providing options and resources for translations, as this enables communities to identify more closely with the contents and to read and use it at a more in-depth level. This is also why having the materials printed (i.e. offline) was such an important part of the project, as the communities that need the entry point to learning about the positive use of digital tools are often those most far away from them. Which brings us to the latest development: the printed toolkits are just off the press! The guide has been printed as a set of four booklets: ‘Basics,’ ‘Grab Attention,’ ‘Tell a Story,’ and ‘Inspire Action,’ representing different strategic themes to use in creating a campaign. The next phase will be distribution – sign up to Tactical Tech’s monthly magazine In the Loop  for updates!   foto3 flattr this!

Data Roundup, 3 December

- December 3, 2013 in aids, australia, bushfire, charts, climate change, course, Data, Data Roundup, gender, inequality, infographics, javascript, Mapping, november, online, Roundup, top 5, Tutorial, tweets, World Bank

A course on online mapping, new visualization software, corruption perceptions data, bushfires in Australia through interactive maps, climate change effects infographics, the top 5 tweets of November in data visualization, a gift list for data lovers.

United Nations Photo – Climate Change Effects in Island Nation of Kiribati

Tools, Events, Courses If you are a wannabe mapper and you need to acquire skills to manage your digital exploration tools you might be interested in registering at the “Online mapping for beginner” course of CartoDB starting on December the 3rd. Hurry up: only few places left! Daniel Smilkov, Deepak Jagdish and César Hidalgo are three MIT students that developed a visualization tool called Immersion. Immersion helps you visualizing your network of e-mail contacts using only “From”, “To”, “Cc” without taking into account any kind of content. JavaScript is one of the most common programming language frequently used to create beautiful visualizations. Follow this tutorial from if you want to learn it bypassing D3.js. Practice makes perfect! Data Stories Yesterday, Transparency International launched it’s annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) ranking countries according to perceived levels of corruption. Have a look at the results and see how your country ranks. Everyone knows what a bar chart is but have you ever heard about trilinear plots? This post from Alberto Cairo introduces a short consideration on new forms of data representations and on when to break conventions in information design. The goal of the Digital Methods Initiative of the Amsterdam University is to map and analyze causes, effects and possible future scenarios deriving from climate change. As part of this project, the students from Density Design Research Lab wrote a wonderful post outlining their visual design take on climate change. Gender inequality is one of those big issues which varies enormously from country to country. If you are wondering what countries have the worst gender gap a look at the map published on the Slate Magazine by Jamie Zimmerman, Nicole Tosh, and Nick McClellan. There are a lot of visualizations you can make from data coming from social networks, especially from those coming from the biggest one: Facebook. Take a minute to see those posted in this curious article from Armin Grossenbacher: “Visualising (not so) Big Data”. In Australia bushfires occur frequently. Look at the amazing interactive story that The Guardian published on their history, showing maps with data on temperatures, hectares of land burnt and number of properties damaged. Not everyone knows that we just passed the World Aids Day on the first of December. Tariq Khokhar reminds us the global situation of the disease in this article from the World Bank Data Blog. Data Sources extracted the list of the 5 most influential tweets of November containing the hashtag #dataviz from a database of about 10.100 posts. Read it here and see who did best. Christimas is getting closer. If you need some good suggestions on what to buy to your friends and parents take a moment to read the FlowingData Gift Guide and you’ll find some interesting data-gifts for your data-lovers. flattr this!