Exploring civil society data and citizen-generated data on gender issues in Nepal

"Advocacy for women's rights has always been based on stories and anecdotes, but now with data women can say 'we count' and inform the world 'how we count'. Citizen-generate data is a power of democracy", said Wenny Kusuma, UN Women Country Representative to Nepal.

This statement by Kusuma opened the Gender Thematic Forum hosted in Kathmandu on 9 November by DataShift together with Tewa, Nepal NGO Federation and Beyond Beijing Committee Nepal. The forum brought together a range of actors within Nepal working on gender issues, to explore what data is currently available on this topic from civil society, citizen-generated data projects and official data sources. By looking in particular at the coverage, quality and comparability of these data sources in Nepal, the event aimed to identify opportunities and challenges for using civil society and citizen-generated data in particular to support the monitoring of progress against SDG 5 which aims to “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”. 

There are a number of official sources of data in Nepal, including the census, the vital events registration system, government surveys such as the Nepal Living Standard Survey and Annual Household Survey, administrative records from various government management information systems. However, while data is often disaggregated by gender participants at the event reported that there is not enough official data on specific issues faced by women, such as domestic violence, and the current data does not allow a life-cycle analysis of the issues faced by women and girls. This makes it difficult for non-state actors to usefully use data in when planning and implementing their development programmes.

This is where civil society data and citizen-generated data (CDG) on gender issues could play an important complementary role to official sources of data. CGD is generated in a number of ways, including surveys, mobile phone applications, SMS, emails, reports, storytelling, sensors, and social media. According to DataShift it can be both quantitative and qualitative and comes in a number of formats, ranging from numerical data – accessed in mediums such as spreadsheets – to text, audio, or photos. In addition to supporting the planning and implementation of development programmes, CGD could help to address some of the data gaps preventing detailed monitoring of the SDGs. For example, there is no baseline data available on several of the SDG 5 indicators. Many SDG targets and indicators have not yet been fully localized at the national level, let alone the sub-national level. CGD, if generated accurately and representatively, could potentially help to fill this gap. For this to happen the data generated by civil society would need to be recognized by government as a reliable source of data, which would likely require the development of common methodologies to ensure consistency between sources. Resources for data collection in Nepal and if well coordinated and shared as open data the recognition of CGD by government could avoid data duplication.

Kusuma’s speech underscored the need for gender advocacy, programmes, laws and policies to be backed up by hard data to ensure that no women and girls are left behind in the 2030 agenda for sustainable development.  Participants in the room echoed the sentiment that data can empower women to inform development decisions and the design of policies to secure equal rights for women.

Some glimpses from the event: 

Photo Credit: Beyong Beijing Committee Nepal

Photo Credit: Beyong Beijing Committee Nepal

If you would like to view more pictures from the event please check their facebook page here.