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We Can’t Co-Create Without Women

Jacqueline McGraw|

One of four sisters, I have had the great privilege to grow up in a family of impressive women—an experience that has made me certain of two things. First, tapping into the limitless potential of women is beneficial to society as a whole. Second, issues that affect the day-to-day lives of women are largely overlooked when we speak of “man’s” (referring to both men and/or humankind) problems.

My mother, armed as she is with all of the rights afforded by her United State citizenship, shared many of the same concerns as women all over the world when she took on the momentous task of raising four girls. Like mothers everywhere, she was doubly concerned about basic public services and information regarding healthcare, education, day care, and security, because she understood that such services and information could mean a brighter future for both herself and her children. And while the core OGP values of openness and accountability encompass women in theory, I think a gendered lens is critical to actually improving women’s lives and achieving the overarching goal of co-creating a platform that “empowers and delivers for citizens, and advances the ideals of open and participatory 21st century government.”

Throughout Global Co-Creation Week, the World Wide Web Foundation used the #OGPcocreation and #myNAPask hashtags to highlight the need for more women- and gender-centric commitments in OGP action plans. Of nearly 3,000 OGP commitments, fewer than a dozen commitments in current action plans focus on issues specific to women and gender (see the table below).

The Web Foundation tweeted out a list of recommendations to give gender a more prominent place in the OGP agenda. Covering actions to be taken by both the OGP Support Unit and OGP countries, the suggestions ranged from appointing a gender point person for each of the seven working groups, to consulting women’s groups for commitment ideas and implementation, and using innovative methods/technology to provide women greater access to information.

To further emphasize the need for OGP initiatives created by and for women, the Web Foundation tweeted out a number of country report cards measuring gender gaps in information and communications technologies (ICTs) and offering improvement plans adapted to each country’s context. With more OGP commitments devoted to open data and digital services, recognizing gender inequality related to ICTs is essential for creating OGP commitments that result in positive changes for the greatest number of citizens, women not excluded. Below are a few of my favorite improvements proposed in the six OGP countries of the ten assessed:

  • Colombia: “Establish training programmes focused on the needs of all Colombian women, aiming to foster access and use of the Internet as a tool for the full enjoyment of women’s rights and empowerment.”
  • Ghana: “Existing policies should be revised to address online violence against women (VAW), and awareness campaigns should be mounted to publicise the legal processes available for seeking redress. The Ghana Police Service and the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) must be trained and equipped with all resources (technical, human, financial) to fight all forms of digitally enabled violence against women.”
  • Indonesia: “Set concrete targets for gender equity in ICT access, with adequate budget for programmes. These targets should also be monitored with timely data collection. Indonesia is already one of the few countries to collect basic gender-disaggregated data on Internet use and should now expand this effort into other key ICT indicators.”
  • Kenya: Because the women in the study reported that prepaid data prices are “‘unrealistic’ and prevent them getting online, the Kenyan government must “work with mobile operators and Internet Service Providers to lower tariffs. Free public Wi-Fi initiatives should be scaled and offered in all public places including schools.”
  • Nigeria: “Government must prioritise wide online availability of local language information about women’s health, rights and services that empower women.”
  • Philippines: “All government websites should be audited to assess the relevance of their content for women, and their effectiveness in supporting women to access information. Women should be consulted on what they require from government websites.”

I want nothing more than OGP to work for both the women in my family who continue to inspire me and for all of the incredible women spread across the globe whom I have yet to meet. As underscored by the Web Foundation, we first need more women at the proverbial OGP table to co-create action plans that reflect their realities. I, for one, am convinced that the goals of open government and female empowerment are stronger together.


Existing OGP Commitments* Addressing Gender Issues (tagged under “Gender & Sexuality” in the IRM Explorer)




Commitment No. and Description




Commitment 10: trainings for increased social inclusion, particularly for women and some other marginalized groups


Commitment 18: participatory evaluation of the Public Policy on Gender Equality, System of violence against women, sexual and intra-family violence (SIVIGILA) will be updated to include changes made in 2014


Commitment 19: LGBTQ legislation ensuring equal rights and non-discrimination to be drafted with input from relevant stakeholders and representatives of the LGBTQ community

El Salvador



Commitment 16:Creating a multi stakeholder entity to address the systemic issues that affect women and youth, enhance access to information and citizen participation so as to achieve stronger links between the government, civil society, academia, private sector and others for identifying and implementing comprehensive solutions.

Ivory Coast



Commitment 14: Aims to engage local communities from 5 different communes in the budgeting development and implementation process (participatory budgeting). Under this commitment umbrella are two sub-commitments specifically seeking to encourage women’s groups from the 5 target communes to get involved in participatory budgeting and bolster discussion and consultation mechanisms around “gender planning.”




Commitment 1: Increasing women’s participation in public service by focusing on more family-friendly and work-life balance initiatives (teleworking, reduced hours, job sharing, compressed working week and flexible work schedules).




Encourage co-responsibility with regard to family, community, the economy and government to achieve gender equality via policy, infrastructure and social services

Sierra Leone



Commitment 1: “The SLP will publish data on sexual violence against women and girls, establish a  forensic lab with trained and qualified personnel, develop a directory for  all sexual violence convicts,  and provide free health services for women affected by sexual violence in collaboration with the Ministry of Health.”

Sri Lanka



The first commitment involves acting upon observations reported at the last Convention on Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), namely addressing issues of gender inequality in state land distribution and in both formal and informal employment.  

The second commitment aims at increasing the number of women participating in Sri Lankan politics by enforcing the amended Local Government law, which, as of 2016, includes a 25% quota for women.




“Follow-up to the recommendations of the UN Committee for the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women.”


*Commitments introduced in current NAP cycles (2015-2017 and 2016-2018)


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