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Faces of Open Government: Silvana Fumega

Rostros de Gobierno Abierto: Silvana Fumega

Silvana Fumega|

Silvana Fumega is the Research and Policy Director of the Latin American Initiative for Open Data (ILDA).


We’re kicking off the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, an important moment for women and gender advocates working to promote safer communities around the world. How can OGP be used as a platform to advance these efforts?

Gender-violence is rooted in underlying inequality conditions and is therefore beyond the reach of OGP processes. However, as stated in the previous question, OGP could contribute to making a difference at various levels, including key elements in its co-creation processes to include the voices of people who are currently not being heard and that of the groups working with them to address this issue. More broadly, these processes can be focused on changing the way that violence-related data are collected and published to promote their understanding and identify better solutions. 


Gender-based violence is a major problem in Latin America and other regions around the world. Several OGP members, like Uruguay and Afghanistan, are using their action plans to start tackling these issues through access to justice and open data. What are some commitments you’re excited to see progress? What commitments would you like to see members make?

The Feminist Open Government Agenda is in its early stages, therefore a small number of commitments have been created, as compared to other thematic areas. But there are some noteworthy commitments, like the case of Uruguay. 

Uruguay hosted one of the most important workshops with regards to “Regional standardization of femicides” (first, with support from IDRC and Fundación Avina and currently from the IDB). On June 27, 2018, at the invitation of Agesic, we co-hosted a workshop on femicide data, together with the Open Government Working Group. This workshop was part of the co-creation of Uruguay’s fourth action plan 

An outcome of the workshop was the inclusion of the topic in the fourth action plan in commitment 2.1 “Observatory on gender-based women”, which includes a very exciting component: among other actions, the commitment aims to unify criteria and categorize, measure and publish data on femicides. (To learn more, see this interview with Virginia Pardo from Agesic and Nathyeliy Acuña held during the 2019 OGP Global Summit – in Spanish and this post in English). 

More than highlighting these commitments, we need to broaden the universe and apply innovative ideas to develop more inclusive action plans. We need to keep working hard to make this happen. 


As part of the Feminist Open Government Initiative and your work with Latin American Open Data Initiative (ILDA), you coordinated a research project looking at women’s involvement in the OGP process in Mexico, Costa Rica, and Uruguay. Based on the research findings, what are your key recommendations for OGP members who are hoping to make their co-creation processes more inclusive? 

The Latin American Open Data Initiative (ILDA in Spanish), where I work as director of research and policy, led a project in 2018 aimed at assessing, through qualitative tools and research strategies, women’s participation (or lack thereof) in Open Government Partnership (OGP) processes in three Latin American countries: Mexico, Costa Rica and Uruguay. The research focused on understanding the limitations and challenges that women and women groups face in terms of participation in government processes, access to information and data, inclusion and use of technology. 

Following our research and review of the main challenges regarding the development of OGP action plans, we propose the following recommendations:  

1) One key challenge that cuts across all aspects of co-creation is the gap between important cities (often capital cities), and smaller cities and rural areas. Although efforts have been made to decentralize the co-creation process, it is still largely centered on capital cities and urban areas. 

In many countries, it has been challenging for women to occupy leadership positions in co-creation processes that take place outside of the capital city. We need to strengthen not only OGP mechanisms to be more inclusive, but also work on promoting women’s inclusion in the public sphere more broadly. Technology penetration is also affected by the urban-rural gap. Because technology is a key element that supports the implementation and communication of OGP processes, it is important that everyone has access and the necessary skills to use it.  

2) There is also a clear split between work fields, from traditional groups that focus on access to information and accountability to those who work on technological tools, as well as a gap between groups that are trained in these topics and those who work with grassroots organizations. Open government is a highly technical field that demands knowledge, limiting the participation of women groups, who often face more pressing matters and for whom open government concepts are not directly relevant. It is therefore necessary to create mechanisms that not just include such groups in the co-creation processes – which are largely led by national organizations or groups focused on open government – but also ensure the availability of materials and staff (from finance to capacity building) to ensure that grassroots organizations are able to participate. 

In terms of individual participation, it is important to promote policies regarding “care”. When we broaden the spaces, compensations and other mechanisms, we are improving the participation of women, because “care” is socially perceived as women’s work. 

3) More specifically, in terms of data openness, there is a gap in terms of gender-disaggregated data (sometimes these data are not even disaggregated in binary terms). Because data are the raw materials needed to make decisions and create tools to promote equality and inclusion of women and women groups in the public sphere and more specifically the open government agenda, it is important that data sheds light on the groups that are marginalized.

Therefore, gender-disaggregated data (not just binarily) is a key element in understanding how different policies affect specific groups. Without disaggregation, we will continue to marginalize many groups and ignore their positions.  

4) Lastly, with regards to the Independent Review Mechanism (IRM) researchers, and despite not being a clear limitation to participation, it is a key element to understand processes globally: adequate IRM mechanisms to assess how sensitive OGP processes can be. Because this issue extends beyond our research, OGP needs to develop metrics to verify progress and setbacks made on the feminist approach at the global level. 

 As several interviewees pointed out, OGP should establish parameters to assess this agenda. There are currently no clear mechanisms to verify and assess the inclusion of women and women groups in OGP processes and commitments. 

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