In recent months, DataShift activities has involved convening a series of national dialogues on the state of gender data in each of the DataShift pilot countries (Kenya, Argentina, Nepal and Tanzania), with a view to identifying the challenges and opportunities around using citizen-generated data as part of an integrated, multi-stakeholder approach to facilitating engagement, spurring action, and monitoring progress on SDG 5. In order to share and build upon the diverse experiences and ideas that emerged from the national dialogues, DataShift convened a Global Gender Thematic Forum in December 2016, bringing together a small group of gender data practitioners from these countries, along with a number of other international experts, working on issues from digital literacy, to statistics, to the empowerment of women, to ‘mutually reinforcing’ global advocacy activities. The event sought to take an in-depth look at the possibilities and barriers for improving the coherence of civil society data and CGD on gender, exploring in particular issues of credibility via topics such as methodological rigour and responsible data use, with a view to identifying practical steps to overcoming such challenges. In the report, “Exploring the Global Coverage, Credibility and Complementarity of Civil Society Data and Citizen-Generated Data on Gender Issues“, we identify the challenges and opportunities around using CGD as part of an integrated, multi-stakeholder approach to spurring action and monitoring progress on SDG 5.
An alarming figure rocks Argentina: one woman dies every 30 hours due to gender-based violence. This is the harsh reality that has been present in our society for a long time, but hidden from view. Unfortunately, no detailed country-wide data exists; for either femicide (a women’s murder due to her gender condition), or any other type of violence; including symbolic and psychological violence which women are subjected to on a daily basis.
“Macho violence” is a fact in Argentina. Recently, Argentinian non-governmental organisation (NGO), La Casa del Encuentro, carried out a survey on the femicide index at the national level, these were however only based on what the media has reported.
This was a problem, not only because there are many others not reported, but also because physical violence is not the only kind; it is the last step in a long chain of silences. Invisible kinds of violence are the most dangerous – these are the ones that women suffer without any questioning because they have become naturalised, i.e. street harassment, inequalities in the work environment and images portrayed by the media, for example, as passive individuals devoted to domestic tasks. Thousands of stories of suffering such as these have not been registered anywhere, as there is no national statistics on the subject.
In 2015, in response, journalists, activists and artists started mobilising around the hashtag #NiUnaMenos (“NotOneLess”), calling for concrete actions to eradicate gender violence and inequality. A diverse cross-section of society adopted this movement and on 3 June 2015, a rally was held at Plaza Congreso.
It has been a long campaign which has used a range of actions. On 3 June 2016, one year since the first rally, the group doubled down on their efforts by revealing the environment endured by women through a nationwide citizen index of reliable data. With the movement continuing to grow a further two massive demonstrations under the theme #NiUnaMenos and #VivasNosQueremos was organised and a survey was launched.
The aim of the survey was to generate national statistics on “macho violence” (this term was used to differentiate between victims and offenders) and to visualise this daily problem. The Primer Índice Nacional de la Violencia Machista (First National Index of “Macho” Gender Violence) was established for citizens to collect information on gender-based violence in Argentina. Between 3 June and 3 September 2016, a detailed 186 question survey was made available to women and transgender women across the country.
Within the three month period, over 60,000 responses from women all over the country was collected. On 25 November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) #NiUnaMenos presented the results.
The results were shocking; over 97% of the women who completed the survey have suffered some kind of gender violence, but only 5% had reported it to the police. Over 20% said they were violated. The survey helped those who answered realise that their rights are being violated. It also attempted to attract authorities and civil society’s attention to the fact that this is a problem which requires an urgent solution.
The data is currently being analysed, to be presented to officials to demand specific actions to eradicate “macho” gender violence against women. It is a testament to the scope that citizen-led data-based initiatives can have for demanding changes to public policies on specific problems or monitoring official data.
The survey is a successful case study of how to use technology in collecting valuable quantitative data for use as evidence in public awareness raising and advocacy campaigns. The results helped generate 126 articles in national and international media outlets.
The harnessing of data by the movement has played a significant role in enabling the number of broad but perceptible changes in public behaviour. Firstly, the media has stopped calling femicide “crimes of passion”, and show that it is not related to conflicts between partners, but to the place women hold in society. Secondly, the legal concept of “femicide” has been adopted. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, society has begun to become aware of the inequality between men and women in all aspects of social life.
In this Briefing on Country Level Monitoring of SDGs we share experiences from DataShift’s deep-dive on SDG 5 (achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls) in Kenya and Tanzania. Our work in the region shows that the manifestation of gender equality within the community is directly linked to government service delivery and women’s access to economic opportunities, which is essential for meeting the needs of women and girls.
Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (GPSDD) Revolution Roadmaps Toolkit
In 2015, the UN High Level Panel on the post-2015 Development Agenda appointed by UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, first expressed the need for a “data revolution for sustainable development”. However, in order for countries around the world to embrace this data revolution it is essential to ensure that both governments and civil society organisations have access to the information needed to make the best policy choices, improve accountability and track the progress of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at all levels, so that ultimately, we can deliver on the promise of these crucial global goals.
Citizen-generated data (CGD) is data produced by people and organisations to monitor or campaign for change on the issues that affect them. It can be collected using a simple mobile phone, analysed using free tools and then visualised to tell powerful stories. Indeed, CGD can complement official datasets by identifying and filling data gaps and can provide a snapshot of the issues faced by marginalised people.
CGD can therefore play an important role in monitoring and driving progress on sustainable development at all levels, and the SDG framework provides us with a massive opportunity for scaling up the use of this innovative new data source.
DataShift is working to support this data revolution by building the capacity and confidence of civil society organisations to produce and use CGD to monitor sustainable development progress, demand accountability and campaign for transformative change.
The DataShift team has therefore developed a “Making use of Citizen-Generated Data to monitor the SDGs” tool, as part of a Data Revolution Roadmaps Toolbox put together by the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (GPSDD).
The tool aims to improve the understanding and appreciation of the value of citizen-generated data. It has been created for all stakeholders interested in fostering effective monitoring and accountability for the SDGs at national, sub-national and international levels.
The tool provides concrete examples of how CGD is being used in practice to track progress on SDG-related issues, along with a number of recommendations on how to foster a collaborative approach between governments and those producing the data. The intention is to use CGD to influence government decisions and policies which actively support an inclusive, diverse, and joined up approach to the monitoring of the SDGs and to improve accountability.
In one of the case studies in Indonesia, both national and local government had been looking for ways to collect and understand citizens’ opinions on public services and development to support better evidence-based policy-making.
Pulse Lab Jakarta, a partnership between the United Nations and the Ministry of National Development and Planning – designed “Mining Citizen Feedback Data for Enhanced Local Government Decision-Making”, a project that combined data on citizens’ opinions from multiple sources. The project highlighted the potential of using existing datasets, but also the need to integrate new information management systems into national and local governance.
Through this multi-stakeholder collaboration, the project strengthened local governance arrangements by making them more accountable, inclusive and responsive to citizens’ needs. While an initiative of this nature would have a direct impact on SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities) and 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions), it would also have the potential to impact citizen’s feedback on other SDGs, such as education (SDG 4) and health (SDG 3).
This is just one example that demonstrates the potential to harness the power of collective intelligence and individual experience, raise awareness about under-reported SDG-related topics and fill gaps where data is missing against SDG indicators.
To read about further examples and a set of practical recommendations about how to leverage citizen-generated data for SDG monitoring and accountability, the whole “Making use of Citizen-Generated Data to monitor the SDGs” is available here.
The project should focus on how citizen-generated data (CGD) can support monitoring and accountability of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and/or the UNFCCC climate change commitments.
As part of our work to foster civil society innovation, collaboration and capacity development on data, we invite members of our growing Community of CGD champions to develop a concept for a new project using this modality of data for SDG and/or climate change monitoring and accountability.
The challenge aims to foster collaboration, experimentation, and innovation on citizen-generated data. Applications will therefore be reviewed against these key criteria, with the successful concept for collaboration being awarded $5,000 seed funding for further development of the idea into a fully scoped project proposal.
The winning collaboration will be encouraged to seek inputs from other Community members during the proposal development process. The DataShift team will also provide inputs and feedback, and explore additional opportunities for promoting the proposal amongst relevant partners and at key events. Unsuccessful entries will still have the opportunity to share their idea with our Community, with a view to identifying additional opportunities for collaboration.
Think you have the winning collaboration? Complete the application form and submit your project proposal to firstname.lastname@example.org by 19 October 2016 (11:59pm EST). The winning collaboration will be notified by 24 October 2016, with the final project proposal to be completed by 24 November 2016.
Not yet a member of our community? Join the DataShift Community of civil society organisations, campaigners, and citizen-generated data and technology practitioners, by signing up at http://civicus.org/thedatashift/community/ and follow us on Twitter via #Datashift.
DataShift is helping civil society produce and analyse data, especially citizen-generated data, to drive sustainable development. We do this by building capacity, powering campaigns and improving the monitoring of government, resulting in better accountability, policies and services.
DataShift is an initiative of CIVICUS, in partnership with Wingu, the Engine Room and the Open Institute.
We look forward to seeing your submissions!
The current excitement around the role of data in supporting the delivery of the sustainable development agenda is in itself revolutionary. A few years ago the discussions were limited to a few organisations directly dealing with data. More encouraging now is the flurry of activities in-country by data enthusiasts to mobilise government, civil society, donors, multilateral organisations, academia, and media, among others; to join hands in ecosystems that can harness the data revolution to address a range of data and development challenges.
Full house at the national data revolution roadmaps workshop in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania 12 – 13 August 2016
As part of our work on this agenda, CIVICUS, through the DataShift initiative has joined forces with the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (GPSDD) to galvanise political commitment, align strategic priorities, foster collaboration, spur innovation and build trust in the booming data ecosystems of the 21st century. One of the ways this has been pursued so far is through a series of national data revolution roadmap workshops organised by the GPSDD and led by national governments and partners. The series kicked off in April in Colombia, followed by Sierra Leone in June, and subsequently in Tanzania and Kenya in August 2016.
The Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Devolution and Planning, Hon. Mwangi Kiunjuri (third left) during a panel session at the national data revolution roadmaps workshop in Nairobi, 15 – 16 August 2016
The back to back workshops in Tanzania (12 – 13 August) and Kenya (15 – 16 August) – both DataShift pilot countries – explored how stakeholder ecosystems can meaningfully harness data to drive progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the national level. A unique feature of the workshops was the blending of local and international actors who shared a platform to showcase their work, mull over challenges, share experiences, and brainstorm ways to shape the country-level data revolution agenda. Learning from each other is the best way to avoid re-inventing the wheel.
Challenges with data collection, access, and use that were raised during the workshops had many similarities across the countries. However, the diversity in socio-economic, cultural and political systems makes one realise that we need highly contextualised approaches to data ecosystems. Attending and facilitating sessions at the workshops also reminds one that the data revolution will not happen on its own. Efforts made by the GPSDD and other players to catalyse action, especially at the national level; like the Office of the Deputy President in Kenya, National Bureau of Statistics Tanzania and the Open Data Council in Sierra Leone, need to be fully supported by other governments and additional stakeholders.
Change processes in-country take decades, mindsets have to change, social and cultural beliefs must be reshaped to align to new ways of doing things, and partnerships have to be forged to do the actual work. It is however doable, if we make the right connections – this was demonstrated in the presentations by Kenya Health Data Collaborative, Kwantu, Open Institute, Kenya Open Data Initiative, #NationNewsplex, Map Kibera and ourselves (DataShift), among others, during the Nairobi workshop. We therefore need to urgently connect the dots and complement one another.
The call to LNOB (“leave-no-one-behind”) will not be as easy as ABC. Significant gaps remain in trying to establish who are in real terms already or at the greatest risk of being left behind. In most places, we have barely scratched the surface (financially, technically, or otherwise) in fully understanding where they live and what their needs are; yet with only 14 years to realise the SDGs, we don’t have any time to waste! DataShift’s exploits with the Open Institute in localising the SDGs at the community level in Lanet Umoja Location, Nakuru County, in Kenya with Chief Francis Kariuki, hopes to demonstrate (at a small scale) the sort of effort needed to reach everyone, including the most marginalised, to better understand their needs and priorities, and the kinds of resources needed by government and others to meaningfully impact their lives.
National Statistical Offices (NSOs) are sounding more progressive and receptive to multi-stakeholder engagements and approaches on the data revolution. They are however, burdened by severe capacity gaps and limited resources. It can never be overemphasised that they need urgent support to define practical mechanisms for coordinating the new age National Statistical System (NSS) of data producers and users. And yes, it’s also time for the political goodwill in our countries to yield domestic resources to fully support these national processes – there’s a limit to what the GPSDD and its champions can do for us.
Over 300 participants attended the community SDG 5 Forum in Lanet Umoja Nakuru County in Kenya on 23 August, hosted by Chief Kariuki. Organised in partnership with the Open Institute and DataShift. It explored ways to domesticate global goals for local impact, with a special focus on gender equality
Political will can be a great tool for mobilising stakeholders and resources. Its absence, however, can also break great initiatives as a result of the push and pull for power, resources, and relevance. The impact of politics, therefore, is not to be underestimated. We need well-defined (and clearly understood) accountability frameworks and rules and responsibilities that apply across the board, not just for government, to effectively overcome negative political machinations.
It can be noted from the engagements thus far, for the data revolution to fully support the delivery of SDGs, it needs:
- Policy/legal frameworks and well defined national roadmaps that catalyse reforms, provide visionary leadership and create the infrastructure necessary for integration and implementation in formal government planning and development processes.
- A natural home in a core institution or set of institutions (political, technical and financial), that are responsible for coordinating and providing leadership for its delivery, and can be held to account for their actions.
- Full ownership by various arms of government (executive, judiciary, and legislature) who commit and allocate domestic money and other resources to support its implementation and concrete action.
- Awareness to be raised so that stakeholders, especially citizens and civil society organisations, fully understand it, own it, and are empowered to use it to take action and to hold governments accountable.
A truly transformative data revolution should be seen as one of several major steps in a long term transition to sustainable development. This must last well beyond 2030 to support whatever post-2030 global framework is adopted. We must therefore do what needs to be done now while also creating incentives, nurturing partnerships, and strengthening institutions through which longer-term visions can be achieved. A special focus on those at the highest risk of being left behind; those in vulnerable, conflict-ridden and fragile states ravaged by chronic and absolute poverty, hunger and instability would be a great starting point. It’s great harvesting low-hanging fruit, but if we are to change the discourse for humanity, then energy and resources need to be channelled to address the structural causes of poverty, instability, and marginalisation. This includes climate change – which is already hitting us all, but the most vulnerable the hardest. But the convergence of technology, sustainable development expertise and citizen voice that the data revolution can foster, offers an incredible opportunity to better understand these challenges, along with how to address them.
Lastly, the affront on civic space across the world is, and will continue to be, a major threat not just to citizens, but to governments themselves. CIVICUS has documented serious violations of civic space in 109 countries last year alone. Unless the tide changes, the rhetoric around meaningful partnerships and data ecosystems amounts to nothing but double-speak. Resources are also rapidly dwindling and the natural instinct for governments is to focus on a few selected priorities (often political). Never has there been a greater opportunity for inclusive socio-economic transformation through the emerging technological revolution, innovation, and citizen empowerment. Multi-stakeholder partnerships are no longer a choice, they are an absolute must.
Follow our conversations on Twitter via #DataShift.
The DataShift team ensured that citizen-generated data (CGD) was on the agenda at this year’s High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) in New York, using the forum as a platform to present the “Making Use of CGD Tool”. Cassia Moraes tells us more in this blog.
From 11-20 July, the United Nations hosted the second High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) in New York. The HLPF is the main global forum for the follow up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This year the HLPF focused on a core theme of the Agenda 2030 framework; “Ensuring that no one is left behind”. Throughout the ten-day event, the HLPF convened national voluntary reviews of 22 countries, thematic reviews, side events, a Partnership Exchange, and SDGs Learning, Training and Practice sessions for governments and myriad of other stakeholders present.
During the meetings, Member States and several other participants were keen to recognise the need for strong monitoring of the SDGs. As 2016 is the first year of implementation of the 2030 Agenda, it is however important to highlight the role of data in the initial stages of the implementation planning process. To ensure that no one is left behind, a crucial first step is knowing who “no one” actually refers to: Which sectors of society are marginalised? Which regions have social and economic indicators below the national average? Which groups are lagging behind on different SDG areas, such as education and health?
On the other side, different constituencies raised important questions about the HLPF theme. One recurring concern was the possibility of rebranding the SDGs, as they were the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – the eight goals that preceded the Agenda 2030, and whose focus were mostly social and economic issues within developing countries. Unlike the MDGs, the Sustainable Development Goals are meant to be universal, i.e. to be applicable to developed countries. Therefore, few civil society representatives stressed that the aforementioned slogan cannot be used to divert attention away from developed countries’ accountability and domestic problems, thus raising inequality. Another major difference between the SDGs and the MDGs is that the former are supposed to include environmental issues, which is one of the pillars of sustainable development together with the social and economic spheres. Environmental groups were thus concerned that this years’ theme could also overlook important aspects of such a comprehensive agenda.
Aware of these concerns, CIVICUS launched the new Leave No-One Behind Partnership (LNB) together with Development Initiatives and Project Everyone. The initiative will be guided by the following principles:
- EXAMINE: we will establish a baseline of who the groups that have been left behind are, through a data-led approach; as well as identify those at risk, where they are and monitor their progress annually;
- ENGAGE: we will develop a visual presentation for awareness-raising, built from the real stories of those who are being left behind;
- EMPOWER: we will work together with national partners in at least 30 countries to build local voices for action and accountability to ensure no-one is left behind in their countries.
During the HLPF, the DataShift team worked hard to ensure that citizen-generated data (CGD) was in the agenda, leveraging on several advocacy opportunities to include civil society in the monitoring of the SDGs. Beyond advocating for the importance of using CGD, we looked for interesting projects that exemplify how this can be done in practice. A clear-cut example of the potential of CGD to monitor progress against the SDGs is the Everyone Counts initiative, led by CARE International, World Vision International and Kwantu. Together, they will test the efficacy of social accountability at scale, aggregating CGD to monitor progress against the SDGs in pilot countries. Using existing interventions – like social audits and community scorecards (CSC) – the initiative will address the main CGD challenges, such as comparability and coverage.
DataShift presented the Making Use of CGD Tool at the side event, Data Roadmaps for Sustainable Development, organised by the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (GPSDD). This tool has been created for all stakeholders interested in fostering effective monitoring and accountability for the SDGs, with focus on the national and subnational levels. The tool also presents advantages of using CGD to complement official datasets, which can identify and fill data gaps and provide a snapshot of marginalised populations and issues, among other contributions. The GPSDD also launched a Call for Proposals on Collaborative Data Innovations for Sustainable Development, a great funding opportunity for organisations working with data production, dissemination and use, primarily in low-income countries and lower-middle-income countries. Grants will vary according to the maturity level of the projects, ranging from $25,000 to $250,000.
Finally, we facilitated the meeting of the Action for Sustainable Development’s Monitoring and Accountability Working Group during a two-day weekend workshop hosted by the platform. Participants discussed challenges such as; considering our audience by using different means of communication (e.g. webinars are not the most adequate platform for grassroots) and increasing awareness levels about the SDGs, especially in the developing world. The audience also stressed the importance of monitoring efforts in the national and local levels, demanding that the working group support members to hold their governments accountable.
Overall, the 2016 HLPF showed both the potential and challenges for the coming years of SDGs implementation. After a successful international gathering, it is now time to go back home and build strong foundations to deliver an ambitious and urgent agenda.
“Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”
Today the gender equality multi-stakeholder forum kicks off in Nairobi, Kenya, convened by CIVICUS World Alliance for Citizen Participation (DataShift), The African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET) and the SDGs Kenya Forum.
The forum will explore opportunities for delivering an integrated, data-driven, multi-stakeholder approach to implementing and monitoring SDG 5, “Achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls”, as well as other gender related targets and indicators in other SDGs in Kenya.
Over 50 stakeholders from government, private sector, media, civil society; including women’s rights organisations, development partners, academia, researchers, media, and technology enthusiasts will come together to explore practical mechanisms for working together while implementing their core mandates.
The aim of the forum:
- Raise awareness on SDG 5 and brainstorm on a framework for civil society and other stakeholders to formally engage with government in the formulation, implementation, and monitoring of progress,
- Brainstorm on the value of drawing on multiple sources of data, including citizen-generated data, for a data-driven implementation, and monitoring of progress on SDG 5,
Facilitate engagement between civil society, other stakeholders, and government on gender equality in Kenya in order to explore synergies and foster collaborations on SDG 5.
- It also features highly interactive roundtable discussions, facilitating knowledge and experience sharing from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), National Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC), and the Department of Gender (Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs), among others.
Despite a progressive rights-based constitution, women in Kenya still face challenges including the ability to participate effectively in decision-making and leadership. Research by UN Women indicates that over 80% of Kenyan women are engaged in smallholder farming, only 1% own land in their own right, access less than 10% of available credit, and less than 1% of agriculture credit. Female poverty is exacerbated by gender-based violence; including sexual violence, rape, physical violence and sexual harassment. Women’s empowerment is hindered by polygamy, early marriage and harmful cultural and traditional practices such as female genital cutting. Traditional practices governing inheritance, acquisition of land and benefits accruing to land produce continue to favour men.
The absence of accurate, credible, timely, and gender disaggregated data and general lack of awareness on the goals and their implications inhibits progress. Technical expertise is also limited on the “how-to,” especially in mainstreaming in formal government programmes. Furthermore, where data or information exists; it’s disparate, trapped in silos by civil society, government, academia, development partners, private sector, and researchers, among others. A recent report by Data2x, found no data especially on aspects of the lives of women and girls that are not highly valued by society. Unpaid work in home production, time spent fetching fuel and carrying water, housework, childcare and eldercare – all activities carried out mostly by women and girls, are part of a ‘care economy’ that society undervalues and, therefore, does not count in official statistics.
This forum is the culmination of a two-day capacity-building workshop for civil society on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which focused on women’s rights, gender equality and global and regional commitments. These two events between civil society, other stakeholders, and government on gender equality, offers an opportunity to synergise efforts and foster collaborations on SDG 5 and other gender related targets and indicators in Kenya.
Watch this space for the report emerging from the forum discussions, exchanges, and ideas; including a joint civil society communique and blog post to be shared widely. These will be fed into local and international forums and workshops to facilitate further learning.
Here’s a look at the full Concept Note – SDGs Gender Equality Thematic Forum 12-7-16.
The 47th Session of the United Nations Statistical Commission meeting held in New York in March 2016 was a critical milestone in defining the next steps in implementing the highly ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) across the world. Once completed, a whopping 169 targets and 230 global indicators are expected to set milestones for implementation and monitoring progress towards the SDGs across a broad range of sectors. Even as work on the targets and indicators is finalised by the Inter-agency Expert Group on SDGs (IEAG-SDGs), implementing and realising progress on the SDGs will not be easy. Significant energy and resources will be needed at the country-level to translate them into action. They will need to be contextualised, with countries further developing additional national targets and indicators to fill any existing gaps. Citizens, in particular, must be mobilised to understand the promise of the SDGs and develop frameworks that would enable them to hold governments to account for results. Civil society, private sector, and development partners will also need to align their priorities with those of the government not only to support implementation, but also conduct independent shadow monitoring and reporting on progress – or the lack thereof.
Time for Results
Prior to this meeting in New York, the development world waited anxiously for the final list of targets and indicators. Focus has now shifted to the national-level, where citizens eagerly await the results from the global commitments. Unfortunately, the challenges we face today require pragmatic solutions. We can’t wait until 2025 to scramble to report on SDG progress. National Statistical Offices and other planning ministries, departments or agencies at national and sub-national levels must move quickly to define priorities that envisage citizen’s aspirations; initiating relevant policy, legal, and economic reforms (while the political will lasts) in order to entrench the SDGs in formal government processes. It’s also time to reach out to other arms of government and entities that hitherto have not been sufficiently engaged. These include parliaments, local authorities, sub-national governments, national audit offices, and judiciaries. These institutions will play a critical role in mobilising resources, implementing, and exercising oversight over the SDGs promises. In Africa, however, we recognise the need for significant investment into major reforms to restore credibility and strengthen the capacity of these institutions to play their rightful role.
Doors Partially Open
At the global level, the doors for the NGO Major Groups and other Stakeholders (MGoS) to engage have been partially opened, but we are still struggling with bureaucratic systems of global inter-governmental bodies stuck in the old way of doing things. As a result, meaningful engagement remains elusive. We in civil society still have to anxiously wait for drafts from closed door negotiations; speculating, and chasing delegates and country missions in corridors to listen to and accommodate our views. We can do better:
- Reforms are needed at every level to create genuine frameworks for more structured and predictable engagement.
- We must also create safe spaces for candid engagement with governments that builds trust for longerterm mutual collaboration.
- At the same time, civil society has to work harder at the national level to strategically engage and target decision makers and missions before they arrive at major international conferences and forums.
- The existing space must be defended at all costs, while going back to the basics to draw legitimacy from the millions of ordinary citizens across the world.
Role of Partnerships
Realising impact from the SDGs will be difficult in the absence of good quality, timely, accurate, highly disaggregated and useable data. Citizens will need data converted into useable and contextualised information, presented in languages they can best understand and use. Partnerships will be critical to ensure a fully functional ecosystem of data users and producers at the community, sub-national, national, regional, and global levels. To address this need, the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (GPSDD) has been formed to support multi-stakeholder data initiatives to harness the power of data for achieving the SDGs. The GPSDD is catalysing action for mutually benefitting collaboration among diverse stakeholders. Ask me about any other open initiative seizing the moment and openly reaching out to multiple stakeholders across the globe in an atmosphere devoid of bureaucracy to harness the “data revolution” and I will point to none. Well-meaning partners and critics with innovative ideas need to join others to share their perspectives and collectively catalyse actions that will deliver results. Similar partnerships must emerge at the national-level to make it all possible.
Shrinking Civic Space
The rapidly shrinking space for civil society and other development actors to operate should worry us all. Disguised in narratives on transparency, accountability and openness are numerous incidences of narrowed civic space and widely documented impunity with which civic actors and human rights defenders are crushed by their own governments. How do these same governments deliver on their promises of sustainable development if they trample on the rights of those who entrust them with power and resources? At CIVICUS we continue to strongly advocate for improved civic space and the strengthening of civil society for citizen action. If governments are to hold their SDG promise to “leave no-one behind” they must create an enabling environment for citizens to prosper and contribute meaningfully to governance and development processes in the post-2015 era.
Through DataShift we continue to work across regions with multiple stakeholders to contextualise the Global Goals through direct support, improving the credibility and coverage of citizen-generated data, and drawing on multiple sources of data to monitor implementation and progress on SDGs; while creating replicable models, facilitating engagements, and sharing learning. We currently have a special focus on collaboration at the sub-national level in our pilot countries (Kenya, Tanzania, Nepal, and Argentina), and through partnerships support other initiatives across the world.
We invite you to subscribe to our DataShift newsletter so that we can update you on our efforts, learnings, and opportunities to share and learn from our DataShift community!
The DataShift team is looking for someone to help us support the efforts of civil society to leverage their use of data and technology for social good. If you’ve been looking for an opportunity to apply your knowledge and network of data and tech for good, this might be the job for you!
The Data Capacity Support Specialist will be responsible for coordinating direct support to selected partners in three pilot areas (Argentina, Kenya+Tanzania and Nepal) on a variety of different, partner-based technology needs. These can range from usability analyses of traffic apps to the implementation of mobile data collection platforms, policy assessments and training on any of these topics. The position will be working very closely with the Direct Support Coordinator of the engine room for an initial 3 month period, during which knowledge transfer will be paramount. Thereafter, this person will be embedded within CIVICUS.
For more information on this position and how to apply, visit this job posting on the CIVICUS website.