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Towards More Inclusive Policy Creation: How Buenos Aires Engaged the LGBTQIA+ Community

Hacia un diseño de políticas más incluyente: Cómo Buenos Aires involucró a la comunidad LGBTQIA+

Javier IrigarayandTamara Laznik|

In the past, the City of Buenos Aires had very few opportunities to work on public policies concerning the LGBTQIA+ community from an open government perspective. Through an OGP commitment, my team, the Undersecretariat for Open Government and Accountability, is working to increase their participation and improve the open data about different subjects that impact diversity to improve policy design and influence public policies.

The core of this commitment is to achieve a participatory process with more diverse actors, including the LGBTQIA+ community. With that aim, we conducted workshops with LGBTQIA+-focused and civil society organizations to improve our understanding about which information is important to be published and the obstacles that prevent these communities from participating and communicating with the government. Then, under the commitment, we will run two workshops to identify obstacles in the access to rights for the community. Finally, we will share the information from this process back with the community and policymakers.

Setting Our Goals

When we started to think about our third open government action plan, we had two clear goals in mind. First, to open the process to new civil society partners, so as to make the plan more inclusive. Then to make commitments with more impact on the society and, in particular, on vulnerable populations.

In the last years, Buenos Aires had the opportunity to improve a lot in open government and open data agendas. During the first steps, we implemented open government policies around access to information, open data websites, and the creation of the Open State Forum. This provided the basis and the institutional culture to incorporate principles of open government in different thematic areas such as gender, climate change, transportation, education, and housing.

For this action plan we had the opportunity to improve our vision and co-create commitments with more direct impact on people’s lives. We also received proposals from partners of commitments regarding gender and diversity, which inspired the specific topic areas for the commitment design on LGBTQIA+ data.

Creating an Inclusive Co-Creation Environment

The first step on the co-creation process was sharing an online form to propose ideas for the commitments. Thanks to it, we received some ideas concerning open data of gender and diversity. One idea was to unify criteria and to incorporate new diversity indicators in the surveys and statistics from the City of Buenos Aires, so there could be more information about it.

So we had meetings with the General Direction of Coexistence in Diversity, the General Direction of Statistics and Censuses and the Secretariat for Gender Equality, to discuss the viability and the challenges about this idea. During this stage, we started to think about how to improve the mechanism of collecting information and publish all the information available so that it was open to the public.

Then, with these ideas in mind, we organized co-creation meetings with civil society partners. 

With an innovation methodology, we discussed how to define the commitment, and a lot of new ideas emerged. The civil society organizations emphasized the importance of incorporating access to rights perspective to the commitment. So, with the ideas of the government areas and the ideas of civil society we co-designed the “Opening of data on access to rights of the LGBTQ community” commitment.

The co-creation process was open to all. We also asked our civil society partners to convocate and identify priorities from their communities, so we could have more representative engagement. Because of this public invitation, fortunately, a lot of new civil society organizations and representatives from the LGBTQIA+ community participated during the co-creation meeting.

Time for Action

From that process, we incorporated our usual civil society partners and a lot of new actors from the community into the first activity of the implementation of the commitment.

In May we organized, alongside with the General Direction of Coexistence in Diversity, the first workshop to kick off the commitment with the civil society partners. We discussed concerns about the need for more information about access to health, education, security, housing, and systematized information.

During the meeting, the General Direction of Coexistence in Diversity presented their work on rights protection and promotion of rights and visibility, and the General Direction of Urban Anthropology presented the Urban Quality Index, with a Gender Perspective that was recently published. This inspired a discussion on the importance of including differing perspectives to think and design the public space.

Lessons Learned

This process allowed us to incorporate new and important learnings. First, we confirmed the importance of coordinating between different government areas involved in the agenda, engaging the General Direction of Coexistence in Diversity, and involving experts from different areas such as statistics, gender, health, and education. This is a key aspect in all of open gov policies, but it applies particularly in transversal agendas, such as diversity.

Secondly, we learned that it is very important to improve the communication channels in order to form a network between all of the participants. This allowed us to incorporate the actors to whom the policy is destined (in this case the LGBTQIA+) into the design and implementation of the commitment. 

We are used to working with civil society partners from the open government, transparency and institutional quality community. Although their perspective is important, it is important too to incorporate the involved community to ensure the commitments address their needs and priorities from the beginning.

Finally, the most important element about our experience is that we were able to ratify the importance of the knowledge generated by civil society organizations, and that it is important to incorporate it into our work. For example, some organizations presented reports with new data concerning LGTBQIA+, and we generated a shared folder that not only grants free access to this information, but also allows everyone interested to share any other information about the subject.

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