Open Government and Inclusion: The Road to Equality and Non-Discrimination

Today, we must consolidate the Open Government Partnership (OGP) as an effective platform to close the economic and opportunity gap. This is one of the main challenges that contemporary democracies are facing, especially in Latin America, the world’s most unequal region. This year, 41 members of OGP, including eight Latin American countries (Brazil, Chile, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Uruguay) are due to submit new action plans. This opens up an opportunity to put inequality at the center.

Mexico can set a good example. Today, women surpass men by 3.4 million, yet society remains dominated by men; over 7 million people self-identify as indigenous, yet we live in a deeply racist society; there is a similar number of people with disabilities, yet the country lacks the conditions to enable their inclusion. These facts must be present when designing new commitments, which should aim to create the necessary conditions for all to be able to develop fully and build a future for themselves.

2019 can be a milestone for OGP if countries developing new action plans work toward making commitments close the gender gap and secure access to health and education services. Today, only 12% of commitments included in 190 action plans have been recognized as effective in meeting these goals.

Back to Mexico, our most recent national action plan included commitments to address such issues, but government spying on journalists and human right activists prevented the plan from being adequately implemented. The National Institute for Transparency, Access to Information and Personal Data Protection (INAI in Spanish) opened up an investigation to safeguard the personal data of the affected individuals.

The action plan, however, was successful in incorporating the inclusion agenda into local open government commitments. INAI worked to advance this and other issues by developing the Guide for Commitment Co-creation II: Diversity of Opinions for Solving Public Issues in an effort to raise awareness about the importance of creating spaces for dialogue and collaboration, as well as offer methodological tools for the creation of inclusive open government commitments, with respect for all.

In 2015, INAI designed and advanced the Open Government Initiative: Local Co-Creation and the National Transparency System. As a result, 27 of 32 state governments developed open government mechanisms. This allowed for the establishment of 18 productive dialogue forums and 12 action plans that include over 70 commitments that are now solving concrete issues. Some commitments that aim to strengthen inclusion are the development and application of an integrated program to reduce violence in 30 public schools of the state of Durango, actions to prevent teen pregnancy in the state of Tlaxcala, policies to close the salary gender gap in the state of Jalisco, and a platform to help locate parking spaces for people with disabilities in Oaxaca.

These efforts, guided and documented by INAI, are available in this website, which hosts communication materials, action plans, international examples and other useful materials to help governments open up to their citizens. The website was developed with an inclusive language, gender perspective and technology to help people with some disabilities have access to it.

These initiatives led by INAI seek to leverage open government to advance inclusion, equality and non-discrimination, and secure universal rights for all. The Global Summit that will take place in Ottawa on May 29-31, which is precisely focused on inclusion, participation and impact, is a key opportunity to deepen this dialogue. This year, action plans are due on August 31, so the Ottawa Summit will be a good opportunity to share the progress made in the consultation and co-creation processes and ensure the integration of priority issues to solve inequality. In the process, OGP can become a high-impact platform that shows the value of democracies as regimes that promote inclusion, in the face of the many authoritarian regimes we are seeing across the world.