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Women and the right of access to information

Date added: August 5, 2016

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Over the last decade, there has been a growing 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 open governance. Too often, the offline exclusion of women in public life and is being mirrored online.

A new study from the Carter Center examines women’s right to information in Bangladesh. It asks whether women are able to access information with the same frequency, ease, and rate of success as men - and why.

  • 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  social barriers such as disapproval of family members or the 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 did manage to make requests for information were often satisfied with the response. But this success was attributed to the kind of women who are able to enter public offices, who tended to be leaders of community organisations with relatively high socio-economic status, who were well known to officials.

The findings of the study provide a solid evidence base for open governance and open data projects in Bangladesh to draw on to ensure that they really are inclusive for women.

Download the executive summary here.

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