Caring for Equality through Data Collaboration

Buenos Aires City’s Early Efforts to Design a ‘Caring Indicator System’

Photo by Rod Long (Unsplash)

A data collaboration unfolds amidst a pandemic

The Gender Equality Team and the Statistics Bureau of Buenos Aires City have a track record for working together on data collaborations. We wanted to replicate the successful experience we had building the Gender Indicator System together with a whole new project. That first collaboration, as well as the publication of ‘The progress of Women in BA City’ in partnership with UN Women, revealed that the inequality gaps on care-related tasks constrained women’s economic autonomy. With that in mind, our two departments began to explore the existing data, with new evidence and analyze new policy options.

We came up with the idea of designing a ‘Caring Indicator System’ that would address the situation in the City and provide us with useful information to improve policy-making and accountability to our citizens. An Argentinean expert in the care economy and policy field, Corina Rodríguez Enríquez, helped us out in a first phase on how to organize the data we had already collected in a conceptual framework, and encouraged the team to start exploring the BA Statistics Bureau’s vast library of data, which dates back to the beginning of the 18th century!

The COVID-19 pandemic had a two-fold impact on this collaboration. On the one hand, it forced us to pause the project, because both teams needed to prioritize other data production and data use projects. However, it was also the perfect scenario to highlight the continued relevance of care-related tasks in everyone’s daily lives — not just in Argentina, but in every city and country around the globe. The Open Data Charter’s invitation to partner with us, strengthened our vision for the data project, adding an international element to our collaboration and incentivized our team to ensure that the project was back on track.

The Open Data Institute and Microsoft’s #PeerLearningNetwork: Reflections and Challenges

The open call from the ODI and Microsoft teams to join the Peer Learning Network for Data Collaborations suited perfectly to spin off the ideas we had. The first two meetings with the other participants of the network have been very inspiring. It is always interesting to interact with other data practitioners from all over the world and learn about their projects and findings. We saw that we shared similar challenges, such as the need to use data registries that sometimes lack quality or are fragmented. But we also identified that we had another key data source: the cities’ census and surveys. In our very first workshop, we learned about the ODI’s data ecosystem mapping tool, which turned out to be very useful to understand the different stakeholders involved, the relationship and exchange of data, services and insights among each other, and the trust challenges for sharing data with and within the government. We were taught to think about our project in terms of the data stewards, and identified challenges on how to build a positive narrative and added value of the Care System we are building.

By mapping out the stakeholders, we realized the complexity of our project and it allowed us to hone in and design it through a more manageable timeline. Our biggest challenge at the moment is gaining access to the information we need about the social organization of care, which will require close partnership between the public-private sector.

A draft of the data collaboration’s stakeholder map, developed by the GCBA team

Next steps in the global data collaboration that cares for equality

Though we have a powerful conceptual framework to organise the indicators, making it operative seemed more difficult than we first imagined. The complexity of the field was confirmed when we consulted María de los Angeles Duran, an international researcher specialized in the analysis of unpaid work and its relationship with the social and economic structure.

We have therefore partnered with María Angeles, who will guide us with her technical expertise and provide us with insights, to ensure that our data selection and indicators construction is relevant and accurate. She will also train key public officials on care concepts, knowledge and experiences to understand the complexities of the care economy and learn how to measure it in Buenos Aires City.

María Angeles’ expertise will be combined with a specialised data scientist and UX expert that will help the tech team from the Statistics Bureau in developing the Care Indicators System in a way that allows the data to be accessible and user-friendly. Based on the data ecosystem and stakeholders mapping, this technical expert will provide us with recommendations for the system’s data governance and visualization techniques to make the complex information into easily understandable one.

We are looking forward to collaborating with the ODC team for the next four months. We expect this process to not only strengthen Buenos Aires City’s civil servants’ data skills, but that the workshops provided by ODI and Microsoft will also strengthen our data framework. At the end of this collaboration, we hope to share important data-driven stories regarding the state of the care economy and contribute to uncovering how the paid and unpaid care tasks affect the gender gaps in the City.

Collaborating with governments and organisations to open up data for pay parity, climate action and combatting corruption.

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