April 2015 End date
Over the last decade, and particularly since the formation of the Open Governance Partnership in 2011, the ‘open governance’ field has placed significant emphasis on making government information available to the public.
But while technological advances, new systems and updated processes have provided powerful platforms for accessing open data, there has been little or no emphasis on ensuring that women can have an equal share in these new open governance systems.
Too often, the offline exclusion of women in public life and in governance debates is being mirrored online, and there is a danger that women, once again, are being denied opportunities that should be open to all.
To demonstrate inequities and advance women’s right of access to information, the Carter Center developed an innovative mixed-methods research study. The team worked in Bangladesh to find out whether women are able to access information with the same frequency, ease, and rate of success as men - and why.
The team wanted to provide a solid evidence base so that open governance and open data projects can adapt to ensure they really are inclusive for women.
The Carter Center is a non-profit public policy centre founded by Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter to fight disease, hunger, poverty, conflict, and oppression around the world.
The study found that
- Most respondents thought that women did not access information as frequently or as easily as men.
- The three most frequently identified barriers to women accessing information were illiteracy, lack of information on where to go, and cultural and social barriers such as disapproval of family members or cultural inappropriateness of seeking information.
- Information about education was seen to be most valuable for the promotion and protection of women’s rights; the next most important was information about land and property, followed by information about employment and the right to work.
- Women who do manage to make requests for information were often satisfied with the response. But this success can be attributed to the kind of women who enter public offices. They tend to be leaders of community organisations, well known to officials, and with relatively high socio-economic status.