Category Archives: data


Last chance to win a trip to Mexico in our data viz contest: Helpful tips

The deadline for our data viz contest is August 24th
This blog post offers some helpful tips for those interested in submitting a creation to the contest. There will be three winners of the contest and winners will receive a free trip to Guadalajara, Mexico for the OECD 5th World Forum.  

We are in the home stretch of our data viz competition! Don’t panic! If you haven’t started your submission yet, you still have plenty of time to do so.  Even if you have never done data viz before, we strongly encourage you to apply! Don’t let the “data” part intimidate you; all you need is a good imagination and strong communication skills!

The main goal of this contest is for you to use numbers to tell a story about well-being in the world today.  By well-being we mean anything that is important for people to have a happy, fulfilled and productive life.  Well-being is a broad and subjective topic, so we don’t expect you to cover everything.

We suggest picking one or more themes to focus on, as long as they relate to people’s current or future well-being.

  • Examples of these include: education, happiness, health, peace, poverty, work, environment, or freedom.
  • The choice of topics is up to you, as long as you can find reliable statistics to help you tell your story!

Since well-being and sustainability are such broad topics, we understand that it can be hard to know where to start.  We have some suggestions to help you narrow things down and pick your topic.

  • Pick a country or state. Look for different statistics that give a broad picture of people’s lives and well-being.  See example:
Copyright: Landesa

  •  Pick a theme (such as poverty or health) and select statistics that help to give insight into that topic in a country, or across a group of countries.   See, for example, the OECD Better Life Index or the UN Sustainable Development Goals for some inspiration of key topics related to well-being and sustainability.

  • Pick a group to focus on (like children or the elderly) and find statistics that can help you to tell a story about well-being within that group or between different groups (e.g. by gender) Example: 
Copyright: Landesa

As the main goal is to tell a story using statistics and pictures, we suggest producing a static infographic that could view well as a poster or a 1-pager in a newspaper. If you are more experienced, then you can chose to create a more complex visualization requiring more processing of the data and/or technical development, such as an interactive visualisation.


We are in the midst of a statistical revolution

This blog, by Donato Speroni , looks at how two important conferences  sum up ten years of work in this area.  

“We have to find a new narrative that goes beyond the Beyond GDP research” 

This sentence by Enrico Giovannini, in his key note speech at theMoving beyond GDP in European economic governance” expert conference in Brussels on 10 October, summarises the state of the art. We have the well-being indicators, developed at national and international level in the last ten years; we are in the midst of a “statistical revolution” that will give us new instruments to measure progress and compare it between nations; but all this formidable data sets will be of limited use if it is not transferred into new political goals. Yes, but which goals?
In theory, we know what we want: that the economy continues to grow, but that growth should be inclusive (leaving no one behind) and sustainable (without compromising the ability of future generations to have a better future). But is this really possible?
Two visions clashed in the Brussels conference, captured in the strategic moment of the passing of the baton between the old and the new European Commission. The first view, more optimistic, believes in the effective possibility of promoting a sustainable and inclusive growth to ensure the well-being of citizens.
The second, more drastic view, thinks that in Europe the time for growth is over and supports a more rapid and dramatic change in lifestyle and investments. Through this discussion, the search for new statistical parameters has stimulated political debate on the vital issue of the European contribution to a better world.

Provided by the BRAINPOol project
It is clear that “to pursue a sustainable and inclusive growth” or “to change the development model” involve alternative policy priorities, different numerical targets and indicators. For example, if the goal of sustainable growth can be achieved with a gradual change (along with many other interventions) from fossil fuels to renewables, the alternative strategy requires a faster innovation in the pattern of development and results in accelerated efforts to change both the energy mix and the level of energy consumption. Very briefly, on the one hand we have a gradual reformism, on the other hand a revolution; it is clear that these processes cannot be measured with the same parameters, because it is not just a problem of quantity indicators, but also of different goals.

Growth is structurally disappearingfrom the European Union?”

Even if we do not endorse Serge Latouche’s “Happy degrowth” theory, we need to know which results are realistically achievablein the situation we will have to face in the next few years.Tony Long of WWF presentedat the Brussels conference an elaboration on the average growth in France over the past decades, which shows increasingly poor results. In his view, the new European Commissionshould initiate long-term macro-economic analysis, to answer the question: Growth is structurallydisappearing from the European Union?” The relationship between employment and technology is another important question to which we are unable to respond. Co-President of the Club of Rome Anders Wijkman pointed out that up to ten years agoproductivity and employment grew in parallel, but now theproductivity improvements have no longera positive impact on jobs.
For many people, however, “growth is like a religion,” said the BelgianPhilippe Lamberts (Member of European Parliament, Green). “Many people are not willing to accept the facts (for instance about climate change) because they live in their own world“. On the other hand, as pointed out the sameWijkman, even those who are convincedof the need for change are not in a position to express a narrativeof transition: there is no comprehensive proposal on how to move from the existing mechanisms into a system actually more sustainable and inclusive: we have a collection of good intentions but few effective decisions and measurable effects.
The uncertain outcome of this process derives also from the fact that the European economic crisis puts us in uncharted territory, as it become evident in another conference –  the Strategic Forum 2014 on Intragenerational and Intergenerational Sustainability, organised by the International Economic Association (IEA) and the International Statistical Institute (ISI), together with the  “High-Level Expert Group on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress” (that is, the working group hosted by the OECD and commonly called Stiglitz 2″), supported by the Bank of Italy, the Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF)  and SAS, that was held in Rome on September 23 and 24. 

Many of the documents, downloadable from the Forum programme, can help us to understand what is happening in Europe. In a series of very interesting slides, Martine Durand from OECD showed the long-term costs of the recession: even in countries that, on the basis of 2013 data, seemed to have passed the crisis, the conditions of households and the level of investment have not returned to pre-crisis levels. Not to mention the social effects of the lack of confidence in governments and the decrease in the level of satisfaction with life, especially noticeable in the country’s most in need such as Greece and Italy.
From the meeting emerged a stronger concern for sustainability. The social one first, which reflects a situation perhaps even more dangerous than environmental sustainability, for there are many signs that we are heading towards an explosive world (the “perfect storm”). Not only because of the conflicts that already afflict countries in Europe or those geographically close to us, but for the internal contradictions in our economic system: the lack of an adequate safeguard for human capital; the growth of unemployment induced by new technologies that cannot be underestimated and that shrinks the middle class; the frightening increase in inequality in our systems: all issues that go beyond the everlasting controversy about the limits of the public budgets.
It is not even enough to advocate greater investments in schools, because we must first understand what types of schools can prepare young people to find a satisfactory role in this new world, as pointed out by the governor of the Bank of Italy, Ignazio Visco with a short but effective intervention.
In conclusion, I think that the work done by statisticians and economists in these ten years gave us the tools to build a better world, with more inclusive and sustainable well-being for all. But now we need a vision: we have to decide which world we want, to realistically consider the limits of growth, and how we can build it.

Donato Speroni

Do family characteristics affect children’s health?

This blog, written by Wikichild co-ordinator Melinda Deleuze, provides an overview of the latest World Family Map 2014. The report takes a look at family characteristics across the globe to see if they affect children’s health. The post is a part of Wikiprogress‘ Series on Health.

The World Family Map Project measures and monitors global changes in the family. Last month, the World Family Map 2014 was released and it sure has a lot going on! This second annual edition provides 1) updates on the project’s 16 indicators, 2) an essay on union stability and child health in developing countries, as well as 3) a short analysis of psychological distress among 9 to 16 year olds in the European Union (EU). This blog will provide an overview of the report’s three sections, sharing a few of the findings. 

The Countries included in the World Family Map 2014

The Data Updates, part 1

The first section, representing a bulk of the report, offers an inside view of families within 49 countries. The report presents a description of the data trends, showing regional and country differences, as well as colourful tables and maps for almost every indicator. The report pulls data from a multitude of sources: country-level sources; DHS; FAO; Integrated Public Use Microdata Series-International (IPMUS); LIS; OECD; PISA; UNICEF Innocenti Research Center; World Value Surveys. The blending of these surveys produces 16 indicators divided into 4 domains: family structure; family socioeconomics; family processes; family culture.

The “family structure” dimension includes data regarding living arrangements, marriage and cohabitation rates, fertility rates, and non-marital childbearing rates. Living arrangements is separated into 2-parent households, single-parent households, neither-parent households, and households with extended family members.

The “family socioeconomics” dimension includes poverty, undernourishment, parental education level, parental employment rates, and public family benefits. Poverty measures include both absolute and relative child poverty rates.

The “family processes” dimension includes adult satisfaction with family life, disagreement over household work, teen’s discussion with parents, and family meals around the table with 15 year-olds. Teen’s discussion with parents includes communication frequency measures as well as whether the conversation is about how well the 15 year old is doing in school or about non-school related topics.

Finally, the “family culture” dimension includes measures regarding attitudes toward voluntary single motherhood, attitudes about whether children need both a mother and father, amount of support for working mothers, and family trust.

The Essay, part 2

The report also contains an essay which explores the relationship between family instability and children’s health in developing countries. There are 27 countries observed in Central/South America and the Caribbean, Africa, Asia and the Middle East, using data from the Demographic Health Surveys (DHS). Family instability is measured here by divorce or dissolution of a cohabiting partnership, widowhood, or re-partnership (i.e. re-marriage; cohabitation) during the child’s lifetime. The essay looks into 3 child health measures with varying degrees of severity: diarrhea (acute illness); stunting (longer-term); child mortality (most severe outcome). 

Children of Mothers Who Divorced, Dissolved a Cohabiting Union, and/or Re-partnered More Likely to Have Died in Three Out of Four Regions

The essay suggest that family instability compromises parents’ ability to provide the kind of consistent and attentive care that is most likely to foster good health in children. The essay hypothesizes that union instability may affect children’s health due to additional time and attention consumption, more stress, a disruption of social support networks, and reduction of socioeconomic resources available to parents. The results show that in a number of low-income regions divorce or partnership dissolution and re-partnering are associated with increased negative conditions for all three child health measures. The overall findings suggest that union instability is associated with worse child health outcomes; however, the findings are stronger for diarrhea and death than for stunted growth.

The Analysis, part 3

The third and final section of the report contains an analysis of the 2010 EU Kids Online Survey to determine whether there are links between family structure across Europe and children’s psychological health and if there are variations among countries. The survey contains findings for 1,000 children who use the internet aged 9-16 in each of the 25 EU countries observed. Psychological health is defined as emotional symptoms, conduct problems, hyperactivity/inattention, peer relationship problems, and pro-social behaviour (or voluntary behaviour intended to benefit another).

Odds of Elevated Psychological Difficulties in Sole-Parent Families Relative to Two-Parent Families

The results suggest that in the EU as a whole, children’s living arrangements are related to their psychological well-being. Children from more educated households report fewer psychological difficulties, but household socioeconomic status has the opposite effect, with higher status being associated with more difficulties. 
Overall, the World Family Map 2014 brings a good deal of interesting analysis and provides more insight to important questions facing countries all over the world. I am looking forward to see what new understandings next year’s edition brings.

Melinda Deleuze
See Also:
The OECD Family Database
Child Family and Peer Relationships

Why engage citizens in wellbeing data?

This blog by Salema Gulbahar leads up to the Wikiprogress online discussion on engaging citizens in well-being and progress statistics. This post explores why we should engage citizen in well-being data and how this is being done.

Are we measuring the right things?

Are our lives getting better? Data and statistics for measuring well-being and progress should answer these questions and enable us to understand what drives the well-being of people and nations and what needs to be done in order to achieve greater progress for all.

“Give citizens the wellbeing data they need,” says the ‘Policy and Wellbeing report commissioned by the Legatum Institute, as better data on well-being can increase peoples choices and ability to make an informed choice. When young people make a choice about their career path or a job, they know what they can earn and what they have to do. Wouldn’t it be nice if they had data on how that job may impact their well-being?

If citizens, governments, schools and employers had better data on progress and well-being and used this data, then decisions made about which services to fund, cut and develop would be different. For example, governments would focus on the rehabilitation of prisoners and not on long prison sentences.

Enabling and engaging citizens in well-being data will allow society as a whole to make more informed decisions and ensure that we measure what matters!

How can citizens get involved?

Citizen engagement in well-being data can range from citizens being actively engaged in a) politics and policy making where they can influence the agenda and what is measured, b) the feedback loop of services they are using via questionnaires, and c) being active user and producers of information and data via simple mobile applications. Below are a few examples:

The Santa Monica Wellbeing Project (video above) in California is a city-wide initiative which engages its citizen in well-being data, throughout the life cycle of the project by i) defining well-being as it relates to the community, ii) creating a new tool to measure well-being in the community and iii) working with the entire community to actively improve the conditions needed for people to thrive.

In 2013, a ‘friends and family test was introduced by National Health Service in the United Kingdom where patients were asked within 48 hours of using a service if they would ‘recommend this service to friends and family’. Improvements in services can been seen over time and citizens feel more empowered, as well. Results are now available.

Three of my neighbours were burgled over a few days, whilst they slept in their homes. I found out when the third and last victim decided to post a little note on everyone’s door. So when I read about the United Sates and the mobile application which allows law enforcement agencies and citizens to provide real time data on crime, I could see how this tool would make a real difference to my well-being.

Citizen engagement has the potential to drive the demand, supply and use of well-being and progress data and statistics. Governments, employers and schools can enhance the well-being of citizens by providing them with information about the relationship between everyday choices and subjective well-being.

Find out more and ensure your voice is heard by participating in the discussion (details below).

Salema Gulbahar
Wikiprogress Coordinator
Wikiprogress and partners invite you to participate in an online discussion from 22 – 30 April 

  • How can citizen engagement improve the development and use of well-being and progress statistics?
  • Do you have any examples of good practice in citizen engagement in well-being and progress statistics?
  • What role can technology – such as mobile apps or interactive web platforms – play in improving citizen engagement with well-being and progress statistics?

To leave a comment, click here and scroll to the section entitled “Contribute!”

Here is the short link to the page:
Follow the Twitter hashtag#CitizenEngagement and #StatsForAll

You may contact us or send comments via:

Women in Science – Explore the Data for Countries Worldwide

This blog, by UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics (UIS) is about a new tool which presents cross-country data regarding women working in science-oriented careers. The post is part of Wikiprogress and Wikigender‘s contribution to tomorrow’s International Women’s Day.

Just 30% of the world’s researchers are women. While a growing number of women are enrolling in university, many opt out at the highest levels required for a research career. But a closer look at the data reveals some surprising exceptions. For example, in Myanmar and Bolivia, women account for 86% and 63% respectively of scientists, compared to France with a rate of 26% or Ethiopia at 8%.

Women in Science – a new interactive tool – presents the latest available data for countries at all stages of development. Produced by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), the tool lets you explore and visualize gender gaps in the pipeline leading to a research career, from the decision to get a doctorate degree to the fields of research women pursue and the sectors in which they work.

In Sweden, for example, women form the majority (60%) of students enrolled in a Bachelor’s programme, but their numbers decline as they move up the education ladder, accounting for 49% of doctoral students and only 36% of researchers. The data tool reveals this trend across every region, highlighting the conflict that many women face as they try to reconcile career ambitions with family-caring responsibilities.

Women researchers also tend to work in the academic and government sectors, while men dominate the private sector which offers better salaries and opportunities. This is the case even in countries with high shares of women scientists. In Argentina, for example, 52% of researchers are women. However, they account for only 29% of researchers employed in the private sector.

Perhaps most importantly, the data tool shows just how important it is to encourage girls to pursue mathematics and science at a young age. In every region, women researchers remain the minority in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). In the Republic of Korea, for example, only 17% of researchers are women and they account for just 9% of those working in the field of engineering and technology.

By highlighting trends in different regions and countries, this tool provides a unique view on International Women’s Day (8 March). It is particularly useful for those interested in a global perspective on the gender gap in research, especially in the STEM fields. Available in English, French and Spanish, it can be easily embedded on your website, blog or social media sites.

It should be noted that this tool presents internationally comparable data produced by the Institute. This means that the indicators can be accurately compared across countries with very different contexts for women in science. Yet, due to methodological differences, data are missing for countries such as the United States or Canada. In addition, data are also missing for some developing countries that do not have the resources to collect or report R&D data. The Institute seeks to work with all countries to improve the availability of accurate data that can be compared internationally.

This post first appeared on UNESCO’s Science, Technology and Innovation page, here.

See Also:
Women in Science
Women in Science Data Tool
International Women’s Day (article)
OECD celebrates International Women’s Day
Women in Science International League
Women in Bio-Technology






11 ways to rethink open data and make it relevant to the public

This blog is by ICFJ Knight International Journalism Fellow Miguel Paz a Chilean journalist and founder and CEO of Poderopedia, a data journalism website that highlights links among Chile’s business and political elites. This post is part of the Wikiprogress series on Data and Statistics in the lead up to Open Data Day on 22 February. 

It’s time to transform open data from a trendy concept among policy wonks and news nerds into something tangible to everyday life for citizens, businesses and grassroots organisations. Here are some ideas to help us get there:

1. Improve access to data
Craig Hammer from the World Bank has tackled this issue, stating that “Open Data could be the game changer when it comes to eradicating global poverty”, but only if governments make available online data that become actionable intelligence: a launch pad for investigation, analysis, triangulation, and improved decision making at all levels.

2. Create open data for the end user
As Hammer wrote in a blog post for the Harvard Business Review, while the “opening” has generated excitement from development experts, donors, several government champions, and the increasingly mighty geek community, the hard reality is that much of the public has been left behind, or tacked on as an afterthought. Let`s get out of the building and start working for the end user.

3. Show, don’t tell
Regular folks don’t know what “open data” means. Actually, they probably don’t care what we call it and don’t know if they need it. Apple’s Steve Jobs said that a lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them. We need to stop telling them they need it and start showing them why they need it, through actionable user experience.

4. Make it relevant to people’s daily lives, not just to NGOs and policymakers’ priorities
A study of the use of open data and transparency in Chile showed the top 10 uses were for things that affect their lives directly for better or for worse: data on government subsidies and support, legal certificates, information services, paperwork. If the data doesn’t speak to priorities at the household or individual level, we’ve lost the value of both the “opening” of data, and the data itself.

5. Invite the public into the sandbox
We need to give people “better tools to not only consume, but to create and manipulate data,” says my colleague Alvaro Graves, Poderopedia’s semantic web developer and researcher. This is what Code for America does, and it’s also what happened with the advent of Web 2.0, when the availability of better tools, such as blogging platforms, helped people create and share content.

6. Realise that open data are like QR codes
Everyone talks about open data the way they used to talk about QR codes–as something ground breaking. But as with QR Codes, open data only succeeds with the proper context to satisfy the needs of citizens. Context is the most important thing to funnel use and success of open data as a tool for global change.

7. Make open data sexy and pop, like Geeks became popular because they made useful and cool things that could be embraced by end users. Open data geeks need to stick with that program.

8. Help journalists embrace open data
Jorge Lanata, a famous Argentinian journalist who is now being targeted by the Cristina Fernández administration due to his unfolding of government corruption scandals, once said that 50 percent of the success of a story or newspaper is assured if journalists like it.

That’s true of open data as well. If journalists understand its value for the public interest and learn how to use it, so will the public. And if they do, the winds of change will blow. Governments and the private sector will be forced to provide better, more up-to-date and standardised data. Open data will be understood not as a concept but as a public information source as relevant as any other. We need to teach Latin American journalists to be part of this.

9. News nerds can help you put your open data to good use
In order to boost the use of open data by journalists we need news nerds, who can teach colleagues how open data through brings us high-impact storytelling that can change public policies and hold authorities accountable.

News nerds can also help us with “institutionalizing data literacy across societies” as Hammer puts it. ICFJ Knight International Journalism Fellow and digital strategist Justin Arenstein calls these folks “mass mobilizers” of information. Alex Howard “points to these groups because they can help demystify data, to make it understandable by populations and not just statisticians.”

I call them News Ninja Nerds, accelerator task forces that can foster innovations in news, data and transparency in a speedy way, saving governments and organizations time and a lot of money. Projects like ProPublica’s Dollars For Docs are great examples of what can be achieved if you mix FOIA, open data and the will to provide news in the public interest.

10. Rename open data
Part of the reasons people don’t embrace concepts such as open data is because it is part of a lingo that has nothing to do with them. No empathy involved. Let’s start talking about people’s right to know and use the data generated by governments. As Tim O’Reilly puts it: “Government as a Platform for Greatness,” with examples we can relate to, instead of dead .PDF’s and dirty databases.

11. Don’t expect open data to substitute for thinking or reporting
Investigative Reporting can benefit from it. But “but there is no substitute for the kind of street-level digging, personal interviews, and detective work” great journalism projects entailed, says David Kaplan in a great post entitled, Why Open Data is Not Enough. 
“The increasing access to data creates, more than ever, a need to make sense of disparate pieces of information,” said Paul Radu, executive director of the Sarajevo-based Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. “It is the mix of local and global information, the combination of local shoe-leather reporting and leaps across borders through databases, that will make the difference on the long run.”

As Matt Waite, Politifact creator and Drone Journalism Lab director, notes, robots cannot replace humans complexity. They can’t think like we do.

Welcome to the debate.

The post originally appeared on the The International Journalists’ Network’s site, IJNet helps professional, citizen and aspiring journalists find training, improve their skills and make connections. IJNet is produced by the International Center for Journalists in seven languages — Arabic, Chinese, English, Persian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish — with a global team of professional editors. Subscribe to IJNet’s free, weekly newsletter. You can also follow IJNet on Twitter or like IJNet on Facebook.

Global media innovation content related to the projects and partners of the ICFJ Knight International Journalism Fellows on IJNet is supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and edited by Jennifer Dorroh.

Women’s socio-economic empowerment: where are the data gaps?

This blog, written by Wikigender Coordinator Estelle Loiseau, give the highlights of the Wikigender online discussion on “Data Gaps on Gender Equality”, which in its first week focused on the socio-economic empowerment of women.

Wow, this is impressive – 48 comments in the first week of the discussion! This not only shows high interest, but also gives an idea of the importance of the topic. Last week we heard from you on where has progress been made in the area of data on gender equality since the establishment of the MDGs in 2000, as well as where the gaps are and where improvements can be made. So, where do we stand?

We can say that participants agreed that there has been progress, notably in the area of sex-disaggregated and gender-sensitive data (but with important limitations) and also in terms of the quality, analysis and dissemination of gender statistics. However, more efforts are needed in several areas, for example regarding the data collection at country level and in certain specific sectors like agriculture or aquaculture and fisheries. Also, a number of new areas of research and priority areas were brought to the fore. Let’s take a look in detail…

Data issues mentioned

  • Comparability of data at EU level, within OECD countries and beyond, within and across regions
  • Common standards, harmonised data and definitions
  • Coverage in terms of countries, type of policy and time trends (e.g. for indicators on policies that promote women’s socio-economic empowerment)
  • Lack of continuity between surveys 
  • Data gaps in access to finance and land, and data gaps in agriculture, among others
  • Capacity building of National Statistics Offices
  • Many surveys are not gender-sensitive, e.g. in agriculture
  • Data demand/use needs to be enhanced

“When it comes to data on entrepreneurship, it seems that data collection is greatly impaired by problems of definitions. There are no agreed definitions of what ‘entrepreneurship’ means, although it is regarded as a driver for social inclusion, empowerment and growth.”                                                                                                  – Anne Laure Humbert

    New areas of research and suggestions

    • Time-use: to better understand women’s participation in the labour market and the balance of family and work responsibilities
    • Unpaid work: to make sure that women’s contribution in the area of care is accounted for in the economic measures
    • Social norms: to better understand the power imbalances at household level, which have an impact on women’s empowerment at society level
    • Fiscal policy: to better recognise women’s contribution to the economy, one could disaggregate taxpayers’ data by sex
    • Technology: to develop a measurement framework to evaluate empowerment within technology initiatives where women are central players (e.g. in sectors such as clean cooking)

    “ECLAC (…) has been key in moving forward with time use surveys and in that sense achieving comparability inasmuch as possible. This is creating the possibility to use these surveys to construct satellite accounts that can serve for policy design, but also micro simulation and other uses.”                                                                                 – Elizabeth Villagomez

    Priority areas

    • Earning gaps, including from self employment
    • Unpaid work
    • Informal work, especially with a focus on poor women
    • Systematic inclusion of age and sex in data collection, including old age
    “We need more countries to collect data on informal employment (…), including on specific categories of informal workers such as domestic workers, home-based workers, street vendors and waste pickers and we need data on the earnings of the self employed.”                                                                                                                     – Joann Vanek, WIEGO
    To improve data quality, availability and coverage, participants emphasised: South-South cooperation and support from donors and international agencies; more political will for gender equality (e.g. Africa); strong advocacy for new research areas and priority areas; continued capacity building at country level; systematic inclusion of data at country level in global reports; national action plans; and more.

    Many examples of initiatives and programmes were mentioned, including: PARIS21’s data revolution; HBSC’s data collection work on the health and well-being of adolescents; a measurement framework for monitoring equality and human rights in Great Britain by the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission; the OECD Gender Data Portal; Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index; and many more! 

    The discussion during week 1 was particularly rich and interactive. This summary does not provide a full picture of the various mini-discussions which took place at several levels on some of the above-mentioned areas. Click here to read the full thread of comments and engage further!

    This second week (3-9 February), we turn the focus on data gaps in the area of violence against women. See the questions asked for week 2 and join in the conversation!

    *The discussion is brought to you by Wikigender, the UN FoundationHealth Behaviour in School-Aged Children (HBSC), the EU-LAC FoundationEuropean Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), ECLAC and PARIS21 – and in collaboration with Wikiprogress and Wikichild.

    Online Discussion: Data Gaps on Gender Equality

    Wikigender is running a new online discussion in partnership with the UN Foundation, Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children (HBSC), the EU-LAC Foundation, European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), ECLAC and PARIS21 – while collaborating with Wikiprogress and Wikichild regarding:
    Data Gaps on Gender Equality
    Open from 27 January-14 February
    We would like to engage participants in a discussion about where the data gaps exist concerning gender equality. With this discussion, we hope to pioneer initiatives that generate new data and new methodological approaches and to examine complex areas of gender equality, including unpaid care, time use and social norms. The discussion will also address the “data revolution” and gender statistics, lessons learned since the adoption of the MDGs in 2000, and proposals for priority targets for the post-2015 development agenda.
    Each week of the discussion, there will be a different theme open for comments and dialogue:
    Week 1: The socio-economic empowerment of women
    Week 2: Violence against women
    Week 3: Civic and political participation of women
    The outcomes and main findings of the discussion will be summarised in a final report and presented at a side event at the 58th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women held in New York in March 2014. The side event will be organised by the OECD Development Centre, Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and the UK Department for International Development (DFID).

    We invite you to find out more about the online discussion and questions for each theme by clicking here:

    You may begin participating in the discussion on 27 January, 2014. To post a comment, simply go to the “Contribute!” section of the discussion page. We count on your participation and hope that you will disseminate this information widely to your contacts! Feel free to use the following links to send an invitation to your contacts in Spanish or French also. On Twitter, we use the hashtags #gender and #datagaps
    See you very soon on to discuss this issue!
    Estelle Loiseau
    Wikigender Co-ordinator

    Opening the Black Box of Governance: Alleviating Poverty With Data

    This ProgBlog, by Rayna St  of Global Voices is part of the Global Forum on Development 2013, that took place  on 4 and 5 April 2013 at the OECD in Paris. The blog discusses how new and innovative forms of data collection can be used to alleviate poverty. 

    The constant rise of Internet and mobile phone use is an opportunity to enable more citizens to engage with governance. Technology can help improve citizen participation in decision-making and can re-energise participation in public life. Transparency and accountability is becoming a diverse and dynamic field for exploration worldwide. Opening the data produced by public administrations is part of an effective approach to poverty alleviation. Incredible amounts of data are produced every day, by a wide range of stakeholders: governments, media, mobile operators, citizens themselves. Despite the huge potential for using data about a society or government for the public good, it is rarely released and shared for public use. Additionally, reliable statistics can be hard to come by or are still the exclusive property of government or corporate officials.

    The benefits of citizen engagement are numerous, wide-ranging and significant for all stakeholders, as Striking Poverty, a World Bank initiative, illustrates:

    “For the marginalized poor, participation mechanisms can provide channels for shaping solutions and holding governments accountable for policies and services delivered. For organizations, governments, and funders, engagement with communities is beneficial in that citizens will support, adopt, champion, and eventually share in the ownership and success of programs.”

    Does Open Data work in developing countries?
    Open Data endeavours in both rich and poor countries often come up against a shortage of technical and political skills that prevent citizens from actively engaging with them. There can easily be a gap between the goals of data advocates and citizens’ understanding of the data. Still, a huge number of creative approaches to collect and make sense of data related to public life show promise that this is the most straightforward way into civic engagement. The Kenya Open Data Initiative (KODI), the first national Open Data project in Sub-Saharan Africa, was launched in 2011. The released data sets (over 400) provide data for socially-relevant domains from education to sanitation. Kenya is in fact the first developing country to have an Open Data portal. In greater Africa, Morocco was first to launch anOpen Data platform. Tunisia followed in 2011 with Open Data Tunisia. Seizing the potential of Open Data for developing countries and the growing number of national ventures, the African Development Bank (AfDB) has launched the Open Data for Africa portal, as a part of the Africa Information Highway initiative.

    It encompasses Open Data platforms for the following 20 African countries: Algeria, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Malawi, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda, Republic of Congo, Senegal, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Although the challenges are numerous, multiple success stories show that the key to using technology for transparency and accountability efforts is to employ a collaborative approach and ensure that tools are user-friendly and quick to offer results. A report by the Global Voices ‘Technology for Transparency’ initiative looking at citizen initiatives for transparency and accountability across the globe found that: Data visualization and navigation tools are a key feature in more than half of the projects we documented, as are diverse forms of data collection from citizens. Approximately one third of the projects use mobile phones in some way, most commonly by allowing citizens to submit or receive information via text messages. These observations illustrate that citizen initiatives are not only directed towards gathering data but also towards making sense of it for the wider community. The projects show great opportunity for well-managed data and related statistics released through open government data programs. The next milestone for governments in developing countries is to solve the problems of data quality and availability, as well as the technical and statistical capacity of staff and institutions.

    Opening the governance
    The Open Government Partnership (OGP) was launched back in September 2011 when the governments of Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, Philippines, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States took stance in favour of more transparent governance by signing the Open Government Declaration: The Open Government Partnership is a global effort to make governments better. We all want more transparent, effective and accountable governments — with institutions that empower citizens and are responsive to their aspirations. But this work is never easy. It takes political leadership. It takes technical knowledge. It takes sustained effort and investment. It takes collaboration between governments and civil society. Shortly after, the World Bank recognized the importance of the foundational principles of the Partnership and declared its support to the initiative “by facilitating knowledge exchanges and helping to build the capacity of OGP member countries to elaborate and implement their plans to become more open and responsive.” The OGP already has 50 members. Although several African countries have presented their action plans and three of them — South Africa, Tanzania, and Kenya — have already delivered their commitments, Africa is still trailing in involvement. The most recent OGP Africa meeting indicates that slow progress is being made, with Ghana and Liberia developing their respective ‘Action Plans’ in order to apply for membership at the Open Government Partnership.

    New approaches, new challenges ahead
    Is technology the panacea for developing countries? Definitely not. But it definitely paves the way for addressing open, socially and politically relevant questions. Even though the Kenya’s ODI has not had much impact on Kenyans, and very few African states rush to join the OGP, these dynamics are irreversible. The very existence of the endeavours described above is a solid step in the right direction.

    UN-led meetings on the development agenda that will follow the Millennium Development Goals are recommending a focus on eliminating poverty, reducing inequalities, and addressing the needs of poor people – based on their perspectives. At the same time, they are stressing the need to stimulate economic growth and better manage the environment.  Above all, there is a sense that one can not afford to focus on one goal without addressing the others.  

    Watch the video broadcast of the 2013 Global Forum on Development, here.

    You can still follow discussions at #OECDgfd and on the WikiprogressWikigenderand Wikichild twitter feeds.